Chanel Cleeton - THE MOST BEAUTIFUL GIRL IN CUBA

Chanel Cleeton - THE MOST BEAUTIFUL GIRL IN CUBA

Chanel and I discuss her latest book The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba, how this is the first time she has written about a real life heroine, the incredible amount of research she conducted for this novel, which book of hers holds a special place in her heart, bringing Cuban stories to life, and much more.


Chanel and I discuss her latest book The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba, how this is the first time she has written about a real life heroine, the incredible amount of research she conducted for this novel, which book of hers holds a special place in her heart, bringing Cuban stories to life, and much more.

Chanel’s recommended reads are:

  1. Island Queen by Vanessa Riley
  2. The Riviera House by Natasha Lester
  3. Sisters in Arms by Kaia Alderson

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If you enjoy reading historical fiction and want to listen to more episodes, try Kate Quinn, Sadeqa Johnson, Patti Callahan, Natalie Jenner, and Stephanie Dray.

The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba can be purchased at the Conversations from a Page Bookshop storefront.      

 

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Transcript

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

Cuba, book, people, life, Cuban, story, cover, fight, most beautiful girl, read, period, loved, William Randolph Hearst, Spanish American war, writing, bit, Chanel, revisit, Spain, authors

SPEAKERS

Cindy Burnett, Chanel Cleeton

 

Cindy Burnett  00:06

This is the Thoughts from a Page Podcast which is now a member of the Evergreen Podcasts Network. My name is Cindy Burnett, and each episode I interview authors about their latest works. One great way for me to reach new people is to win an award. The Quill Podcast Awards were just recently launched, and they are listener-nominated awards. I would be so appreciative if you took three minutes and nominated this podcast in The Society and Culture category. There are a variety of entry categories, but you do not have to complete any of the ones that you don't want to. The link to do so is in my bio, and I really appreciate it. Today I am interviewing Chanel Cleeton about The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba. Originally from Florida, Chanel grew up on stories of her family's exodus from Cuba following the events of the Cuban Revolution. Her passion for politics and history continued during her years spent studying in England, where she earned a bachelor's degree in International Relations from Richmond, the American International University in London, and a Master's Degree in Global Politics from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Chanel also received her Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law. I hope you enjoy our conversation. Welcome Chanel, how are you today?

 

Chanel Cleeton  01:19

I'm doing well. Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.

 

Cindy Burnett  01:22

I'm so excited to have you. I love your books. And I've just learned so much about Cuba by reading them. So I'm really excited to actually be here speaking with you about them.

 

Chanel Cleeton  01:31

Thank you.

 

Cindy Burnett  01:33

Why don't we start out with talking a little bit about The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba? You want to just tell me a little bit about it?

 

Chanel Cleeton  01:38

Sure. So The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba is set during the Gilded Age and kind of at the end of the 19th century. And it is the story of three heroines, one of them is a real life heroine. Her name was Evangelina Cisneros, and she was a young Cuban woman who was involved in the revolutionary movement in Cuba during the fight for independence from Spain. And she became imprisoned in one of the kind of notorious women's prisons in Havana, known as Casa de Recogidas, and her plight came to the attention of the New York newspapers, William Randolph Hearst specifically, and his New York Journal really took on her case. And they kind of used it as a rallying cry to try to get the United States involved in the conflict between Cuba and Spain. So it's really inspired by her story. And then I have two other heroines. One is a journalist who is fictional named Grace Harrington. And she's sort of modeled after a Nellie Bly figure. So she's a woman who's trying to make it in the New York newspaper scene at the time, and she becomes involved in Evangelina's story. And then my other heroine is Marina Perez. And she is from my Perez family. If you've read my earlier historical fiction books. I really enjoyed this opportunity to kind of go back in time and to see the family at an earlier point in history. And so she's in Cuba while the fight for independence is going on. And she actually is sent to one of the reconcentration camps that the Spanish were sending Cuban civilians to at that time period. And she's there with her mother-in-law and with her daughter while her husband is off fighting with the revolutionaries in the countryside, and she becomes a courier, and starts kind of spying and trying to help out the revolutionaries, and do her part to fight for Cuban independence. So the three stories sort of weave together with these women, and all of them living in this kind of revolutionary time.

