Kristina McMorris is the author of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves (Kensington, February 2012), the story of a Caucasian violinist who secretly elopes with her Japanese-American boyfriend the night before Pearl Harbor is bombed--then joins him when he is interned at a war relocation camp. Her first novel, Letters from Home, was inspired by her grandparents' wartime courtship. She has worked as a weekly TV host since age nine, and lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two sons, where she refuses to own an umbrella.
On your nightstand now:
Two lovely ARCs, Sarah McCoy's The Baker's Daughter and Erika Robuck's Hemingway's Girl, and, like the rest of America, Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus.
Favorite book when you were a child:
Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume. "We must increase our bust" became my preteen mantra; in fact, it might still be.
Your top five authors:
Sara Gruen for Water for Elephants, which solidified my choice to write historicals; Ruta Sepetys for Between Shades of Gray, because her book continues to haunt me; Markus Zusak for The Book Thief, a heart-wrenching poem of a novel; Jodi Picoult, the queen of inspiration and first pages; and Alma Katsu for mesmerizing me with her page-turner The Taker.
Book you've faked reading:
The Bible in my required Religion 101 class in college. There. I finally said it. I shall now await the bolt of lightning to strike me down.
Book you're an evangelist for:
Like Oprah with The Color Purple, I hand out copies of Between Shades of Gray as if it's required reading. Any novel that begins with "They took me in my nightgown" yet manages to guide the reader through every page, even historical atrocities, with a sense of hope is a work that needs to be shared.
Book you've bought for the cover:
The Last Will of Moira Leahy by Therese Walsh (hardcover). Eerily beautiful, just like the story.
Book that changed your life:
Not a book, but letters. I was a non-reader/non-writer six years ago, when my grandparents' World War II courtship letters inspired me to pen Letters from Home. The couple's wrinkled, yellowed, endearing pages changed the course of my life. Later, it was World War II letters again, this time written by Japanese Americans in U.S. internment camps, that helped shaped my next novel, Bridge of Scarlet Leaves. As the daughter of a Japanese immigrant father and Caucasian American mother, I truly believe--all clichés aside--that it's a book I was meant to write.
Favorite line from a book:
Death, the narrator, on war: "I've seen so many young men over the years who think they're running at other young men. They are not. They are running at me." --Markus Zusak, The Book Thief
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
I'm feeling a bit repetitive here, but I have to say The Book Thief. It's one of the few books that have brought me to tears, and the only one I ever felt compelled to reread the minute I finished it.