Guest Post with Kathleen Shoop, author of After the Fog & Giveaway (US only)

Good day everyone!  Please help me to welcome Kathleen Shoop, author of After the Fog, to the blog today!   I had hoped to have my review for you today and Kathleen’s post tomorrow but due to a really sore shoulder I’ve had to move things around so for that I apologize but the review should be up tomorrow for sure!  This is a great novel full of history and family and I am really enjoying it. I haven’t had a chance to read Kathleen’s first novel The Last Letter but so many of my blogger pals have loved it so I know that I will too.  It’s certainly on my list to read especially after reading After the Fog.  Kathleen joins us today to talk about her love of history, research and fiction…


It’s such an honor to be here at Peeking Between the Pages, thank you!

In thinking about the books I write, research and family stories always come to mind. For writers the way family history fits into writing historical fiction can be tricky. First of all, unless you’re a Kennedy or a Kardashian, writing the true, exact details of your life are probably pretty boring. Frankly, even the rich and famous admit the nuts and bolts of their existence are less than gripping. Well, most of us will never know if that’s true, but for the most part, it’s safe to say, writing fiction—even with the help of family letters, documents and lore—should involve more than the “truth.”

For example, when I wrote The Last Letter I had the benefit of more than 50 family letters to inform my story. In fact, the letters that inspired my novel are so full of beautiful turns of phrase and intricate detail, that I published them as a companion piece for people who love primary historical sources. But, in writing the novel, I knew the story needed more than what was in the letters. I needed to tell the story that wasn’t in them. The detail—the way my great-great grandmother helped lathe a house, how they used oil to soothe frozen body parts, and what she read—would make it into my novel, but only as it pertained to the larger plot.

In After the Fog, I have a 1948 industrial disaster that changed the way the world viewed the environment and public health. I didn’t have family letters, but I had eyewitness accounts, even interviews with people who were in Donora, PA when the killing smog descended on the town. I had my grandmother and relatives who lived in steel towns. I had the rhythm of their language, the first-hand insight into how their lives were shaped by the mills in the same way the steel itself was.

Also, I had the gritty details which were paramount in recreating the life and times of post-war America: Using putty to pull soot off of walls; constant sweeping of porches; dusting of every surface that held filth; and the way men needed a white shirt to get to work and a second shirt once they arrived to replace the first, blackened one—the pride they felt in owning these material goods in the first place.

But, the details alone, the ones in family letters or the minds of those who lived through the “five days of fog” are not enough to sustain a fictional story. I needed to be immersed in the research so that the characters would enter the stage bearing the hallmarks of the time and setting, through the way they talked, moved, and used the objects around them.

Keeping that in mind and knowing it’s important that the characters and their lives reflect the time in which 0the story takes place, I am careful not to clutter the book with clichés or stereotypes. The characters might have the window-dressing associated with stereotypes, but hopefully I manage to create characters that step past what we all think we know about a particular time. That to me, helps make a narrative compelling.

I am fortunate to love history, the research and also to adore fiction. In combining the two, I hope I bridge the gap between necessary detail and riveting storytelling. My hope is that readers find themselves lost in the past.


About After the Fog

Rose Pavlesic is a straight-talking, gifted nurse who is also controlling and demanding. She has to be to ensure her life is mistake-free and to create a life for her children that reflects everything she missed as an orphaned child. Rose has managed to keep her painful secrets buried in her past, away from her loving husband—who she discovers has secrets of his own—their dutiful children and their large extended, complicated family.

But, as a stagnant weather cycle works to trap poisonous gasses from the three mills in town, Rose’s nursing career thrusts her into a conflict of interest she never could have fathomed—putting the lives of her loved ones at risk. As the fog thickens, Rose’s neighbors are dying; thousands of people in the community are becoming increasingly ill. Rose is faced with decisions that can destroy her carefully constructed House of Pavlesic and reveal its true character.

Buy After the Fog at:,, Kindle (great price of $2.99)


About Kathleen Shoop

After the Fog is the second novel by bestselling Kindle author Kathleen Shoop. Her debut novel, The Last Letter, garnered multiple awards in 2011.

A Language Arts Coach with a Ph.D. in Reading Education, Kathleen lives in Oakmont, Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.

