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Letters from a French Hospital

Letters from a French Hospital

In October 1914, two-and-a-half months after Germany launched WWI in Europe, Dr. Mary M. Crawford, a graduate of Cornell University (’04) and Cornell Medical College (’07), set sail for France—one of six American surgeons journeying to Paris to assist in medical treatment of combatants at the American Ambulance Hospital at Neuilly-sur-Seine. In Line of Flight, Facebook Twitter Email Print

In Their Words

In Their Words

For anything I’ve ever written, be it fiction or non-fiction, my favorite research is always sifting through primary sources. There is something about reading materials that are unfiltered by someone else’s editorial judgment, in their original form, that gives me chills, as if I’m connecting across time and space to another person’s soul. My research Facebook Twitter Email Print

Men Weren’t the Only Literary Legends to Drive Ambulances in WWI

Men Weren’t the Only Literary Legends to Drive Ambulances in WWI

Literary giants Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, E.E. Cummings, W. Somerset Maugham, Dashiell Hammett—all were aspiring writers when they volunteered as ambulance drivers during World War I. But Hemingway, perhaps the most celebrated for his experience, which he immortalized in A Farewell to Arms and The Sun Also Rises, actually drove an ambulance only once, Facebook Twitter Email Print

Angels in Waiting

Angels in Waiting

Uniforms are cultural artifacts. They encapsulate social values, priorities, gender biases, romanticized ideals, and more. Practicality factors in, too. During WWI, for example, combat soldiers stopped wearing bright colors that had characterized European military uniforms for centuries, in order to make themselves less visible to the enemy in trench warfare. As I built the world Facebook Twitter Email Print

On Creating a Voice

On Creating a Voice

Of the many lessons learned over seven years of writing Line of Flight, one of the most challenging was figuring out the voice of my narrator, Simone Levitsky. I knew in my gut that I needed to tell the story from her point of view, and I wrote early drafts as her journal. It was Facebook Twitter Email Print

In the Trenches

In the Trenches

You can travel the world on the internet, but you can only go so far. About nine months into writing the first draft of my WWI novel, including a 20,000-word false start, I realized that I needed to see and feel the landscapes that existed only in my imagination. Books and online research were my Facebook Twitter Email Print

Eighteen Minutes

Eighteen Minutes

Chances are, you’ve heard of the Titanic. On April 15, 1912, the great British transatlantic steamer struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City. More than 1,500 souls lost their lives in that calamity, which has been memorialized in popular culture ever since. There are books, Facebook Twitter Email Print

A Pigeon Waddles into a Scene

A Pigeon Waddles into a Scene

One of my favorite pieces of writing advice comes from Ann Lamott in Bird by Bird. First drafts are incredibly hard to write and often lousy. She is more blunt: For me and most of the other writers I know, writing is not rapturous. In fact, the only way I can get anything written at Facebook Twitter Email Print

Why Write About World War I?

Why Write About World War I?

Inspiration comes when you least expect it. Seven years ago, when I decided to write a novel, I had no idea what it would be about. After a decade of wrestling with short stories, I finally realized that I prefer to read long fiction. So why struggle to write a form that doesn’t really engage Facebook Twitter Email Print