“I sort of think of my characters as employees”: A Q&A with ‘Front Lines’ author Michael Grant

‘Front Lines’ is the first book Michael Grant’s new ‘Soldier Girl’ series. Set in an alternative WWII where girls are called up to fight alongside the boys, we are already itching to get our hands on the next book.


We had the pleasure of asking this much-beloved author some questions, and here’s how it all went down…

Describe the plot of ‘Front Lines’ the length of a tweet. A court decision sends women and girls to fight in WW2 alongside men.  We follow them from training to combat.

You mention the ‘magnificent Kurdish women soldiers of Kobani’ in the dedications. Did they form some of your inspiration for ‘Front Lines’, and can you tell us a bit more about the inspirations for this book? Of course I was incredibly impressed by the Kurdish women and men who fought ISIS to a stand-still at Kobani..  It took great courage and great endurance and their victory (with some help from the US Air Force)  was magnificent.  The women of Kobani call to mind their spiritual sisters from WW2, the Soviet women who fought at places like Leningrad and Stalingrad, the Jewish women who were a vital part of the Warsaw ghetto uprising, women who served in resistance movements in Poland, France, Ukraine, the Netherlands and many other countries.

How heavy going has the research been for this series? The bibliography at the end is HUGE! I actually enjoy the research. I’ve been listening to two Antony Beevor audiobooks while I drive and I keep having to pull over to make notes. And it’s not all books.  Just yesterday I went to Las Vegas to fire the M1 Garand and the Thompson submachine gun.  I wanted to know the sound and feel and how long it takes to re-sight after you shoot.  And this summer I’ll be in Europe to spend some time in Oradour-sur-Glane, Normandy, the Ardennes and Buchenwald.

Front Lines has as much grit and darkness as your other books, but this series does feel like it’s something very different from previous titles, would you agree? It’s very different but my approach to the darker elements, the violence in particular, is the same.  I don’t really approve of or enjoy comic book violence, kabuki violence.  Violence should have consequences.  Readers should understand that it’s not fun, it’s terrible.  So I present it as realistically as I can.  I’ve tried to do the same with the various forms of bigotry that my characters encounter.  If we’re doing history, let’s do history, not some sanitized fairy tale.

You spoil us with so many compelling main characters. Do you have a favourite out of Rio, Rainy, Frangie and Jenou? Nah, I love ‘em all.  I sort of think of my characters as employees.  They’re people I hire.  So long as they show up on time and do their jobs, I like them.

Will we find out who the nameless narrator is at some point? Or will they remain ‘nameless’? You will definitely know. . . in the final book.

What can we expect from the next book? Book Two is called ‘Silver Stars’.  We follow Rio, Frangie, Rainy and Jenou from North Africa to Sicily, then to Italy.  That’s two amphibious landings and some very heavy combat.  If North Africa was the first place where my characters were ‘blooded,’ we now see them as increasingly professional, capable soldiers.  Plus we meet some mafia members, participate in the rescue of a downed bomber, take a ride in a Royal Navy submarine, and learn a shattering secret about Frangie’s family.

Finally, because we all want to know where the magic happens, send us a picture of where you write.

front lines michael grant

We’d like to say a big thank you to Michael for answering all our questions! Have any thoughts on Michael’s amazing Q&A? Tweet us @maximumpopbooks

And don’t forget, you can still get your copy of ‘Front Lines’, just click here, Soldier!

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Written by Sarah Clare

Sarah is the Lead Writer and Design Queen here at Maximum Pop! Sarah holds an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University, and a BA in Creative Writing with English Literature from Marjon (BIG UP THE MARJON MASSIVE!). Sarah joined MP! after seeing an advertisement for writers on Instagram – because where else would a design master find their dream job?

Sarah is currently working on an expose on Draco Malfoy in her spare time. But not if his father hears about it.

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