Kathleen’s website
Kathleen’s blog
Find Kathleen on Facebook
Follow Kathleen on Twitter



I have one copy of After the Fog by Kathleen Shoop to share with my readers.  To enter…

  • For 1 entry simply leave me a comment entering the giveaway.
  • For 2 entries, follow my blog.  If you already do, thank you, and please let me know in your comment so I can pass the extra entry on to you as well.
  • For 3 entries, blog or tweet this giveaway and spread the word.

This giveaway is open to US residents only (no PO boxes) and I will draw for the winner on Saturday, June 9/12.  Good luck!


  1. Linda B says

    This book sounds so interesting. I’d never heard of the Donora fog disaster. Would love to read this book. Thanks for the giveaway.

    Google follower.

  2. says

    Thanks for the post and giveaway! I’m always looking for good historical fiction about more obscure – but still important and fascinating – events in history.

    GFC follower

    bookwormsusanna AT gmail DOT com

  3. says

    Terrific guest post! Please enter me in this great book giveaway. I’ll post it in my blog’s sidebar. This book sounds really interesting, and I’d love to read it.


    Thanks for hosting this, Darlene!

  4. Ellie says

    What a wonderful novel which sounds captivating. thanks for this chance. I am an e-mail subscriber.

  5. Margie says

    This sounds interesting, particularly since it is based on an actual industrial disaster.
    Thanks for the giveaway.

    -follow by email, GFC, and Networked Blogs

  6. Karen B says

    My mother taught in Donora and my father worked in the steel mills there in the late 30s so this is of immense interest to me!

  7. says

    What an amazing post today! I love that the author used old family letters to flesh out her plot, and that the story is not centered around them, but they inform the tale and create rich drama and atmosphere. I would love the chance to read this one, Dar, so please do enter me in your giveaway. The book sounds riveting!

  8. rhonda says

    another interesting giveaway email subscriber fb follower twitter follower a Rhonda reads will tweet .

  9. mamabunny13 says

    I’ve never heard of the Donora fog diaster. Sounds like an interesting story.
    mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

  10. Carol Wong says

    I have never heard of this smog diaster before. I am very interested in it. I have asthma and remember needing to stay indoors when the skies were yellow with smog. The TV warned about going outside. It must have been terriying for the people living there.

    I also have sarcoidosis and many of the first responders to the 911 tragedy now have it. I wonder if the people in this horrible event ended up with it too.

    The part about the white shirts remind me of what it was like in the coal mines in the past and I makes me think the terrible damage to the lungs of the people in that area.

    I am really interested in reading this book.


  11. Rachel A. says

    I’m always looking for new historical fiction titles. This sounds good. It seems like a nice complement to “The Last Town on Earth” by Thomas Mullen.

  12. Linda Kish says

    That’s from a bit before my time but as a nurse I understand the medical ramifications of it. It sounds really interesting.

    lkish77123 at gmail dot com

  13. says

    I like that real letters helped inspire the story and that her imagination just kept the story going. Thanks for the giveaway.

    I follow as you know.

  14. nan says

    This is not your run of the mill story. I’m very interested. Thanks for the giveaway.

    I’m a follower.

  15. Diane B. says

    I read about this book on a couple other blogs and it sounds extermely interesting to me. My grandparents families are from that area so I’ve been told several different stories of tragedies in the mills and mines. I’m so happy that Ms Shoop wrote this story for us. Thanks for the giveaway of what sounds like an awesome book. I’m a follower and here’s the link for the tweet.

  16. says

    Thanks for an interesting guest post and giveaway. This is a bit of history I was unaware of and I’m sure it will be a fantastic read.

    I’m a follower and I posted the giveaway on my blog.

  17. Carol M says

    I’ve lived in Pittsburgh all my life and I know a lot about the history of the steel mills. I would love to read this book!

    mittens0831 at aol dot com

  18. Carla says

    Thanks for the great post and giveaway!
    I love the way Ms Shoop describes how she used her research of the daily gritty details and worked them into the story. The small details are what I really like in historical fiction, to know how people lived their lives. Like she said, how they had to fight to keep clean.

    Please enter me!
    And I follow you email.

    cjay (at) iavalley (dot) edu


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