June 3, 2014

Making Connections

If ever an activity is hands-on, it's working as a journalist or photographer in a war zone. My new book and first title for young adult readers, Reporting Under Fire: 16 Daring Women War Correspondents and Photojournalists, tracks the lives of reporters who went to war long before "embed" became part of the lexicon. There's Peggy Hull, who trekked with Pershing's soldiers along the Mexican border, Irene Corbally Kuhn, the first woman to broadcast out of China, Martha Gellhorn, who was the far better war journalist than her husband Ernest Hemingway, and Martha Raddatz, chief global correspondent for ABC News.

Writing for young readers -- whether middle graders or teens -- challenges them to make connections.  That's what writng history is all about! Learning to research a particular topic -- whether is women war correspondents, national parks, Isaac Newton, or the evolution of hip-hop -- get started on one small detail and it will lead you in any number of directions!

People ask me how I decide on my subjects.  Some are so famous that it's an easy choice.  Others I stumble upon as I read old library books and internet archives -- that's where it's great fun to find an intriguing person and see what I can dig up about him or her. Until we all plugged into the internet, research used to take days and weeks with onsite visits to library basements. .Now it takes seconds.

Just for fun, I'm sending you on a few different research quests via the web -- all little journeys among the lives of  the sixteen women in my book.

Helen (Johns) and Lucien Kirtland
1. To start, read the wedding announcement of a young couple who married in New York City late in 1917: "Bride of L.S. Kirtland"

Why was the happy couple wintering in France? After all, there was a war on! Then take your research forward.  Be careful - there are two guys with the name Lucien Kirtland out there. And be sure to include the Library of Congress in your web search.

Janine di Giovanni
2. Do a web search using keywords "Martha Gellhorn Janine di Giovanni" and discover why Gellhorn became enraged at di Giovanni's article about her. What happened when they met a second time ten years later?
Martha Gellhorn and Ernest Hemingway in China.
3. On the cover of Reporting Under Fire, there's a headshot of a famous photojournalist wearing a leather flight suit. Who was she, and where was she when she put on that outfit in order to take combat photos? And who took that beautiful picture?  Hint...she worked for a publisher named Henry Luce.

Who was she?
To learn more about my writing process and join a blog tour among all kinds of authors who write all types of books for kids and teens, please visit my website, www.kerriehollihan.com and click on "My Blog."


  1. Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.

    Waldorf Press

    1. HI Barbara,

      Would you please get in touch with me? I'd like to know more about your thoughts.