Amy Lynn Green has always loved history and reading, and she enjoys speaking with book clubs, writing groups, and libraries all around the country. Her debut novel, Things We Didn’t Say, was nominated for a 2021 Minnesota Book Award, won two Carol Awards, and received a starred review from both Booklist and Library Journal.
In this interview, Amy talks with us about her more recent WWII novel, The Blackout Book Club.
FF: All three of your novels take place during WWII. What about this era fascinates you, and what do you believe is the draw for readers?
WWII is brimming with stories and drama, whether overseas or at home, and I think readers never tire of the high stakes and fascinating details about the era. All three of my novels have focused on different aspects of the American home front—conflict around prisoner of war camps, the sacrifice of conscientious objectors, and now the U-boat battle in the Atlantic and the importance of Rosie the Riveter workers during the war years. I love telling lesser-known historical details that took place on this side of the Atlantic, and the United States setting allows for a few more lighthearted and humorous moments than the understandably more somber stories set on the front lines or in occupied countries.
FF: Can you tell us a little more about who or what inspired you to write this story?
Most of my stories start with a historical fact that intrigues me, and this one is no different. I learned that a group of civilians with sailing experience—from Prohibition rumrunners to wealthy yachters—volunteered their time and their vessels to patrol the East Coast for U-boats to aid the Coast Guard. This “Hooligan Navy,” as it was nicknamed, plays a small part in the novel, but I loved including it, and that’s what inspired me to set the novel in beautiful coastal Maine.
FF: The Blackout Book Club has been called “an ode to books and libraries, but also an ode to human connection.” What purpose does the book club serve for these women in your novel?
That was my favorite part of this novel, actually! There are four main characters in the novel, from very different backgrounds and social standings, thrown together in this book club. Each of them has a reason to isolate themselves, and each slowly learns how to trust each other, form friendships, and find community through the stories they love. Plus, it was a wonderful chance to include a variety of heated opinions on books of the time that I loved (or hated).
FF: As a book lover and author yourself, what do you find valuable about book clubs today?
As an author, I’ve been privileged to speak with many book clubs around the country, and as a reader, I’ve enjoyed participating in them. What has struck me every time is the depth and richness that the diversity of opinions brings to the discussions. Everyone has thoughts and interpretations and experiences that make a book come to life in new ways. It’s so much more than the fun of a shared hobby (though we all need people who understand that “just one more page” is usually a lie). It’s about loving books even more after hearing others’ perspectives on them. I hope real life book clubs enjoy meeting Avis, Ginny, Louise, Martina, and the rest—and hearing their thoughts on some classic stories.
FF: What aspect of home front life from your research was your favorite to work into the novel?
I especially enjoyed writing about the Victory Book Campaign, where citizens donated millions of books of interest to the troops to fill base libraries and to be distributed to men on the front lines. Popular topics ranged from textbooks to classics to Western to mystery novels. This was a huge morale-booster for the men, often starved for entertainment, and one soldier declared that books were more popular than pin-up girls! Many credit wartime initiatives like this one with making reading a common pastime for the average American, not just an elite few.
FF: What lessons do you hope readers will gain from reading The Blackout Book Club?
I hope readers come away with a greater appreciation for the support and encouragement of people in their lives, whether that’s family, longtime friends, a faith community, neighbors, or even book club members. As I wrote, I found myself challenged to be better at asking for help, seeking advice, and living life with those around me. We really do need each other.
FF: What are you working on next?
I’m midway through writing a novel that starts with an all-female Midwestern swing orchestra…that eventually travels to the desert front of North Africa with a USO camp show to entertain the troops there. It’s been a joy to travel to Morocco and Algeria through my research and slip in some of the incredible and dangerous experiences that real performers had as they put on a show for the men overseas.
The Blackout Book Club
Amy Lynn Green
Genres: Historical, World War II Fiction
Release Date: November 15, 2022
An impulsive promise to her combat-bound brother lands Avis Montgomery the position of head librarian in small-town Maine. Never much of a reader herself, Avis starts a book club in hopes of keeping library doors open when dark times threaten to close them down.
At first glance, the rag-tag group of women who attend the first meeting couldn’t be more different. But as the women face personal challenges and band together as war comes dangerously close, they find they have more in common than they think.
As growing friendships are tested by secrets of the past and present, they must decide whether depending on each other is worth the cost. Transporting readers to a fascinating and complicated time in world history, Green highlights the power of story in this thoughtful tale that Susan Meissner and Lisa Wingate fans won’t want to miss.
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Buy The Blackout Book Club from Amazon HERE!