 

Cindy Burnett  03:24

Where did you get the inspiration for this one?

 

Chanel Cleeton  03:26

So it actually came for me when I was down in the Florida Keys on a research trip for my last book, The Last Train to Key West. I was down there in the summer of 2018. And just kind of for fun, I ended up visiting the San Carlos Institute, which is a Cuban Cultural Heritage Center in Key West. And while I was there, they had a lot of exhibits and information about the Cuban fight for independence from Spain. And then I also visited the USS Maine Memorial. And of course, they were talking about the USS Maine and the Spanish American War. And growing up in a Cuban American household, you know, it was kind of an interesting thing, where I grew up so much on my family stories of Cuba and their memories of the revolution. They came over in 1967, after the revolution, but the one thing I didn't know as much about was kind of more distant Cuban history. So this is a time period in Cuba that my great grandparents would have lived through. But I just wasn't really as familiar with it. And so I was really fascinated by the idea of learning a little bit more about my heritage, and kind of going back in time and understanding these events. And then as I started going through the history and kind of researching the book, that's when I came across Evangelina Cisnero's name. And I was just so fascinated by her story, there were there were so many layers to it. And it was just such a rich story that I knew I wanted to write about her.

 

Cindy Burnett  04:41

So you did the research that you just spoke about when you found the story and kind of began to decide whether you were going to write, about it what was going to happen. What other research did you do?

 

Chanel Cleeton  04:50

I did so much research.

 

Cindy Burnett  04:51

I figured you must have done a ton. That's why I was curious.

 

Chanel Cleeton  04:55

Yes, it was definitely my most researched novel just because really like each of the subjects on their own probably could have been their own full length novel.

 

Cindy Burnett  05:03

Right.

 

Chanel Cleeton  05:03

So between the Gilded Age and the journalism wars between William Randolph Hearst, and Joseph Pulitzer in New York at that time, the fight for independence from Spain and Cuba, and then also the Spanish American War, there was just so much richness of the historical record. There were so many directions, you know, you could go in and I often find myself kind of going down these research rabbit holes. So I probably read, listened to and watched maybe over 100 sources to try to put all of these different pieces together. And it was just really a mix of primary sources, secondary sources. With Evangelina's storyline, there was quite a bit that was written about her. But unfortunately, she's not someone who we have a ton of primary documents from. So there was kind of a limited historical record to work with. And her period of infamy was really kind of a small period of her life. It was about a year that she was quite notorious in the international media at the time. And so really, I used what I would loosely call her autobiography. It was a book that William Randolph Hearst published at the time, about her life, but she was involved with it. And I kind of used that as my guiding principle for her story. I really wanted to follow her life as accurately and faithfully in the way that she would have wanted it to be told, because she was a figure that there was a lot of curiosity about, a lot of speculation, a lot of gossip. And so I really wanted to tell her story the way she wanted it, not the way other people kind of looked at her at the time.

 

Cindy Burnett  06:14

And that's hard to do when you're going back as far as you're going back. And like you said, you want to make sure you're faithful to her retelling versus trying to piece together what other people have said about her.

 

Chanel Cleeton  06:38

Yes, I mean, there were definitely times that I did have to kind of bring in other sources, because there were some gaps in her story. Her autobiography was published at a time when the conflict was still going on. So for example, there's a rescue that that happens in her life. And she actually had to use code names in the little book about her life, because there were still people that could be at risk if she disclosed their real identity, and subsequent academics and people have kind of gone through a piece of the record together. And I was able to put together who she was actually talking about. But it was little things like that, that definitely made the research process a little interesting, I would say.

