I thought I’d do something a bit different and let Erica Brogna, the heroine in my debut novel BURNING HEARTS interview Kristin Taylor, the heroine in Cathy West’s YESTERDAY’S TOMORROW.
Erica, a character from the post WWII period (1946), was intrigued when she learned about career-driven journalist Kristin who hailed from the Viet Nam era in YESTERDAY’S TOMORROW. Erica became impressed with Kristin’s commitment to go to war-torn Viet Nam in 1967. So much so, that Erica had a burning desire to interview Kristin in honor of Veterans Day.
Erica: I’m thrilled that you were able to do this interview. In my time, Kristin, I was considered daring simply because after I married I opened my own dress shop and would occasionally be seen around the village in slacks. Of course, that was 1946. YESTERDAY’S TOMORROW is set in 1967 and you courageously took off for the battleground of Viet Nam hoping to garner a Pulitzer Prize. That’s quite ambitious. Can you tell us what motivated you?
Kristin: Thanks, Erica! I think my driving ambition to become a foreign correspondent was due in large part to my father. He was one of the best. He died in Vietnam on assignment, when I was twelve. I always knew I wanted to write stories like him, but after his death it was more like something I had to do. After my brother enlisted, I didn’t see any reason to stick around. I went to Vietnam to discover the truth and try to form my own understanding of a war that seemed confusing to everyone I talked to back home.
Erica: You must have seen many injured and dead US soldiers in Viet Nam. I recall that in my era, by the end of Word War II, I was heartsick because we’d lost so many boys in the war. How did you handle your emotions witnessing many horrific scenes?
Kristin: At first I wasn’t sure I’d be able to stomach it. Nothing could have prepared me for the things I saw in Vietnam. When you’re sitting at home watching the news, it doesn’t really sink in. But when it’s right there in front of you, death, that’s when you know you’ve woken up in hell. Over there people had different ways of coping. They partied. Talked sports. Anything to get their minds off what was going on around them. I tried to ignore it, tell myself it didn’t matter, but of course it did. After a while I kind of got numb, you know? Once I came home I knew I had to deal with those feelings. But it was hard.
Erica: In my time, US military personnel were held in the highest esteem in America. I always carried a special honor and respect in my heart for GIs and veterans. I married one. It was quite different during the Viet Nam War. Boys going to battle then weren’t given the respect they deserved. How did you feel about that when you knew so well what they suffered in the war?
Kristin: It made me sick to see how our boys were treated when they came home. Almost like second-class citizens. Like they’d
done something wrong, committed a great sin by going to Vietnam and fighting for their country. I was even treated with disdain because I wrote stories about the war. Most people at home just didn’t get it. There was little to no support for our GIs once they hit American soil. After everything they went through, all they gave up, its just tragic, really.
Erica: By the end of WWII, II was in a pretty serious spiritual crisis. Our tiny village had lost so many of the boys I’d grown up with. How did the things you witnessed affect your spiritual life? Did it totally alter your worldview?
Kristin: Absolutely. Nothing was the same for me after Vietnam. For a long time though, I was very angry with God. I couldn’t understand how he could allow such devastation, so many lives were being lost, and there seemed no end to the horror. Even when I came home, I still wasn’t ready to fully acknowledge who God was or that I needed him in my life. I was in crisis, I just didn’t know it. I think when you witness so much tragedy, it changes you. Hardens you and sows seeds of bitterness if you let it. But God didn’t give up on me, and eventually I came to realize my need for Him and that sometimes there just aren’t answers to the hard questions. God’s grace is sufficient.
Erica: Let’s talk a little out of school. Do you think there will be a sequel to YESTERDAY’S TOMORROW? You know author Cathy West better than most. What other projects is she working on?
Kristin: Well, I suppose there should be more to this story, shouldn’t there? I have a feeling between Luke and I, we can convince her to continue our story at some point. At the moment though I think she’s working on a few other projects, but none of them have bombs going off or anything. Not very exciting if you ask me.
Author Bio: Educated in Bermuda, England and Canada, Catherine holds a degree in English from the University of Toronto. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. Catherine and her husband live on the beautiful island of Bermuda, with their two college-aged children. Catherine is a member of Romance Writers of America, and American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and is a founding member of International Christian Fiction Writers. Catherine’s debut novel YESTERDAY’S TOMORROW, released through OakTara Publishers. Catherine’s next novel, Hidden in the Heart is coming soon, also through OakTara.
Purchase Links: a
Oak Tara Publishers. http://www.oaktara.com
Cathy’s Website: http://www.catherinejwest.com