Gwen C. Katz Discusses the Incredible Airwomen Who Inspired Among the Red Stars

Night Witches

I recently read Gwen C. Katz’s debut novel Among the Red Stars, and I was just so captivated by it. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It’s YA historical fiction inspired by the real airwomen of Soviet Union Aviation Group 122, also known as the Night Witches by the Nazis. Though the main characters in this story are fictional, the majority of the characters are real women who actually flew during WWII, and I was absolutely fascinated by them.

I am so excited to have Gwen here on the blog today to share some information about these inspirational women as well as some fantastic photographs of Aviation Group 122!

About the Night Witches

Zhenya Rudneva

Zhenya Rudneva

In 1941, as the Soviet Union fought a desperate battle against the Nazi invasion, famed Soviet airwoman Marina Raskova went to Moscow with a proposal: An all-women’s aviation group. Hundreds of girls, mostly ages 18 to 21, tried out for this air group, Aviation Group 122, in the hopes of getting a chance to serve their country. Aviation Group 122 eventually split into three regiments: A fighter regiment, a day bomber regiment, and a night bomber regiment. The former two flew advanced, high-tech aircraft, but they were quickly forgotten after the war. The night bomber regiment, the 46th Guards, were given fragile, flammable wood and canvas biplanes no faster than cars, yet they are the airwomen who would become famous.

Over the course of the war, the 46th Guards flew over 23,000 missions to bomb the enemy forces, becoming one of the most highly decorated regiments in the Red Army Air Force in the process. Their favorite trick was to cut their engines and glide over the target, making no sound except the whistling of the wind though the wires, a sound which reminded the Nazis of witches’ brooms and earned them the nickname “Night Witches.” More than 70 years later, the Night Witches remain a powerful reminder of what women are capable of achieving.

Bond of sisters

Dina Nikulina, Zhenya Rudneva, Natalya Meklin, and Ira Sebrova.


Among the Red Stars Tours an Air Force Base

I loved this book so much, I took Among the Red Stars on a tour of my local air force base. Here are some pictures from our day out.


About the Book

Cover.jpgWorld War Two has shattered Valka’s homeland of Russia, and Valka is determined to help the effort. She knows her skills as a pilot rival the best of the men, so when an all-female aviation group forms, Valka is the first to sign up.

Flying has always meant freedom and exhilaration for Valka, but dropping bombs on German soldiers from a fragile canvas biplane is no joyride. The war is taking its toll on everyone, including the boy Valka grew up with, who is fighting for his life on the front lines.

As the war intensifies and those around her fall, Valka must decide how much she is willing to risk to defend the skies she once called home.

Inspired by the true story of the airwomen the Nazis called Night Witches, Gwen C. Katz weaves a tale of strength and sacrifice, learning to fight for yourself, and the perils of a world at war.

The Details

  • Title: Among the Red Stars
  • Author: Gwen C. Katz
  • Publisher: HarperTeen
  • Pub Date: October 3, 2017

About the Author


Gwen C. Katz is a writer, artist, game designer, and retired mad scientist easily identified by her crew cut and ability to cause trouble. Originally from Seattle, she now lives in Altadena, CA with her husband and a revolving door of transient mammals. She is represented by Thao Le of Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

Find Gwen online: Website | Twitter | FacebookFacebook | Goodreads

Will you be reading  Among the Red Stars when it hits bookshelves near you in October? What are some of your favorite historical fiction novels? What are some of your favorite novels inspired by real women?


12 thoughts on “Gwen C. Katz Discusses the Incredible Airwomen Who Inspired Among the Red Stars

  1. Book Princess Review (@_bookprincess_) says:

    I loved your photo shoot. It was wonderful. I totally got super excited when I first heard about this book, but it somehow got thrown into the middle of my TBR pile and then it was never heard from again (that middle part is meannnnn). After recently going through it again, I re-found this book, and I literally canNOT wait to read this. It sounds so amazing and your rec means even more excitement. *is now waiting in mostly excited anticipation*

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