GENRE: MG Historical Fiction
It's the Netherlands in late 1944. Thirteen-year-old Dirk's Papa left to fight with the Resistance. Then Mama died. When the Gestapo snatched his older sister and he learned they were coming for him next, Dirk left home in the middle of the night. He had his pockets stuffed with food, his little sister asleep in his arms, and his heart heavy with a dark secret.
Wrapping her tattered blanket around her shoulders, Els trudged down the hall, following other prisoners. Outside, the chilly breeze flapped her blanket, and she clutched it tighter. Guards formed the captives in a row, in front of a brick wall. More guards stood on the opposite side of the courtyard with rifles.
“Nooo!” cried a man next to Els. “They’re going to—”
“Halt die Klappe” a soldier shouted. A light rain fell. Els put her hand on the shoulder of the man who had cried out. His weeping intensified. “Noo!” he cried, looking around as if appealing to some unseen authority.
“You are all guilty of crimes against the Third Reich,” an officer announced. “You have been sentenced, and now you will pay for what you have done.”
He looked at the soldiers. “Ready,” he shouted above the din of prisoners begging for mercy. The soldiers clutched their rifles.
Els cleared her throat and sang as loudly as she could in her weakened condition, “Grant that I may remain brave, your servant for always,” she began. Several prisoners joined her in singing the national anthem. “And may defeat the tyranny which pierces my heart.”
“Ready!” the officer shouted again.
Thunder boomed and the rain fell harder. It wasn’t supposed to end like this. The Gestapo was supposed to realize Els would never talk, and they’d release her. And then she’d somehow find Dirk.
“Aim,” the officer said. The soldiers raised their rifles.
Where do you get your ideas?
Because I write historical fiction, the closer my story is to the actual happenings, the better. That requires a lot of research. In addition to increasing accuracy, research digs up compelling details. Here’s an example. Eighteen-year-old Els is the most determined character in the book. So, when the Gestapo tortures her to get secrets, it’s the proverbial irresistible force (Gestapo) slamming into an immovable object (Els). What dramatic incident could I write to portray this high-speed collision of wills? The way the manipulative interrogator interviews Els is based on a true story, taken from what Nazi arch villain Klaus Barbie did during World War II.
What is your writing process like?
I read lots of history, scouring the books and articles for nuggets I can include in my story. These bits and pieces do for my story what chocolate chunks do for an oatmeal cookie. But a full- length book requires dozens of nuggets and sometimes I read a two-hundred-page book and only get a half dozen usable pieces? So I read more. And more.
What advice do you have for writers?
Join a writers’ group. Most of us need the accountability to have something finished for the next meeting and we need an outside objective perspective on our work. We know what we’re trying to say, so we have blind spots.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing, if at all?
I learned when I’ve worked long and hard on a story and I’m sure it’s as good as I can possibly make it, it isn’t. At that point, it’s only 80% finished. It may be written from beginning to end, but I need to set it aside and come back later to look at it with fresh eyes. I have to push myself to make it better. Scenes and characters need added nuances, an additional physical characteristic here, a bit more bite in a sarcastic comment there, and more precise verbs in multiple places.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I read a lot of books and articles. I watched online documentaries. I interviewed Dutch survivors of WWII who were children at the time. I spent three weeks in the Netherlands touring and talking to people. An example of what I learned is that I didn’t really get how much the Dutch ride bikes until I was there and saw more bikes than cars on the road.
Barnes and Noble: https://tinyurl.com/yc73xnjw
AUTHOR Bio and Links
Life conspired to get Rob Currie to write Hunger Winter: A World War II Novel. His father is a World War II veteran and his wife is Dutch. An award-winning author, it was only a matter of time before he would focus his writing on World War II. Research for Hunger Winter included numerous books, interviews with Dutch WWII survivors, and three weeks in the Netherlands. His investigation revealed astonishing details about the Dutch experience of the war, which begged to be turned into a book.
Born and raised in the suburbs of Detroit, he graduated from Cornerstone University and went on to earn a master's degree and doctorate in psychology from St. Louis University. He has taught psychology at Judson University since 1987. His hobbies include playing basketball, cooking, and writing poetry.
Author Web Site: www.robcurrieauthor.com
Buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Hunger-Winter-World-War-Novel/dp/1496440358/
Rob Currie will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
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Good Morning! Your book sounds great and I'm glad I got to learn about it. Thank you!
Sounds like a good read.
A time period that fascinates and creates awareness.
Wow the excerpt is riveting and the cover is expansive.
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