Author Interview: Lita Tomas and Jean Marie McNamara

Lucy Faulds, a NetGalley reviewer, lauds Master Wings’ newest release, Lita & Jean: Memoirs of Two Generations of Military Women by Lita Tomas and Jean Marie McNamara, as the “raw, heart-felt voices of two strong inspirational women.”

Covering the entire span of their life, the authors of this memoir pull no punches to speak on the abuses of the military, family, the Catholic Church and more. Their goal is to set the record straight and provide a valuable reference on military service and treatment and offer inspiration and lessons of resilience.

Learn more about Lita & Jean and why this should be the next book on your list in our interview with them below:

What do you love most about your book?

Jean: Writing this book allowed my mother and me a chance to deepen our relationship and understand one another more.

Lita:  The memoir and writing process inspired me to research our family tree and learn more about my ancestors’ military service.

What did you learn when writing the book? Did anything surprise you?

Lita:  I think we were both surprised to learn how similar our experiences were despite the twenty-year time difference.

Jean: Throughout this process, I’ve learned how important it is to ask questions and learn as much as possible about one’s family history from living relatives. One of the remarkable things I discovered was that one of our great aunts made bathtub gin during prohibition.

There are times when your text on various personal interactions is vivid and detailed – how true to life are these accounts?

Jean:  We made a concerted effort to accurately portray every aspect of our lives. In addition to reviewing old photographs, revisiting military bases, and rereading the mountain of correspondence we’ve amassed over the years, we also contacted and reminisced with former military colleagues.

What was it like to write about the heavier topics in your memoirs? Did you rely on any forms of support or comfort to make it through?

Lita:  It was rough! My ulcers have ulcers!

Jean: Reliving the most painful experiences and rereading the memorandums I wrote to my command, asking for help and support, was difficult. Digging up our terrible memories regarding emotional and physical trauma and then attempting to describe it clearly – sharing our pain with the reader – was an intense roller coaster. I started to have terrible nightmares and had difficulty distracting myself from the physical and emotional pain. But I want to help others, so I persevered. I am grateful to have the ongoing help and support of a counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, as well as my friends and family.

If you could tell your teenage self something, what would it be?

Jean: Don’t worry, it’ll all turn out.

What are you currently reading or watching that you would recommend?

Lita: Recently, I started rewatching Grey’s Anatomy.

Jean:  My interests vary and I’m reading something new every day!  Check out our Instagram feed (@tank.hill) and our Pinterest page (@tomasmcnamara0033) for my latest recommendations!

Who would you like to see read your book?

Lita:  New recruits.

Jean: It would be amazing to see women, mothers and daughters, veterans, those curious about life in the military and those interested in military history reading our memoir. I have a lovely dream that I’ll stumble across someone reading it in the wild: at a coffee shop, on the train, or at the park.

What do you hope readers will take away from Lita & Jean?

Lita: The need to advocate for yourself!

Jean:  Don’t “give up” on individuals with a chronic illness! Keep inviting them to events and, when possible, modify plans, so they are inclusive. Check in with those who are depressed, and if you are depressed, please get help.

Lita & Jean’s memoir will be released on March 29. Pre-order your copy on our website today!

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