Eternal Flame by Alexa Kang
“Last night, I loved you a lifetime and more.”
16-year-old Julia Olsen’s world is falling apart. Her quarterback boyfriend broke up with her. Her family’s new home under renovation is a mess. Her high school counselor won’t stop harping on about her grades. A time-traveling WWII soldier crashing into her room is the last thing she needs.
In 1944, 18-year-old Edmond Ferris answered the draft and headed to war in France. A chance discovery brought him home to Chicago…in 1989! He’s back in his own room, except a strange girl is living in it. She drives a Japanese car and she listens to Milli Vanilli, a German band.
Is their encounter an error in time or a will of fate?
Find out in this timeless tale of two young people whose love for each other knows no bounds.
Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?
A) Thank you, Abby, for giving me a chance to share my writing experience with your blog readers. My name is Alexa Kang. My fiction writing journey started in 2015. “Rose of Anzio”, my debut series, was first published in 2016. It is a WWII historical fiction love story that begins in pre-war Chicago, and chronicles the US Army 3rd Division’s experience during the Battle of Anzio in Italy and beyond.
Originally, “Rose of Anzio” was a hobby project. Prior to that, I had written a fanfiction story that was very well-received, so much so that it was translated into French, Spanish, and Italian by other fans. With their encouragement, I began writing “Rose of Anzio”, and shared with my fanfic readers each chapter as I wrote. They gave me such positive feedback that I decided to turn the story into a full, professionally written series for publication. So far, the story has been a success.
After I finished writing “Rose of Anzio”, Ed Ferris, an 18-year-old soldier in Book 4 of that series, stayed in my mind. “Eternal Flame” is his story. It is a time-travel love story in which he travels into the future to 1989 and meets Julia, the girl who now lives in his house and his room. Through her relationship with Ed, Julia begins to appreciate history and the past, and learns to value the good things in her world which she takes for granted.
More importantly, we get the chance to fall in love with Ed. I felt that one thing we historical fiction writers can do more than historians is that we can show something poignant by bringing readers into our stories. We can let them feel and experience what people lived through in historical eras. If readers become invested in Ed and care about him, they will instinctively understand the greatness of the young men in that generation, what they had to go through, and some of the sacrifices they had to make. Non-fiction writers can share facts but not the emotions. My hope is that this story will evoke strong emotions from younger readers in future generations, and draw them to become more interest in WWII.
“Eternal Flame” will be on sale for 99c during a Kindle Countdown deal in the US and the UK from September 12-18.
Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?
A) I wish I have a more methodical answer to this, but I don’t. As a writer, I very much write to my muse. Ideas sprout into my head when a character springs to life in my mind. I like writing big, sweeping love stories. My stories are never strictly romance, but the love story arc always plays a big role in what I write. I’m most invested when I fall in love with the male characters myself. The characters live in my head and occupy my mind, and I have no peace until I put the entire story down in writing.
Aside from that, I have an amazing team of people who help me get my story right. I can’t do anything half-baked, so I go the distance to make sure that everything is as good as can be. I work with a great editor who helps me with developmental and copy edits. For military and battle related scenes, I work with my “military editor” who was a real US army veteran. I also consult with a military historian when I plan my battle scenes. There are numerous other friends who I consult for information: doctors for medical care scenes, veterinarians for scenes involving injured animals, to name just a few. My proofreaders and cover artist all contributed to make my books quality products that my readers deserve.
Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?
A) “Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell will always be my gold standard for sweeping sagas of love.
For WWII novels and 20th century historical fiction, I recommend: “Memory of Us” by Camille Di Maio; “Making Faces” by Amy Harmon; “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles; and “A Hope at the End of the World” by Sarah Lark.
As a writer, my all-time favorite author would always be Ernest Hemmingway because I love his writing style. Short, concise sentences and no wasted words. I strive to do the same in my writing. He wasn’t one to describe his characters in details. I, too, like to leave my characters to my readers’ imaginations, and not dwell extensively on a lot of physical traits.
Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?
A) I loved Stephen King. I was a horror fan growing up. As a writer myself now, what I appreciate about him is not only his spooky, creative mind, but how he eases readers into the story by the way he presents his characters. He can do this like no others. Right away, you’re in the story because you can immediately identify with his characters. It is one of my goals to learn to do what he can do.
Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?
A) My favourite moments are when American readers who had lived through WWII contacted me to tell me how much they loved my books. I absolutely did not expect this. I say American because a lot of books set in WWII focus on the European experience, and the “Rose of Anzio” stories are unique in that they are about the American experience. One of the readers told me she and her best friend worked in Chicago during the early 1940s—the same time when “Rose of Anzio Book 1 -Moonlight” took place—and they both loved my story. To know that my story resonated with people who had experienced that time was priceless.
Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?
A) My husband, Dan, has been amazing. When I’m writing a story, I can become absolutely immersed in that world. He’s been super supportive and understanding whenever I retrieved into my story worlds and neglected him or our cat.
My original fanfic readers who followed me throughout my journey gave me the confidence to share what I wrote with a wider audience. Also, fellow writer Mylius Fox, who I met on a writing forum. We write in different genres but often bounce ideas about writing and promoting our books. His debut thriller, “Bandit”, came out just last month.
*Thank you for taking part in the Q&A on my blog, I wish you every success with your writing career.
“Eternal Flame” Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/Tm6X7kSRwzo
Love stories set against earth shattering events. People whose love overcomes monumental catastrophes and endures till the end of time. Those are the stories that always moved me. Romeo & Juliet, Gone With the Wind, Titanic, Love in the Fallen City by Eileen Chang. The characters in these stories are bigger than life, and their love is something we aspire to but ordinarily can only dream about.
I never intended to become a fiction writer, and I never planned on writing a book. For me, writing began as a hobby. About a year ago, I posted short stories I wrote on a forum dedicated to a fictional couple I loved when I was growing up. Along the way, the scene of Anthony and Tessa under the moonlight on the beach by Lake Michigan came to me. The image stayed in my mind. Their story grew in my head and could not be contained. I had to write it. It was as if they had a story to tell, and I was their instrument through which they shared all that they experienced.
It took four full-length novels to tell their entire story. Now, I am thrilled to share it with you. While writing this story, I learned so much about Chicago’s amazingly rich history, life in the early 1940s, and the Battle of Anzio, a heart-wrenching, heroic effort by the Allied soldiers that has been overshadowed by the vast success of Normandy. Although Rose of Anzio is at heart a love story, I hope it will give everyone who reads it a glimpse of what life might have been like for those who had lived through these times.
Oh, and yes, the person in the photo really is me.