 

Cindy Burnett  07:13

I would certainly think so. And I would assume it was probably pretty difficult to sort of funnel down what you were going to use. I mean, if you're looking at 100 different sources, and I'm sure you're just coming across tidbit after tidbit that you're like oh, this should go in the book. So many things and so trying to narrow it down. Was that hard?

 

Chanel Cleeton  07:30

So with Evangelina, pretty much everything I had I worked with just because there wasn't that much. Going more into the journalism wars and the fight for independence from Spain - that definitely was, you know, challenging because there were so many angles you could pursue. And that's why I kind of used Evangelina's story as sort of the framework and the the pieces you get of the journalism wars and the pieces that you get of what's going on in Cuba often tie in and relate to her. And that's how the three stories kind of come together.

 

Cindy Burnett  07:59

Well, that makes sense because like you said, she's the framework. So anything related to the journalism portion of the story that's related to her you can tie in, a lot of it was probably very interesting, but not really super relevant to what you were doing.

 

Chanel Cleeton  08:11

Yes. I mean, there was definitely a lot that you could have done for different topics that I tried to kind of stay with that framework.

 

Cindy Burnett  08:19

Does that mean that as you look through all of these things, you already got ideas for future stories? Are you going to kind of leave this alone for now?

 

Chanel Cleeton  08:26

I think for right now, I might have kind of had my moment with the Gilded Age and might do some different time periods. It might be something I revisit in the future. I think for me, I kind of like to keep things fresh and kind of I think the research is such a fascinating part for me, I enjoy learning about this stuff. So I'm always kind of curious about what don't I know, and what period can I can go into to, to learn more about?

 

Cindy Burnett  08:48

So you want to target a different period going forward?

 

Chanel Cleeton  08:51

I think so I mean, my next book is going to be the 30s and 60s, which I've written both those time periods before, so I'm kind of revisiting those again. And then after that, I'm also in the 30s still, so I have kind of my next few books mapped out and we'll see where it takes me after that.

 

Cindy Burnett  09:06

Okay, good. We can talk about those a little bit later in the interview. But I want to ask a little bit more about The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba right now.

 

Chanel Cleeton  09:11

Sure.

 

Cindy Burnett  09:12

So what surprised you the most about writing this book?

 

Chanel Cleeton  09:15

You know, I think I just learned so much. It was really, you know, on the Cuban history, it was very sobering to realize how bad things were in Cuba at the time. I really didn't know about the reconcentration camps and didn't really appreciate just kind of the scope of what they went through during the fight for independence. So that definitely was very illuminating for me. And I think with all of my books, I'm kind of, you know, for my family, the Cuban Revolution was just such a huge impact. And they came to this country as refugees after living under Castro for eight years. And so that was kind of such a seminal moment in my family's history. And I think now that I'm getting to kind of go back in time a little bit more, I'm getting a better appreciation for human history and events that kind of lead up to things, and just kind of looking at it now as sort of a timeline, and how everything kind of influenced each other. So that's been really important to me, and I think really special to me with my heritage. And I think also just learning about some of the kinds of personalities and eccentricities of the Gilded Age from the American perspective. You know, William Randolph Hearst, and Joseph Pulitzer were kind of larger than life figures. You know, we have Hearst chartering his yacht and taking it down to, to where they're fighting in the Spanish American War, with showgirls on the boat, and it was just the sort of thing that, you know, as a fiction writer, I couldn't have made that up.

 

Cindy Burnett  10:39

If you did, people will be like -  there's no way that happened.

 

Chanel Cleeton  10:42

Yes, I mean, I was talking to my editor, and I was like, I'm gonna have to say in the author's note, you know, all of this happened, because it sounds kind of outlandish. But it just really was that that kind of period of excess in a lot of ways and so that was just kind of interesting from, from a writing perspective, to work with the historical narrative like that. And it was also new for me to write about a real-life heroine. This is the first book that I've done that. And so it was just an interesting exercise as an author.

