Stephanie Morrill writes books about girls who are on an adventure to discover their unique place in the world. She is the author of several contemporary young adult series, as well as the 1920s mystery, The Lost Girl of Astor Street, and the WWII era romance, Within These Lines. Since 2010, Stephanie has been encouraging the next generation of writers at her website, GoTeenWriters.com. She lives in the Kansas City area, where she loves plotting big and small adventures to enjoy with her husband and three children. You can connect with Stephanie and learn more about her books at StephanieMorrill.com, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
I’ve enjoyed Stephanie Morrill’s books since I discovered them a few years ago. She is one of the contributors to the Go Teen Writers site, which is devoted to helping young writers improve and meet their goals, and has helped me greatly in my own writing.
Her newest book, Within These Lines, is releasing in March. I received an ARC of it several weeks ago and will be posting a review on Monday.
I was delighted when she agreed to answer a few questions for a writing/reading/fun stuff interview. It’s great to have her here. Enjoy!
What inspired Within These Lines? How does the idea for a story come to you?
I’m obsessed with podcasts, especially Stuff You Missed in History Class. They did a two-part episode on Executive Order 9066, which is the order Franklin D. Roosevelt signed that gave the US government permission to evacuate Japanese Americans and put them in concentration camps.
I found these episodes fascinating, and because I’ve always written for teenagers the idea popped into my head, “What would’ve happened if there was a Caucasian teenage girl who was in love with a Japanese American teenage boy, and his family was taken away?” As I researched a little bit, I realized the story could be even more interesting if my Caucasian teenage girl was actually an Italian American teenage girl, since Italy was aligned with Germany and Japan, yet Japanese Americans were the only people group targeted as a whole with the incarceration.
What does your writing process look like? What’s the hardest part of writing a book for you?
I’ve been writing stories all my life, but writing historical fiction is relatively new to me. Trying to find that balance of historical detail without crossing over into tedious is difficult, especially with a topic like the incarceration of the Japanese Americans where the history is so complex. I love the challenge, though!
How do you balance writing with blogging, family, and other life stuff?
I’ve learned a lot about setting boundaries and establishing priorities! My oldest is 11 now, but I received my first book contract when she was 6 months old, so my kids are used to thinking of me as a working mom. And while I wrote full time before I had kids, I wasn’t published until after so this is a balancing act I’ve been working on the whole time. I say no to a lot–play dates, lunch with friends, binge watching TV, volunteering at school–so that I can yes to what really matters to me: quality family time, writing fiction, and mentoring young writers on GoTeenWriters.com.
One of your favorite books? Has reading influenced your writing?
Reading totally influences my writing! Stephen King says “If you don’t have time for reading, you don’t have time for writing,” and I 100% agree. A book I just read that earned its place as one of my all-time faves is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It’s such a charming novel, and its like a love letter to books and the reading life in general. Fantastic!
Which of all your characters is most like you? Do you write yourself into stories?
I try very hard to not write myself into my stories as a character, though there are pieces of me in all of them. Or sometimes there are pieces of what I hope I could be like, as in Evalina’s passion in Within These Lines. Probably the character who is most like me is Ellie Sweet from my contemporary YA novels. She’s an aspiring teen writer, just like I was, so a ton of my insecurities got dumped into that poor girl!
I hope you enjoyed learning more about Stephanie Morrill! Add Within These Lines to your TBR and watch for my review.