Author Interview: Kathleen Shoop



JMR-Welcome to the Books Delight, Kathleen. Tell our readers where you live, what you do for fun and what does the perfect day look like?

KS-Thank you so very much for having me! I live in Oakmont, PA just outside of Pittsburgh. Most of the fun I have, outside of my writing life, is with my family and friends, just attending whatever events come with holidays, school activities, sports, etc. I guess my life is pretty simple. A perfect day for me would include pre-sunrise writing, a walk in the woods, breakfast with friends, more writing, a massage, then dinner with my husband and family! I also love being with extended family when possible—again, super simple.

JMR-What’s your favorite historical time period? Why?

KS-My favorite time periods fall on the continuum from 1880-1940. I realize that encompasses more than one time period, but those are the ones I seem to read and write the most. And many of my books will span several periods within that continuum. I will read anything, though. I love contemporary and also books that go back to the plague days. If there’s a great story at the heart of “it,” I will love it.

JMR-Who is your favorite historical figure? Why? If you could ask them one question, what would it be?

KS-One of my favorites is Cora Bussey Hillis. She was a child welfare advocate and has a guest star role in some of my Letter Series books set in Iowa. She will soon have  her own book, but for now I’m just doing more research about her! She (like many Iowa women) were way ahead of their time politically and practically in their everyday lives.

JMR- How did you come to be a writer of historical fiction?

KS- My agent was trying to sell my contemporary women’s fiction, but wasn’t having luck. With me being a researcher (education) and lifelong lover of history I had my head in nonfiction as often as fiction. But when I read Water For Elephants it clicked for me and I understood how I might be able to write historical fiction. At the same time my mother had gifted me with hundreds of family letters that were hundreds of years old. Some of those were love letters during the year of my great grandparents engagement—these provided the inspiration for The Letter Series and a historical fiction author was born!

JMR- Besides historical fiction you write in other genres. Do you have a favorite? Is one easier than another?

KS-I love women’s fiction and also romance. I think they’re all hard to do well. There is more simplicity for me when it comes to contemporary fiction because I don’t have to check every single word to see if it was in existence in the time period I’m writing. For instance if I describe a cul-de-sac in my story about a suburban neighborhood I know I can use the phrase and not have to stop and look it up. At times I’m literally stopping every paragraph to check on if a specific kind of watch had been invented, a vacuum, a bra, a type of stockings… that can be really tedious. So not having to do that is “easier,” in women’s fiction or contemporary romance, but again, to write those well is just as hard as any other genre.

JMR- Did you visit anyone of the places in your book? Where did you feel closest to your characters?

KS-When it comes to The Magician—book 3 in the Donora Story Collection (can be read as a standalone) I have visited Donora many, many times. The town is the connecting thread among the collection of novels and its infamous 1948 Killing Smog was what first drew me to the town for research for book one—After the Fog. It was then I fell in love with the town, its people, and felt its history and its sense of aliveness (even though it’s been struggling for decades).

JMR- Kathleen, tell us about your new book, The Magician.

KS-Book 3 in the Donora Story Collection is about baseball hall-of-famer, Stan Musial’s, childhood. Book two was an immigrant tale about how his parents met (magical in itself) and so The Magician carries on a thread of his parents relationship even though Stan’s childhood is the main focus. He was an incredible athlete (in that magical way that you know when you see it), person and husband and it was a joy to use his autobiography and countless biographies to help bring the facts of his world to life. I hope I did it justice! He was a remarkable person.

JMR-What projects do you have in the pipeline?

KS-I’m working on Book 4 in The Donora Story Collection called The Circus Dancer. It spans early 1900s to the 30s. I’m also working on Book 5 in The Letter Series—called The Garden Promise. This one will tie up a lot of series loose ends for the reader!

JMR- Tell our readers how to find you on social media and the web.

KS-I’m on Facebook as Kathleen Shoop (author page), TikTok as Kathleenshoopauthor, @kathieshoop on Twitter, Kathleenshoop on Instagram, and my website is I’m also on bookbub as well.

JMR- What question were you hoping I’d ask but didn’t?

KS-What do I love about historical fiction? What I love about historical fiction is that it gives me the chance to be “read” by people who love the facts that give history its skeleton but also love a good story—the thing that expands the facts into living, breathing people and the places that shape them.

Thank you again for having me!

JMR- Thank you, Kathleen, for a great chat. Readers, I know you'll want to check out Kathleen's books. I've included a link below to Amazon.


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