 

Cindy Burnett  11:06

I have read all of your books on Cuba. And I hadn't really thought through that as I was reading this one that she was your first person who was a real-life individual.

 

Chanel Cleeton  11:14

Yes, yes, she was. So that was definitely, you know, in some ways, it was really nice, because you had kind of a map that you could follow. And with her story, you know, I often feel like writing real-life figures, it's difficult to adapt real life to fiction, it just doesn't typically follow kind of that novel format. But with her life, it really actually adapted quite well. And the dramatic points of her life, you know, needed no embellishment. So on the one hand, it was nice to have that sort of guiding principle to go into the book with, but definitely, you know, the challenges I mentioned earlier with just wanting to work with the records you have and be as faithful to it as you can be, but sometimes the limitations of time and what's available.

 

Cindy Burnett  11:55

And I think it frustrates readers a little bit when authors really play with the timetable. I think it's fine if it you know, you've got to shift one or two things, because of the way it's going to work for your novel. But I think when you're talking about adapting a real-life person's life into a novel, if you shift around a ton, and people get to the end, and they're like, oh, none of this really happened, or a lot of it didn't, people get kind of frustrated.

 

Chanel Cleeton  12:16

Yes. And I think as a reader, I have a bit of that, too. So I definitely understand from that perspective. And I think also just because her life was so co-opted by the press, you know, I didn't want to do that in this book. I wanted to try to give her story and let her have her say in her perspective on it.

 

Cindy Burnett  12:34

I think that makes perfect sense. And I was kind of fascinated with the idea of a reconcentration camp. That's what they're called, right?

 

Chanel Cleeton  12:41

Reconcentration camp is the term that they were using. Yes.

 

Cindy Burnett  12:44

So why.

 

Chanel Cleeton  12:45

So basically, what they were doing was they were taking people from the countryside and moving them into cities. And the argument that the Spanish made (obviously this was not what they were doing it)-  they were arguing that it was for people's protection because they were fighting in the country. The reality was they wanted to cut off support for the revolutionaries. And so they really just destroyed the countryside in Cuba. I mean, it was horrific, you know, burning everything, killing animals, seizing animals and gave people eight days to come into the cities. So it's, it's a really, as I mentioned, kind of just sobering and difficult time in human history. And largely the camps were women and children that that were in them. But it was a policy by the Spanish general General Weiler who was in charge of Cuba and was something that I think also really raised a lot of international notice to what was going on in Cuba. I think it definitely galvanized support in the United States when they saw, you know, the conditions that these people were living in with disease and, and, and hunger, and it was truly a way of trying to destroy the world, the people and control the population.

 

Cindy Burnett  13:52

I just think it's such an odd name. And I guess, you know, these happened prior to the concentration camps obviously of World War Two, but then when you have that kind of name in your head, and then you're going reconcentration, it just seems weird, like it would be repatriation or something that would make a little more sense. For some reason I just, that does not clue in for me, as what you would call the camps.

 

Chanel Cleeton  14:11

This is considered to be kind of one of the first modern uses of concentration camps. And so it really is something that they started doing and you know, used it, like I said, to try to control the Cuban population.

 

Cindy Burnett  14:26

That makes sense. I mean, not in a good way, but I can see where if you are trying to cut off the legs of the revolution that, you know, gathering people together and destroying these people who live in the rural countryside, destroying their livelihoods, that is an effective way to do it.

 

Chanel Cleeton  14:41

Well and this was a time to that the Spanish military were kind of seeing the last legs of the Spanish Empire. And so they're very much trying to hold on to Cuba, but they were starting to have issues, you know, paying their troops, keeping they were really having a hard time in Cuba, and so I think it just pushed them more in to do these barbaric and horrific things, because they could kind of feel themselves losing ground with the Cuban revolutionaries.

 

Cindy Burnett  15:07

And I think that's something you see across history, like toward the end of World War Two, again, where the Germans and the Japanese were losing, and all of a sudden, they were slaughtering people, you know. So I do think when people get desperate and frustrated by losing their power, whatever they are, a lot of times will do barbaric things.

 

Chanel Cleeton  15:23

And there was definitely, you know, political infighting in Spain too that I think, was kind of motivating. I didn't really go into that with the book, just because as I said, there were so many, so many areas that I could, could explore. But that was definitely, you know, I think playing a role as well.

 

Cindy Burnett  15:38

Makes sense. Well, I always love to talk about titles and covers. I'm fascinated by how they come about, and whether you have a say in your cover and how it was designed. So can we talk a little bit about your cover and title?

 

Chanel Cleeton  15:50

I'll start with the title. The title came to me pretty much from the beginning - which titles can always be a little bit tricky. But I just really kind of felt like it was the perfect title for the book. And it came from the name that William Randolph Hearst gave to Evangelina Cisneros in the paper, so he decided, let's call her the most beautiful girl in Cuba. And I thought that title just kind of encapsulated so much of kind of the exaggeration and the propaganda of this time period. It really speaks to you know, how much pressure was put on Evangelina. And as she was sort of thrust on the world stage; she was young, you know, when all of this happened. She was 18. And, you know, all of a sudden, her life became something I don't think she ever imagined it would be. And she really had to grapple with that being in such a precarious position, you know, she had to really fight for her survival. And so I think she took the name on in almost a subversive way and kind of used it and knew that she was, to some extent playing a role, but that it was a role she had to play. And she also used her platform and the opportunity. She had to raise awareness for the Cuban fight for independence, because that was truly really important to her and something that's always at the forefront of her speeches when she was touring the US and meeting with groups and talking about what was going on in Cuba. So I thought it just kind of fit the spirit of the book, and kind of seemed like the right fit for this one. So I was really happy to come across with that. And then the cover, you know, I can't take any credit for Berkley has an amazing art department. And they just did a phenomenal job on this one. But I really loved it, it for me just really captured the spirit of the book, as I think all of my covers have. They always do such a phenomenal job. And I'm just so grateful to them for for all the beautiful, beautiful covers, they give me.

 

Cindy Burnett  17:37

They do do a phenomenal job. And I always think your covers really stand out. That's why I first picked up Next Year in Havana because of the cover. I just loved it. And I just think they really do an outstanding job. I was just curious if you ever have any modifications or thoughts like maybe this color should be different, or, you know, could this person face this way? I just didn't know if you had any input? Or if you just they come to you and you're like, these look great.

 

Chanel Cleeton  17:59

You know, they're really generous that they definitely always ask my input. And I think we've probably done some little tweaks here and there with different covers. But a lot of them we haven't I mean, the Havana, they sent it over and I cried and was just like, this is absolutely, you know, I couldn't have asked for envisioned anything better for the cover. And this one we played with the light treatment and the color treatment a little bit. But you know, all of the things they had were really stunning with it. And often it's just different departments getting involved and kind of giving opinions on what works and giving that insight. I will admit I'm not super artistic. So I always kind of try to inelegantly describe what I've been thinking of or what I'm looking at. But surely, it's just their talent that that really comes through, and they create these beautiful, beautiful covers.

 

Cindy Burnett  18:46

I laugh that you say that because I'm not artistic either. So I always look at it like I know what I don't like. So when I'm looking for a new graphic for like the podcast, or you know, when I'm working on any of that type of stuff. I'm like, well, these are the things I don't want.

 

Chanel Cleeton  18:58

Yeah.

 

Cindy Burnett  18:59

And I'm like, it's hard to sometimes describe what I do want. So I'm like bold, bright, you know, and they're like, I might need a little more guidance than that. I'm like, Okay, well, not this and not that. I'll know it when I see it. It's hard, you know,

 

Chanel Cleeton  19:12

It is

 

Cindy Burnett  19:13

You kind of have something in mind, but you don't really know that you have it in mind.

 

Chanel Cleeton  19:17

Yes, I think that's definitely true. And it's such a specific skill set. And there's so many factors that go into, you know, the cover. I just - I'm very grateful. I think they do gorgeous covers across the board. So it's always fun to see what they come up with for all their different books.

