Interview & Giveaway: The War Between Us by Sarah Creviston Lee

Happy Friday eve, dear readers! Today on the blog I have an interview with Sarah Creviston Lee as part of her blog tour with HF Virtual Book Tours. I had the pleasure of reading her novel The War Between Us and absolutely loved it and was so happy when she was able to answer some questions for me.

You can read my review of The War Between Us here. I hope you enjoy getting to know Sarah!

Hello Sarah and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about The War Between Us!

To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and your writing?

Sure! I live in Maryland with my husband and homeschool our three kids. I blog about history, museums, and WWII rationing at History: Preserved ( At university, I earned my degree in History and a certificate in Museum Studies. I’m an Indiana native who grew up loving to read, spending a lot of time outdoors, and discovering a passion for history. I’ve worked in museums since I was 13.

As for my writing, I squeeze it in when and where I can, at the library, but mostly Starbucks (because they’re open late!). I pretty much write there until they kick me out. It’s a slow process in the midst of my busy life, but even slow progress moves a book forward!

What inspired you to write The War Between Us?

My inspiration came from two different places.

I’ve loved studying WWII since I was a teenager, so that’s been apart of me for a long time. I rediscovered that love about five or six years ago, and in the midst of that time I also got hooked on watching Korean dramas. After awhile, the historian in me thought, “I wonder what the Korean Americans were doing during WWII…” I went on a hunt to find out, and that’s where I got excited. There was almost nothing out there about their experiences. Of course, this presented its own research problems, but as a historian, finding an incredible story like this that hasn’t been written about is so rare. I knew I wanted to be the first one to write about it.

The other inspiration was a story I’d heard since I was a girl about my Great Aunt Elaine and her Chinese husband, Harry. They’d married in the 1930s, had four beautiful children, and then she sadly died of an illness. A few months later, all four children died in a tragic house fire – my Great Uncle Harry had lost his whole family in less than 6 months. Their sad story stuck with my through my childhood, and as I begun writing my book, I wanted to know some of my great aunt’s motives for taking such a risk in marrying a minority in a time when that was really frowned upon. While my story isn’t based on their lives, my journey into finding more about them served as a muse for my own main characters’ love story.

What research did you undertake when writing The War Between Us?

Securing research about Korean Americans during WWII was my top priority. I was so grateful someone had written their doctoral dissertation on that very subject, so that served as my main resource and it was so valuable. Secondly, and this might sound funny, but I drew upon my 2 years of watching Korean dramas to serve as my foundation for learning about the Korean culture, family/society social structures, language, mannerisms, food, etc. Of course, I didn’t let that be my only resource. I gave my draft to my friend and her mother, who were Korean, and they were able to correct a few mistakes and give their stamp of approval for the rest. This step was very important to me, because I wanted to represent the Korean story in the best and most correct way that I could.

As for everything else with 1940s home front America, I collected original women’s magazines, studied fashion, drew on my experience of ration cooking from my collection of wartime cookbooks, learned about specific towns in Indiana to base my fictional town on, read 1940s newspaper articles, etc. Anytime I wasn’t sure about something, I dug until I found an answer. One example was pinpointing the exact times and details of the draft age changes in the midst of the war. It was pretty confusing, but I was able to enlist the help of two stellar professional genealogists to answer my questions! While I was able to do a lot of research up front, it was really an ongoing process in the midst of writing the story.

What would you like readers to take away from reading The War Between Us?

I’d really love readers to come away from the book having learned about an untold story from wartime America – that prejudice existed in many forms and these stories in history can serve as valuable lessons for us today. Another thing that was important for me to convey was that what people usually see in stereotypes of the 1940s shows the garish and wild side of the time and people. While my book isn’t meant to be religious, I wanted to portray that most people during that time were religious, and it was a huge part of their lives. I think this aspect of American life tends to get swept under the rug in favor of more exciting things, but being religious was just so ordinary then.

What was your favorite scene to write?

My favorite scene to write was Alex’s reaction the next morning after he and Lonnie have kissed, and he’s freaking out because he doesn’t know what to do next.

What was the most difficult scene to write?

The most difficult scene to write was near the end where Teddy attacks Lonnie and fights with Alex for the last time. My characters had been through so much up to that point and I knew what else still had to happen (more violence), and knowing this made it very difficult for me to face. I think I put it off for at least a week, and even then I was still in tears for much of the writing.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

In 1st grade I decided I wanted to be a writer after my teacher gave us hardcover blank books to write in. I was hooked on the possibilities! In 7th grade I wrote my first novel (rubbish of course), but it was lots of fun. I knew I wanted to publish a book after that and made it a goal to do just that.

What does your daily writing routine look like?

Because of the demand homeschooling and caring for my 3 kids takes, my routine is more weekly. I’m able to go out 1-3 nights a week to work on writing, marketing, historical research, or planning my writing projects. Sometimes it’s just blog posts I’m writing, other times it’s working on scenes that come to me for one of the four books I have going right now (!!!). I think once I have my own office I’ll have a more organized method to things, but my routine now is just getting work done pieces at a time.

Who are your writing inspirations?

I currently have three writing inspirations:

First, is Temple Bailey who was an early 20th century American writer. She perfected the art of beautiful, descriptive writing with lovely depth of thought. I always come away from her books with my mind opened and my heart inspired.

Secondly, is Nigel Tranter. He was a prolific Scottish writer whose organic way of plotting his books, by taking long walks in the countryside, treading the earth of where his stories were set, has inspired me deeply about how important it is to embrace your writing process, and about all the love and passion we, as writers, can bring to the page.

