The little-known chapters of history are what compels Kristina McMorris for writing.
For his New York Times bestseller “Sold on a Monday“, it was a Depression-era photo of two children for sale on the porch of a farmhouse.
In “The Edge of Lost”, it was a documentary about children who had grown up on the island of Alcatraz.
McMorris’ last novel, “The ways we hide“, released on September 6, was inspired by two nuggets of history: the Italian catastrophe of 1913, in which 73 men, women and children – mostly miners and their families – were crushed to death during of a stampede in Michigan’s copper country on Christmas Eve.
“It’s a story I stumbled across online and was amazed I had never heard of before,” McMorris said in a recent interview with the Greenville Journal.
She had also come across an article about how game boards like Monopoly were used during World War II to smuggle compasses, maps and other instruments to help Allied POWs escape. .
“When I put them together, I suddenly realized that this could be an entire book, that if my character had survived the tragedy at Italian Hall, she would become obsessed with escapism,” McMorris said.
In “The Ways We Hide”, Fenna Vos is a female illusionist who is the mastermind behind a traveling escapist act. His unique skills end up attracting MI9, a top-secret branch of British intelligence responsible for aiding escape and escape.
“They were what I call the World War II go-go gimmick squad,” McMorris says.
Tasked with designing evacuation aids to thwart the Germans, MI9 is looking for people with specialist skills for a war that is nearing breaking point. Fenna reluctantly joins the unconventional team as an inventor, but is drawn much deeper into the war than she ever imagined.
“The fact that MI9 actually worked with magicians and illusionists is also such an amazing story,” McMorris says. “That’s why I like to write historical fiction, so that I can shed light on very often lesser-known historical facts.”
“The Ways We Hide” is McMorris’ sixth novel. A seventh, “When We Had Wings,” which she co-wrote with authors Ariel Lawhon (“Code Name Helene”) and Susan Meissner (“Secrets of a Charmed Life”), is out next month.