Interview with Author Kristin Harmel | Author Jan Moran
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Owned & Operated by Sunny Palms Press, LLC.
Owned & Operated by Sunny Palms Press, LLC.
Owned & Operated by Sunny Palms Press, LLC.

Interview with Author Kristin Harmel

Authors Jan Moran (l) and Kristin Harmel (r)Last year I had the pleasure of meeting New York Times bestselling author Kristin Harmel on the grand old vessel, Queen Mary, now docked in Long Beach. We have both written books set in vineyards and France, so I had the pleasure of reading her books before we met at featured authors at an Adventures by the Book event in January of 2020, spoke with readers, and explored the ship with a cohort of other authors.

Kristin recently took take out of her busy schedule to share thoughts on her upcoming novel, The Forest of Vanishing Stars. You might have also read her recent The Book of Lost Names or The Winemaker's Wife, both 5-star reads. Her upcoming book is now available on pre-order everywhere, so give yourself the gift of a future surprise.

About The Forest of Vanishing Stars: A Novel

Forest of Vanishing Stars ARC cover

After being stolen from her wealthy German parents and raised in the unforgiving wilderness of eastern Europe, a young woman finds herself alone in 1941 after her kidnapper dies. Her solitary existence is interrupted, however, when she happens upon a group of Jews fleeing the Nazi terror. Stunned to learn what’s happening in the outside world, she vows to teach the group all she can about surviving in the forest—and in turn, they teach her some surprising lessons about opening her heart after years of isolation. But when she is betrayed and escapes into a German-occupied village, her past and present come together in a shocking collision that could change everything.

Inspired by incredible true stories of survival against staggering odds, and suffused with the journey-from-the-wilderness elements that made Where the Crawdads Sing a worldwide phenomenon, The Forest of Vanishing Stars is a heart-wrenching and suspenseful novel from the #1 internationally bestselling author whose writing has been hailed as “sweeping and magnificent” (Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author), “immersive and evocative” (Publishers Weekly), and “gripping” (Tampa Bay Times).

“Kristin Harmel is a powerful and dazzling voice in historical fiction.” -Patti Callahan, New York Times bestselling author of Surviving Savannah 

Author Interview: Kristin Harmel

Kristin Harmel Photo 1

Your latest book, THE FOREST OF VANISHING STARS, is so intriguing. How did you come up with the idea, and please tell us more.

The Forest of Vanishing Stars is the story of a young woman named Yona who was stolen from her wealthy German parents and raised in the unforgiving wilderness of eastern Europe. In 1941, when her kidnapper dies, Yona knows all about how to survive off the land and how to defend herself against those who would harm her—but she knows almost nothing about the ways of mankind. Soon, though, her life intersects with that of a group of Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazi terror, and she is horrified to learn what is going on in the world outside the safety of her woods.­­ Now she must make a choice: retreat to a life that’s comfortable and safe, or step outside her comfort zone to help save innocent lives? Then, just when Yona has finally grown comfortable with her new existence, she is betrayed, and then a startling confrontation between past and present changes everything.

I’ve always been fascinated by the real-life tales of Jews who survived the war by hiding deep in the forests of eastern Europe and fighting back—and this book is the result of years of research and interviews to help shape the historical backdrop of the story.

How did you get started in your writing career?

I actually started writing professionally at the age of 16, when I began pitching local magazines (I grew up in Tampa Bay, Florida) while cleverly omitting my age from the pitch letters. 😊 From there, I went on to write for a few years for the local magazines, covering sports and entertainment, and for the St. Petersburg Times, covering high school sports and minor league baseball. I wrote for American Baby, Men’s Health, Woman’s Day, and PEOPLE while in college (at the University of Florida), and after I graduated, I became a stringer for PEOPLE. I loved journalism, but I always knew I wanted to write novels. So in 2002, I took a few months off from PEOPLE, paid $600/month to live with a roommate in an apartment in Paris, and began writing my first book, which I sold in 2004, and which was published in early 2006.

Is there one thing you've done in your writing career more than any other that's been the secret to your success?

I honestly think the best secret to success is to sit down each day and write. To me, that’s 80% of the battle. To be a writer, you must put words on paper…. And once you’re doing that, as long as your mind is open, you’ll continue to improve. I also read all the time, which I think consistently makes me a better writer, because being exposed to the way other people write and plot helps me to continue to learn and grow, too.

Do you have an interesting story from research or book tours that you’d like to share?

During the research for THE FOREST OF VANISHING STARS, I had the great privilege of speaking to Aron Bielski (who changed his surname to Bell upon moving to the United States). At 93, he’s the youngest (and only surviving) of the famous Bielski brothers, who helped lead more than 1,200 Jewish refugees out of ghettos and into the woods, where nearly all of them survived the war. His story is extraordinary, and it was fascinating to hear his firsthand memories of hiding in the forest, as my characters do in the book.

In your free time (what’s that, right?), what genre of books do you enjoy reading? Do you follow the work of specific authors? Do you prefer ebook, print, or audio?

I love many genres, but I do tend toward historical fiction and women’s fiction. I love learning new things about both the world and our own hearts. I prefer print books, but I probably read e-books more often, simply for the convenience factor (I often read while putting my son to bed, so I need the illuminated screen). On long car trips, I love audiobooks. But those are few and far between these days!

What’s next on the horizon for you? Any new projects under development?

I just began work on my 2022 novel. It’s a bit too early to talk about it, but rest assured, it will be another return to World War II – and will hopefully show you a side of the war you never knew about before.

Where can readers find you online?

You can find me live every Wednesday night at 7 pm ET (along with Kristy Woodson Harvey, Mary Kay Andrews, Patti Callahan Henry, and Mary Alice Monroe) on the Friends & Fiction Facebook group page at www.facebook.com/groups/FriendsandFiction/. You can also find me at Facebook.com/kristinharmelauthor, and on Twitter and Instagram as @kristinharmel. My website is KristinHarmel.com

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Where to Buy Jan's Books

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Jan’s books are also available to purchase in Deutsch, Dutch, Italiano, Lithuanian, Polish, and Russian. More languages coming soon!

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