What would you like to tell readers about yourself?
* I have been in love with the past for as long as I can remember. Anything with a history, whether shabby or majestic, recent or ancient, instantly draws me in. I suppose it comes from being part of a large extended family that spanned several generations. Long summer afternoons on my grandmother's porch or winter evenings gathered around her fireplace were filled with stories both entertaining and poignant. Of course being set in the American South, those stories were also peopled by some very interesting characters, some of whom have found their way into my work.
* As for my venture in writing, it has allowed me to reinvent myself. We humans are truly multifaceted creatures, but unfortunately we tend to sort and categorize each other into neat, easily understood packages that rarely reveal the whole person. Perhaps you, too, want to step out of the box in which you find yourself. I encourage you to look at the possibilities and imagine. Be filled with childlike wonder in your mental wanderings. Envision what might be, not simply what is. Let us never forget, all good fiction begins when someone says to her or himself, "Let's pretend."
* I reside in the Houston area with one sweet husband and one adorable German Shorthaired Pointer who is quite certain she’s a little girl.
* "History is filled with the sound of silken slippers going downstairs and wooden shoes coming up." Voltaire
Today Linda Bennett Pennell will be talking about how she became a writer and what inspired her in regard to the story she's promoting.
* I have always been a writer in some form or another, that is, after I got over my initial fear of the language arts. Every mistake that can be made with a child's early education was made with mine, but that is a story for another time. My path to becoming an author began when I was a senior in high school. I had a wonderful teacher who taught creative writing as one of the multiple semester long language arts offerings for seniors. She also taught the research paper writing course. In her classes, I finally discovered the joy of writing. Thank you, Miss Miller, wherever you are! College, an advanced degree, several certifications, and work all put paid to the creative side of my writing until I retired. At this point, I have come full circle. Writing and the act of creation give me great pleasure and I hope to write novels for many years to come.
* I hold a B.A. in US and English history, so it should come as no surprise that I have always been interested in World War II. When I originally started work on what is now Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn, it was entitled Wings and was set in Hialeah, Florida. It was to feature a ninety-day-wonder, as WWII pilots-in-training were known, and an army nurse. It just wasn’t working for me. While in communication with a former WWII pilot, he mentioned a friend who had been stationed in Casablanca. That sparked my interest. A bit of research into the First Allied Conference, which took place in Casablanca at the Anfa Hotel, and my pilot evolved into an OSS officer from Texas who speaks perfectly unaccented German and looks like a poster boy for Himmler’s SS. The Army nurse remains but she has transferred from Florida to Morocco where she is deployed with the 8th Evacuation Hospital. They become two people thrown together by circumstances who must learn to trust each other in order to survive in the weeks leading up to the Casablanca Conference.
* I have always found the North Africa Campaign fascinating, so the details of the conference were of particular interest. It was there that Roosevelt prevailed upon Churchill, Charles de Gualle, and Henri Giraud to formulate the policy of unconditional surrender by the Axis powers. Some German generals and government officials hoped to sue for peace as early as late 1942. They realized the unthinkable was happening. Germany was losing the war. Imagine how the peace might have looked without the policy of unconditional surrender. It is conceivable that Hitler might have survived the war. It is also possible he and his gang of thugs might have spent a few years as POW’s before being released, while leaving former Nazis in charge of the peace inside Germany. What an appalling scenario!
* Of course, the historical evidence shows that Hitler, in his megalomania, refused even the slightest suggestion of defeat, but in 1943, no one knew for sure what to expect. Spying and communications interception being what they were at the time, Germany knew the conference was to take place and its approximate date, but a Nazi translator made a significant error. He saw the word Casablanca, Spanish for “white house”, and assumed the conference was to take place at the White House in Washington, D.C., not the city in Morocco. The error was eventually discovered, but not in time for the Nazis to take action. Imagine how things might have turned out if the Nazis had figured out where the conference was taking place in time to attempt to disrupt it! That’s what I did in writing Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn.
* Sarah Barrett, U.S. Army R.N., is finished with wartime romance. Determined to protect her recently broken heart, she throws all of her time and energy into caring for her patients, but when she is given a coded message by a mysterious dying civilian, she is sucked into a vortex of danger and intrigue that threatens her very survival. The one person who can help Sarah is Kurt Heinz, a man with too many secrets to be trusted.
* “Oh. It’s you.”
* “From the restaurant on New Year’s Eve.”
* Kurt was silent for a moment, then it came back to him. “I remember. Sarah, right? You’re the girl who refused to dance with me.”
* A red flush crawled from her throat onto the apples of her cheeks. “Yes. I’m sorry if I was rude.”
* “I’ve been cut dead before. I got over it.”
* The girl’s eyes glittered. “I’m sure you did. Are you going to keep me standing here on the doorstep for everyone to see?”
* “Why? I’m not expecting company. Would it be a problem?”
* “It certainly might if the people who tore my apartment apart followed me here.”
* Kurt looked into her eyes with complete attention for the first time since opening the door. Whatever had happened to this girl, she looked terrified and angry. Not a particularly good combination for the covert activities he and Phelps were up to.
* Kurt made a quick decision. He stepped back and pulled the door wide while raising his voice.
* “You better come inside and tell me why you think what happened to your apartment has anything to do with me.”
* When they stepped into the living area, Phelps had disappeared. Kurt gestured toward the sofa and the girl sat down.
* Propping himself on the sofa’s arm, he looked down into her frightened eyes.
* “Now tell me how I can help you, Miss, uh…” “Barrett, Sarah. US Army. RN.”
* “Well, Nurse Barrett, what can I do for you?”
* The girl stuck her hand in her coat pocket and whipped out a scrap of paper that she waved in his face.
* “By telling me what’s on this paper and why it’s so important that somebody took a knife to my furniture.”
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