 

Cindy Burnett  19:31

I agree. I think Berkley usually hits it out of the park. Their covers are fabulous. But it is amazing to me, and that was something I wasn't as familiar with until I started doing this podcast was truly how many different factors factor into the cover. Some of its advertising, some of its marketing, some of its the big sellers. It's interesting to see how wide a range of things go into trying to decide what a cover is going to look like.

 

Chanel Cleeton  19:56

I was the same way. You know as a reader, I knew what I loved  - kind of what you were saying that I don't think I really appreciated, you know, all the things that you're kind of balancing and, and that's why now I'm always happy to kind of defer to, to what they think because I feel like there's so many people who are well versed in this and know what, what readers want and what's doing well so.

 

Cindy Burnett  20:15

No, that's very true. Do you have a favorite of the books you've written?

 

Chanel Cleeton  20:18

Oh, that's a great question. You know, I think Next Year in Havana will always just be really special to me, because it was a really personal book for me. That's probably the one that's kind of the closest to, you know, me writing about my Cuban identity and kind of my family's experiences. I mean, it's a, it's a fictionalized family. But I definitely put a lot of, you know, a little family stories and personal emotion into that and kind of identity questions that I think I was kind of grappling with at the time that I was writing the book. So I think that one just is always really special. I'm really proud of The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba. I definitely feel like it's the book I probably put, put a great deal of time and research. And it was, in a way kind of, I think, my most ambitious book. And so I think for that it was definitely kind of a really special book for me, just because I'm really proud of how it's turned out.

 

Cindy Burnett  21:03

Well, I loved Next Year in Havana. I mean, I love all of them, but I really loved it. And maybe it is because you, you know, it was your family story. But I felt like it just illuminated something I didn't know much about at all, like the Cuban exile population in Miami versus the Cubans that stayed in Havana and how, because everybody from that period on when the exiles left and everybody else stayed, there's sort of two different tracks. And so trying to reconcile the difference in the two, I just thought it was very interesting.

 

Chanel Cleeton  21:31

Well, thank you. Thank you.

 

Cindy Burnett  21:33

Well, what about what you're working on next?

 

Chanel Cleeton  21:35

So I just turned in my next book to my editor. And as I mentioned before, it is dual timeline, 1930s and 1960s. And we're going to revisit the Perez sisters. So I've had a lot of readers asking if I would tell the other sisters' stories. But I was kind of waiting for the right moment where it felt like the right time in history, and the right place to put the characters and I sort of found it for Isabel. So it's going to be her story. She's the 60s storyline. And it starts where When We Left Cuba left off, so we kind of pick up with the family there and the events after When We Left Cuba. And then the 30s storyline is two new heroines who are related to Marina Perez, who we meet in The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba. So they're ancestors of hers, so we're kind of going to introduce this new branch of the family. And you'll see some old, old favorites, like, Mirta is going to be back from The Last Train to Key West and Beatriz and Elisa. So it really was kind of like writing a family reunion for me. So I really enjoyed getting to kind of revisit those characters. And it's set in Spain, Cuba and South Florida.

 

Cindy Burnett  22:40

Oh, that sounds really good. I look forward to that. It's interesting when you look up your books, and you see all the different comments that people have. Some people are like, oh, this is the third book in the trilogy. And other people are like they're standalones. And some people are like, they're all connected. And I suppose in a way that they're all right.

 

Chanel Cleeton  22:56

Yes, no, I think, I think you can read them in order if you want, or you can definitely read them as standalones, particularly with my last two because they're set before the first two, you know, you can definitely read out of order there. Because you're going back into back in time.

 

Cindy Burnett  23:10

It's fun when authors weave in those characters, though, throughout their various stories. So you're like, oh, I remember that person from an earlier book. You know, it's sort of fun to see them again.

