WWII Women Take Flight! (Author Interview & Book Review)

I'm going to let you in on a little secret - I'm tired of reading books set in WWII. 

Don't get me wrong, I get how important telling these stories of overcoming, of courage, of those who made the ultimate sacrifice are. 

But like anything, you can get too much of something and start to feel over it. Tired of it. Done with it.

And that's how I've been feeling about WWII fiction. It was actually one of the reasons I left my last book club. The stories they chose were predominantly set in during WWII. I just couldn't read about it anymore.

So when author Noelle Salazar contacted me about creating a candle for her upcoming book - set during WWII - I was a little hesitant. Until I learned the topic - women pilots who trained US Troops! Now that I could get into! 

I hadn't read anything like it and I'm so glad I did! The Flight Girls (Release Date: July 2!) is an awesome story! Today I'll be sharing my review of the book - can you guess it's a good one?! - and my interview with Noelle Salazar. 


The Flight Girls by Noelle Salazar

I was lucky to get an ARC of this book so that I could create a candle for Noelle to use with her book launch events. We ended up making a candle that smells like Hawaii - coconut and shea butter - which is where this story begins.

If you know me, you know I don't do a "review" of the book by doing a whole plot summary. If you want to know the details, click the picture to the left and visit the Amazon listing. My job as a reviewer is to tell you what I liked and why I recommend it to others!

What I loved: Strong Women! I mean seriously strong characters who you absolutely adore. I couldn't get enough of them or their story!

What I liked: Although I love Historical Fiction, I often find myself skimming through some of the descriptions. Some authors just can't tell you enough, lol! Noelle Salazar does an AMAZING job not getting bogged down in the historical or technical details but at the same time you do get enough to feel like you are learning something about the era, the situation, etc. 

Recommendation: This book is about friendships between women. Its about finding your calling and not giving up on your dream. There is a romance that is intertwined in the story, but it's not all about that. This is an excellent book that I'd recommend to anyone who loves WWII books, books with strong women characters, and to those who love a book that, once you've finished that last page, you hold close and hug with gratitude for the amazing story you've just been told. 


Now let's meet Noelle Salazar!


Hi Noelle! I’m so glad to have you here today! Before we get into the interview, I like to start with an “ice breaker”. Can you share with my readers what books you’ve been recommending lately”

Hi! Thank you for having me! Well, since I am part of a Debut 2019 Author’s group, I’ve been reading a lot of these author’s books and – I can honestly say – there are some amazing authors debuting novels in 2019. Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips is top of my list. It’s a mystery of two young sisters who go missing and is written in such an original way. You’re not following an investigation, you’re peeking into the lives of townspeople who live on this stark peninsula in Russia – each with a connection to the disappearance in either a strong, or vague, way. It’s about women losing something. About the disappearing earth in their lives. It’s beautiful. Two other books from the same group, The Lost Night by Andi Bartz, and The Winter Sister by Megan Collins. Both are thriller/mysteries. Fun page turners I could not put down.

Outside of this group I’ve been recommending David Sedaris’ Calypso (you will laugh your pants off. Socks too). And in YA, One Of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus – so intriguing, you won’t be able to stop reading until you know who did it.

Oooh! Those sound amazing! Speaking of books, this is your first published novel. What are you doing to celebrate its release (personally or with your readers)?

I’m actually combining my celebration – public AND private – with a launch party at Seattle’s Museum of Flight. The museum has a beautiful WWII exhibit that includes a lovely display about the Women Airforce Service Pilot (WASP), the very women who inspired my book. The event kicks off with a public portion where one of the museum’s living history volunteers will speak, followed by me, and then I will excuse myself and retreat to a private room to celebrate with family and friends. With cake! Because no celebration is complete without cake in my eyes.

What “plot point” in your life got you going on the path to becoming a writer and published author?