And lastly, is Jonathan Stroud. His Lockwood & Co. series is phenomenal. I’ve learned so much about suspense, description, and world building from reading his books. Not to mention, he writes a deliciously spooky story!

What was the first historical novel you read?

I actually don’t remember the first one, but one book from my childhood that I’ve read multiple times, and has always stuck with me is the Civil War fiction book Red Cap by G. Clifton Wisler. My memories of reading WWII fiction books run together. I read every single YA WWII book my library had and, not surprisingly, ended up with nightmares.

What is the last historical novel you read?

The last historical novel I read is In Another Time by Caroline Leech. It’s a WWII fiction set in Scotland with a Women’s Timber Corp member as the protagonist. It was a great read!

What are three things people may not know about you?

1. I was born in a car in front of a cathedral.
2. When I was a nanny in New York back in 2000, I spent most of my spare personal time at the NY Public Library scrolling through newspapers on microfilm to do research on the newsboy strike of 1899, and I met a cast member of the movie Newsies. #teenagergoals Haha!
3. I own almost 200 cookbooks, most of them historical. Eek! (It’s a good thing most of them are skinny pamphlets…)

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

I love the hunt of research for historical fiction. I think it’s the most fun part. I also enjoy recreating a time gone by with realistic characters.

What historical time period do you gravitate towards the most with your personal reading?

It really varies. I like reading all kinds of time periods – from the Celtic times to Regency to Industrial Revolution to WWII. I’m especially drawn to stories involving evolution of technology and its uses in society.

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

I love hanging out at antique shops, dabbling in photography, catching up on some Korean, British or Canadian shows I love, or diving into my historical cookbook collection to find new recipes to experiment with. I go through cycles of reading, sewing, crafting, and knitting too.

Lastly, what are you working on next?

Oh boy, I’ve given myself a full plate! I’m about a third of the way through the first draft of my next WWII book called Through Fields of War, which is a continuation of wartime in River Bluff, but from the perspectives of Walter and Rose, two friends of Lonnie in my first book. I’ve also got a contemporary romance I’m actively working on, a fantasy adventure story in the planning stages, and a historical/fantasy that I’ve started writing too.

Oh those sound great! I look forward to hearing more about those. Thank you for spending time with us today! Thank you for giving me the chance to read your amazing book!

The War Between Us by Sarah Creviston Lee

Publication Date: December 14, 2015
Paperback & eBook; 330 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

Editor's Choice Award from the Historical Novel Society.

Alex Moon is not the enemy.

Six months after Pearl Harbor's tragedy, Korean American Alex Moon is sent away from his home in California for refusing his father's request to join the fight against the Japanese. On his journey, Alex is attacked and stranded in the small town of River Bluff, Indiana just for looking like America's most hated enemy.

Unexpectedly, Alex is befriended by a local girl, Lonnie Hamilton, who comes to his defense, saving him from doubt and despair while placing herself in the cross hairs of prejudice. Alex falls in love with his ally---a love that is clearly forbidden. Torn between his dual identities, Korean and American, and grappling with how everyone sees him, Alex must wage the war within himself---of defending who he is, resolving his tortured feelings about the war, and fighting for the woman he loves.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

Praise for The War Between Us

"Sarah Creviston Lee crafts a smart, fast-paced, uncensored, and quite moving story of embattled love and obstacles overcome. Even her unsavory characters are warmly, believably drawn, and the character of Lonnie Hamilton herself is wonderfully authentic. I read hungrily as the story picked up pace. Highly recommended." -Laura Fahey, The Historical Novel Society

"Lonnie and Alex are perfect renderings of their time, cultures, and upbringings. Anyone familiar with multicultural literature will find a new author to love, and readers new to a beautifully developed look at a culture unlike ours will find a new genre to love. Lonnie isn't immune to her town's prejudice against Alex, but she is able to think things through before reacting. Alex is a moving and heartbreaking picture of a young man caught between two cultures and hated for events not of his making. Together, they are remarkable." -Julie York, InD'Tale Magazine

"Debuting author Sarah Creviston Lee bursts into the historical fiction market with The War Between Us, a distinctive glimpse at post-Pearl Harbor America and the Asian American citizens caught in the resulting backlash of heightened nationalism and fear. Her honest and empathetic handling of the issues, as well as her complex characters, make this a read that remains with you after the cover is closed." -Laurie L. C. Lewis, award-winning author of the Free Men and Dreamers series

About the Author

Sarah Creviston Lee was born and raised as a proud Hoosier. She can usually be found tinkering in the kitchen with WWII ration recipes, haunting local antique shops, homeschooling her kids, clacking away on her laptop writing one story or another, or watching old school movies with her family.

She currently lives in Maryland with her husband, three children, and flock of feisty chickens.

In 2016, her book, The War Between Us, received the Editor's Choice Award from the Historical Novel Society.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest

Blog Tour Schedule

Friday, December 7
Feature at Tar Heel Reader
Review at Passages to the Past

Saturday, December 8
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Review at Jorie Loves a Story

Monday, December 10
Review at Bri's Book Nook
Feature at Old Timey Books
Feature at What Is That Book About

Tuesday, December 11
Feature at The Book Junkie Reads

Wednesday, December 12
Feature at A Book Geek
Feature at The Caffeinated Bibliophile

Thursday, December 13
Review at Creating Herstory
Interview at Passages to the Past

Friday, December 14
Review & Excerpt at Clarissa Reads it All
Review, Excerpt, and Q&A at Confessions of an Avid Reader

Saturday, December 15
Feature at The Chocolate Lady's Book Review Blog

Monday, December 17
Excerpt at Jathan & Heather
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away 2 paperback copies of The War Between Us! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on December 17th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

The War Between Us

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