 

Chanel Cleeton  23:19

Yes, one. And for writers, it's nice because it's hard to you know, when you say goodbye, we live with these characters in our head for so long. And then when you have to, you know, say goodbye to them, you kind of go through a little period of mourning and missing them. And so for me, it's nice to kind of be able to pick them up every once in a while and see how they're doing and where they are on their lives. And revisit them.

 

Cindy Burnett  23:39

Say welcome back.

 

Chanel Cleeton  23:40

Yes.

 

Cindy Burnett  23:41

Well, before we wrap up, I would love to hear what you've read recently that you really liked.

 

Chanel Cleeton  23:44

I have to say I have been in a really great historical fiction reading mode. I've been reading quite a few arcs, and have had some amazing book experiences. So I will say I really loved Vanessa Riley's upcoming Island Queen. I read an arc of that, and it's phenomenal. It's about Dorothy Kirwin Thomas. And she just led an extraordinary life. And Vanessa has just created this, this beautiful story about her life. So I really recommend that one.

 

Cindy Burnett  23:45

I can't wait to get to that. It looks so good.

 

Chanel Cleeton  23:55

And speaking of covers - I love that cover. So I think just everything about it - it's such a beautiful book.

 

Cindy Burnett  24:19

I was just gonna say that talking about covers. It's a stunning cover.

 

Chanel Cleeton  24:23

Yes, yes, it really is. I highly recommend that one.

 

Cindy Burnett  24:26

Good.

 

Chanel Cleeton  24:27

I read Natasha Lester's The Riviera House which is phenomenal. That one's out I believe in August or September, but it's set in World War Two and really loved that one. And then also Kaia Alderson's Sisters in Arms, which is coming out this summer as well. It's another World War Two, the six triple eight women's Postal Battalion, and it's phenomenal. So those three were really wonderful.

 

Cindy Burnett  24:47

They just contacted me about that one, in fact about four days before I was writing the She Reads Most Anticipated Historical Fiction of Summer, which yours and Kaia's are on so I was glad because that looks really good. I cannot wait to read it.

 

Chanel Cleeton  24:52

It's amazing. We have the same agent. So I was really lucky that I got to read an arc. And it's phenomenal. I really think everyone's gonna love that one.

 

Cindy Burnett  25:08

You know, it's funny to me because I think some people say, okay, we've read enough World War Two. I will never ever read enough World War Two. I mean, I could just read book after book that takes place then because you know, the war went for so long. So many countries are involved. There are a lot of stories, but I feel like there are a ton of World War Two books coming out this summer and even into the fall. So it's just kind of interesting how those things cycle a little bit.

 

Chanel Cleeton  25:32

Well I think we're getting different perspectives of World War Two, which is so nice, you know, Kaia's book is about the first all black, all female battalion that was deployed overseas during World War Two. And um, that's something I had not read historical fiction about. So it was a really great perspective. And like Natasha Lester's is about art theft, and, and kind of preserving the art in the Louvre during World War Two and the Nazi occupation of Paris. So I thought, you know, that was once again, something I hadn't really read too much about. So it's nice to kind of get those new perspectives on events that maybe we've, we've learned about, but it's a different take.

 

Cindy Burnett  26:05

Well, absolutely. And I just think because the war did go for so long, and so many different groups and people and countries participated, I mean, there's going to be so many fascinating stories, so I'm looking forward to those. Well, Chanel, thank you so much for joining me on the Thoughts from a Page Podcast today.

 

Chanel Cleeton  26:21

Thank you so much for having me. This is wonderful.

 

Cindy Burnett  26:25

Thank you so much for listening to my podcast. If you like this episode, and I hope you did, please follow me on Instagram at @thoughtsfromapage, enter my podcast in the Society and Culture category of the Quill Podcasts Awards, and rate it or subscribe to it wherever you listen to your podcasts. I would really appreciate it. Chanel's book can be purchased at the Conversations from a Page Bookshop storefront, and the link is in my show notes. I hope you'll tune in next time.