Is boredom a plot point? Lol. I’ve always loved writing and entertained, in the deep recesses of my brain, a fantasy of becoming a published author one day, as well as a prima ballerina, popstar and elementary school teacher. I refuse to admit whether or not I’ve given up on those other dreams. But it wasn’t until I happened upon a particular series of books that an idea struck. My first book was not The Flight Girls, but something else I wrote in its entirety and tucked away for another time – or maybe not. Maybe it will never see the light of day again (that’s a joke – as it was about vampires). Two years after writing that first novel, I was inspired to write this one. It took me three years to find the perfect agent, two more for us to find the perfect editor. And nearly two years to debut. But debut it will and I couldn’t be happier.

Let’s talk about The Flight Girls! Set in the U.S. during WWII, your book tells the story of female pilots training soldiers for war. Can you tell us a little about how this topic revealed itself to you and why telling Audrey’s story was so important?

I was actually visiting my aunt when I found this gorgeous stack of books under her end table and started flipping through them. She was studying to be a docent for the Museum of Flight’s new WASP exhibit and I was enchanted by the anecdotes of the women about their time flying. I’ve always love WWII history, the smaller stories of courage and hope, and finding out about this group of women who risked their lives with no military benefits intrigued me. The more I read the more I was enamored by them. They came from all walks of life, with the one common goal of wanting to serve their country in the best way they knew how – flying.

Rather than take one woman’s story, I created Audrey and gave her bits of several women’s lives, changing details here and there. There are a handful of moments inspired by real events, such as Audrey being in the air when the Japanese flew in. WASP Cornelia Fort actually was in the air with an airmen recruit she was training on Oahu when the Japanese fleet flew in. Frightening – and totally story-worthy!

Although there’s been a lot of progress since WWII, women today have a lot to be concerned about. Are there any lessons they can learn from Audrey and her friends in the WASP?

Do what you love no matter what they tell you. These women were balked at. Laughed at. Dismissed as lesser than. How could these tiny little fragile women fly those sometimes mammoth planes? But they did – and many times BETTER than the men. I spoke with a woman whose father was an instructor for the WASP at Avenger Field. She said she’d heard him tell someone once that the women flew better than most of the men he’d trained. And there is the story of high ranking military official asking a few of the women to take up a particularly difficult plane to navigate – to show up his men who didn’t want to fly it. They did so expertly – properly shaming the male pilots and leaving them with nothing more to say on the matter. I loved reading these kinds of stories – and getting to share them, even in their fictionalized form – is exhilarating. Young women especially should know they are not hindered by their gender. Just ask Major General Brigadier Jeannie Leavitts, the USAs first female fight pilot who has seen combat more than once and continues to break that glass ceiling.

In the ARC I read there was mention of your next book, The Lightkeeper. Is that still your next book and can you tell us a little bit about it?

The Lightkeeper. I am in love with this novel and cannot wait to finish it. It is a YA urban fantasy. Here is how I imagine the back cover will read:

To Sam, Lucy is the new girl at school with the kind smile and the prettiest blue eyes he’s ever seen. For the first time in his young life, he’s in love.

To Lucy, Sam is a body. The carrier of the light she’s watched over for the past 17 years. A light that’s about to lose its host.

But every day she’s around him, the emotionless being she is changes a tiny bit, and begins to do something it never has before.

Feel.

Soon Lucy is in love too, and losing site of the job she came to Earth to do.

As Sam’s end grows closer, Lucy must decide if she carries out the job she was sent here for, or defies the laws of the universe.

But is it my next book? Not any longer. It will get finished, but for now it has been set aside to give way to a new historical fiction novel inspired by real life teenage sisters who joined the Dutch Resistance and, among other things, seduced and killed Nazis. I was romanced by this idea after reading an article about the last of the two sisters recently passing away. As one might gather from THE FLIGHT GIRLS, I love a story about strong female protagonists defying the odds. I hope it will be the perfect follow-up book – but truly cannot wait to get back to my little keeper of the light.

Thanks again for sharing your time with myself and my readers. I hope they’ll all grab a copy of The Flight Girls!

Thank you so much for having me and for the insightful and well thought out questions! This was so fun and I hope people love my flying girls as much I do. As well as the gorgeous candles you mixed and poured to perfection! 


You can connect with Noelle online at the following places:

Website: noellesalazar.com

Instagram: authornoelle_salazar

Twitter: @noellesalazar

Facebook: facebook.com/noellesalazar