July 25, 2021

True to her roots

Newton native writes youth historical fiction set in town

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A drive down First Avenue, the Capitol II Theatre, H.A. Lynn Stadium and Newton High School are all depicted in Liz Costanzo-Morrison’s new youth historical fiction novel “Flashback.”

Costanzo-Morrison, a current resident of St. Louis, Mo., is a 1980 Newton High School graduate, history teacher for the Parkway School District in St. Louis and a new author. Costanzo-Morrison started her first book about World War I, “Soulmates” in 2013, and it was released in 2015.

“I always wanted to write books, and I’ve been trying to write a book since the 1980s,” Costanzo-Morrison said. “So I finally decided that I should write a book. I am a history nerd, I love teaching history and want other people to love history, but I know that being in a history classroom isn’t always the most exciting way to learn.”

A graduate of University of Iowa with a degree in education and history, Costanzo-Morrison said she got her passion for history from her high school history teacher, Mr. Chadwick. Her second book “Second Chance” tells a story of World War II.

“I wanted to write about the Holocaust, which was such an important part of history that I felt passionate about,” Costanzo-Morrison said. “What’s so intriguing is that I pulled out history from the holocaust that people don’t really know about, so it’s different.”

A unique aspect to her books is the contemporary element of reincarnation. Characters from the present find themselves with memories of people from the past, and throughout the stories, solve the mysteries of the past. Costanzo-Morrison’s newest book “Flashback” tells a story of the Vietnam War with ties to her hometown, Newton.

“My whole goal as I was writing, I said to myself ‘if people read my books, I want to write about Newton,’” she said. “So it will be like other popular books where when people read it they will actually want to come to Newton to see all the places.”

The book features classic Newton sites, like the football field, high school, cemetery, Maid-Rite restaurant, the Hotel Maytag and others, while also telling the story of Operation Firebase Ripcord, a Vietnam War battle with a large casualty that was never featured in the news.

“The lives of the characters in my book intertwine with real people of that time,” Costanzo-Morrison said. “I loved it here in Newton, and I loved growing up here, so I really thought it would be cool to write a book that would make people come here. A lot of it is just about small towns, and giving good impressions of living in a small town. I hope people learn about the Vietnam War, but I also hope people from Newton feel like it does a service to this town. ”

Costanzo-Morrison dedicated “Flashback” to veterans of the Vietnam War, specifically troops that fought at Firebase Ripcord. Flashback is available Aug. 28, and is published by Fireborn Publishing Co.

Costanzo-Morrison said she never considered writing as just a hobby, but once she finally got to write a book, it became a passion. She was voted as a Top 5 New Author by Serendipity Press after her first book was published.

“The biggest challenge was learning the publishing process, and just getting published,” she said. “Now I have deadlines, and I’m freaking out because I’ve never had a deadline, I just write. It’s just as fun, but more stressful.”

Her next book will be about 9/11, and a story connected to “Children of the Fallen Fathers” of the attack on September 11, 2011. As a flight attendant in the 1990s, Costanzo-Morrison took some troops to their first deployment in Iraq.

“Doing that really changed me as a person, and made me a patriot,” she said. “I remember Vietnam as a child, and we shouldn’t forget just like 9/11 shouldn’t be forgotten. I want people to know why we went into Iraq, not just have moment of silence every year, but make it remembered.”

Costanzo-Morrison will be dedicating her next book to those who died in the attacks on 9/11.

“Once I started writing, and doing something I love, it’s so hard to go back,” she said. “My biggest hope is just that people read my books.”

Contact Savannah Eadens at newsroom@newtondailynews.com