Gwen Cole’s new book, Cold Summer, (released earlier this month!) has one of the coolest-sounding plots I’ve read so of course I was thrilled to get the chance to interview the author! Read on to learn all about her writing process, as well as news of her next release. Plus, if you’ve gotten the chance to read this book, feel free to share your thoughts/compliments for the author in the comments (but NO spoilers!) 🙂
Cold Summer by Gwen Cole
Genre: Sci-Fi / YA
Today, he’s a high school dropout with no future.
Tomorrow, he’s a soldier in World War II.
Kale Jackson has spent years trying to control his time-traveling ability but hasn’t had much luck. One day he lives in 1945, fighting in the war as a sharpshooter and helplessly watching soldiers—friends—die. Then the next day, he’s back in the present, where WWII has bled into his modern life in the form of PTSD, straining his relationship with his father and the few friends he has left. Every day it becomes harder to hide his battle wounds, both physical and mental, from the past.
When the ex-girl-next-door, Harper, moves back to town, thoughts of what could be if only he had a normal life begin to haunt him. Harper reminds him of the person he was before the PTSD, which helps anchor him to the present. With practice, maybe Kale could remain in the present permanently and never step foot on a battlefield again. Maybe he can have the normal life he craves.
But then Harper finds Kale’s name in a historical article—and he’s listed as a casualty of the war. Kale knows now that he must learn to control his time-traveling ability to save himself and his chance at a life with Harper. Otherwise, he’ll be killed in a time where he doesn’t belong by a bullet that was never meant for him
Intriguing, right? And now to meet the author…
Sam/ Spines: Let’s start off with a little game to learn more about you: what are two truths and a lie about yourself?
Gwen Cole: I broke my arm falling off a horse, I never went to High School, I’ve never been out of the country (the last one is the lie, I’ve been in Canada because that totally counts)
S: How did you get started in writing? Have you always wanted to be a writer?
GC: I started writing a little later than most writers. I was twenty, loved to read YA, and my sister said to me, “You should try writing.” So I did. Never even thought about it before she asked.
S: With WWII serving as half of your timeline, did you do a lot of research for historical accuracy in your book? Can you describe your process?
GC: I didn’t want to write a ‘historical fiction’, but instead, have an almost contemporary book with a touch of history and sci-fi, and I wanted my WWII scenes to have a certain feel to them. So instead of focusing on the facts, I focused more on my character and how the war looks through his eyes. Rather than wondering about where he was or what towns were nearby, he was worried about his friends and wondering how many of them would survive.
S: PTSD features heavily in Cold Summer. Did you set out to tell a story about this disorder or did it come about naturally through your writings of WWII?
GC: When I first started writing Kale, he had PTSD right from the start. I didn’t plot the book or character around it, it’s just who he is. So yes, it came naturally.
S: What inspired you to tell this story?
GC: This book actually started out as a summer book—no WWII or time-traveling. But after about five chapters and me becoming very bored with it, I decided to stop and re-think it. At the time I was binging on Band of Brothers and one day my summer book became something much different.
S: What are you working on next?
GC: Right now, I’m working on edits for my next book, RIDE ON, scheduled to come out next spring: A western set in the near future in which a teen outlaw crosses paths with a girl whose brother has been taken by the Lawmen gang. When a long-buried secret is revealed, her rescue mission becomes his quest for revenge.
S: And now for some fun questions: What is your Hogwarts house?
S: Favourite flavour of ice cream?
GC: Cookies ‘n’ cream
S: Dogs or cats?
S: And finally, where can we find you?
About the Author: Gwen Cole grew up in upstate New York and then moved to Virginia where she did not graduate college. Instead she played bass guitar in a hardcore band and later married the lead guitarist. She enjoys large jigsaw puzzles, playing Xbox and softball, and watching movies. Gwen now lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband, daughter, and very large dog, where she longs to live in the country again.