Welcome to our Author Interview series.
Today we're featuring an interview with Catherine C. Brooks, author of War Brought Trials and Anxiety at Home at Home and Overseas. Our author interview series provides an opportunity for our readers to get to know our authors on a deeper level and also learn more about the types of books we're publishing.
Catherine C. Brooks is author of Walk with Me, Didn’t Know We Were Poor, War Brought Trials and Anxiety at Home and Overseas, and Photographic Memories of Mathews County. She has lived in Mathews, Virginia, where she has spent a worthwhile lifetime. A widow, her children, Wade and Susan, live nearby. Brooks owned and operated a retail business in town for 35 years. Other than work in her local church and time with family and friends, she spends her time researching and writing books about yesteryears. Through social networking, Brooks enjoys meeting peers and past acquaintances.
Synopsis: War Brought Trials and Anxiety at Home and Overseas:
War Brought Trials and Anxiety at Home and Overseas begins the day Pearl Harbor was bombed. Lifestyles changed at home with our men, and then our 18-year old boys, leaving for overseas. Rationing, Salvaging, blackouts, and women working became the norm. The German sank our oil tankers and merchant ships, bringing essentials. Survivor’s stories bring excitement. Love stories bring tears, as do stories of those who survived prison camps, and internment in places the Japanese seized. Diaries recorded events and conditions that one couldn’t write in censored letters. Pictures released after the war tell more than words about conditions in love letters.
How did your book come to life?
A box of letters from my fiancé, Kirby, inspired the book. The book is in story form rather than statistics, showing a different lifestyle. I lived the war years on my family’s farm, picked vegetables for both truck farming and picked and prepared both fruit and vegetables for canning. Plucked and dressed chickens, and did other necessary work. Meanwhile, I also took part in the salvage effort, used ration coupons to obtain most items at the store, cooked meatless meals, and helped cover the windows for black outs.
In two sentences or less can you tell readers something unique about your book?
It contains stories within a story of a time in history no one wants to see repeated. These would be lost had I not told them. After he read it, the Mathews County Clerk of the Court sent me word that he is thankful that I’m preserving our history.
Why do you think your readers are going to enjoy your book?
I use a story format to show life’s events during the War of All Wars, as I would tell my best friend the happenings of that day. Survivor’s words from newspaper quotes make the story realistic. Over fifty photos, many of which were released by the Navy after the war ended, show events as they took place. Few knew about battles in the Aleutian Islands, and the diary that Bowling wrote while at Attu brings new insight to the cold and lonely day and nights on the island. PT boats are passé; yet this book tells about the time the little boats helped win a war. My husband-to-be, Kirby, was part of a crew on many of these boats. Though he served as quartermaster, he had his turn in the gunnery when the battles took place. He could only write that he couldn’t tell about what his work consisted, but he trembled so he could barely write legible letters. His plans for our future and home helped him keep his sanity. Prisoners of War who survived told amazing stories. Their quotes take you to the battlefront and the prison camps. Words from a survivor at Santo Thomas University that the Japanese used as an internment camp shows what life there was like. However, it becomes exciting when the Americans arrive. The author quotes word for word the short and longer sentences used during the excitement. The Americans brought food, but the Japanese used the opportunity to destroy the property and inmates as far as they could. Prayers. Screams. Pleadings and more are recorded as they took place.
My son said it is the only book that ever brought tears when he read it. There were many letters from his dad. The web master for our regional writer’s club and member of the Board of Directors says it is the best history regarding World War II that he has read.
Where do you find your ideas? Does something trigger them? Do you carry around a notebook in case inspiration strikes?
From my life’s experiences and that of others. Research in Mathews Memorial Library with rooms of history inspires me. I have carried a notebook and have all those notes, but now that I can’t walk without a walker, I’ve had to cut back on what I carry.
Have you written your entire life? Have you always considered yourself a writer?
I have not written for the public my entire life. I wrote letters to pen pals, friends that moved, and relatives until my husband’s death in 1973. In the 1970s, I took writer’s courses, attended a weeklong conference and wrote for a local magazine. When I sold my business, I took an advanced course and began writing for a regional magazine. When I had only sold one article nationally, I was asked to write my first book.
Why do you write? Is it something you've always done, or always wanted to do?
I wanted to do it from high school on, but World War II changed my plans. I have to write to keep my sanity. Otherwise, I am awake at night thinking about things that I need to tell. I have pages that I got up early mornings and wrote after my husband died. Then, I’d go back to bed and get what sleep I could before 6 a.m.
What are your strengths as a writer?
My keen memory of the past and searching until I find facts that I haven’t any knowledge. The compulsion within to tell the past drives me.
Where did you grow up? How did your hometown (or other places you have lived) inspire your writing?
I grew up in the rural county where I still reside. The six miles northwestward where I was born seemed miles away in the 1920s, but today, it is only takes minutes to travel the distance. The farm country has become a bedroom community with few farmers remaining. Anything I write will be set in rural areas because that is what I know. Since Mathews is a peninsula surrounded by water, people come for waterfront property. Much of it is on the Chesapeake Bay, which would make for good fiction.
What is your work in progress? Tell us about it.
It's titled Celebrations of Reconstruction: Life after the World Wars. Kirby came home from the South Pacific six months after the war ended. With his grandfather’s help, he had a job when he received his discharge in June. Though his health had deteriated somewhat, we married in September. He had only a few hundred dollars that he’d been able to save out of his $25 to $35 per month pay during his two years of service. We needed a car and wanted a home. However, we were able to live with my parents. In 1947, we bought a used Oldsmobile that was like new, in 1948, we moved into a small temporary home, and in 1949, our son was born. There were some tough times during those years, but we were happy. It was 1952 before Kirby started the business that he had dreamed he’d have. My only sister married and moved to Michigan. I lost both parents by 1955. The 18 months between Daddy and Mother’s death were sad ones for her. She seemed like another child instead of my parent. Struggles are intermingled between the happy times.
Why did you decide to publish with Infinity Publishing?
After I obtained information from companies that did Publish-on-Demand in Writer’s Digest, I determined Infinity Publishing offered the best for the money. Since then, I’ve used them to publish four books.
For more information on Catherine C. Brooks' book War Brought Trials and Anxiety at Home and Overseas, visit any of the following: