Friday, December 18, 2015

Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn by Linda Bennett Pennell @LindaPennell @goddessfish



INTERVIEW

Welcome!  Thanks for stopping by for this Q&A.  Tell us about your current release.

Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn is set in 1943 in the weeks leading up to the First Allied Conference. It tells the story of two people sucked into a vortex of intrigue and danger who must learn to trust each other in order to survive. Kurt and Sarah chase double agents, spies, and a murderer through the alleys of Casablanca, all the while resisting the one thing that neither of them wants – falling in love.

Here is a little taste of the story:

Casablanca, 1943: a viper’s nest of double agents and spies where OSS Officer Kurt Heinz finds his skill in covert operations pushed to the limit. Allied success in North Africa and the fate of the First Allied Conference—perhaps the outcome of the war—hang on Kurt’s next mission. The nature of his work makes relationships impossible. Nonetheless, he is increasingly torn between duty and the beautiful girl who desperately needs his protection and help.

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, a man with too many secrets to be trusted. 

Why did you write this particular story?

I hold a B.A. in US and English history, so it should be 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. I was in communication with a former WWII pilot who happened to mention 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 are thrown together by circumstances in the weeks leading up to the Casablanca Conference.

The details of the conference are particularly interesting. 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, Hitler, in his megalomania, refused even the slightest suggestion of defeat. Spying and communications interception being what they were at the time, Hitler knew the conference was to take place and its approximate date, but a Nazi translator made a strategic 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 Germans 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.

Here is my Pinterest board for Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn. It contains pictures of the places where Kurt and Sarah went and what they saw, as well as, pictures pertaining to the Casablanca Conference and historical Casablanca.


Where do you research for your books?

Love it or hate it, we authors are all indebted to the Internet these days. In the past, I spent my fair share of time among the dusty tomes of libraries, but I now use the Internet for much of my research. Google maps and Google Earth help me understand the topography of locations I am writing about but have never visited. They also often have pictures associated with the searches that are very valuable resources. Google searches for antique maps provide information on the historical layouts of towns and cities. Searches of antique images of locales, architecture, time periods, clothing, etc. turn up the visuals that allow me to get the details right in my historical novels. Of course, I also owe my soul to Amazon. They are simply delighted by the number of research sources I order when I start a new book.

Are the names of the characters in your novels important? How and why?

Names in historical fiction are critically important. Nothing is more irritating to readers than details that are not quite right, that are off somehow. Names can be one the most jarring elements when they are not appropriate to the period. For example, naming one’s 1840’s heroine Bambi, Kylie, or Kayla would be completely out of sync with the era.


What was your first sale as an author?

My first published novel was Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel. It tells a story of lives unfolding in different centuries, but irrevocably linked and changed forever by a series of murders in 1930.

Here is a taste of the story:

Lake City, Florida, June, 1930: Al Capone checks in for an unusually long stay at the Blanche Hotel, a nice enough joint for an insignificant little whistle stop. The following night, young Jack Blevins witnesses a body being dumped heralding the summer of violence to come. One-by-one, people controlling county vice activities swing from KKK ropes. No moonshine distributor, gaming operator, or brothel madam, black or white, is safe from the Klan's self-righteous vigilantism. Jack's older sister Meg, a waitress at the Blanche, and her fiancĂ©, a sheriff’s deputy, discover reasons to believe the lynchings are cover for a much larger ambition than simply ridding the county of vice. Someone, possibly backed by Capone, has secret plans for filling the voids created by the killings. But as the body count grows and crosses burn, they come to realize this knowledge may get all of them killed.  

Gainesville, Florida, August, 2011: Liz Reams, an up and coming young academic specializing in the history of American crime, impulsively moves across the continent to follow a man who convinces her of his devotion yet refuses to say the three simple words I love you. Despite entreaties of friends and family, she is attracted to edginess and a certain type of glamour in her men, both living and historical. Her personal life is an emotional roller coaster, but her career options suddenly blossom beyond all expectation, creating a very different type of stress. To deal with it all, Liz loses herself in her professional passion, original research into the life and times of her favorite bad boy, Al Capone. What she discovers about 1930’s summer of violence, and herself in the process, leaves her reeling at first and then changed forever.

Here is a link to a Pinterest board showing lots of pictures of places the characters go and some background on Capone:  https://www.pinterest.com/lindabennettpen/al-capone-at-the-blanche-hotel/


Do you use a pen name? If so, how did you come up with it?

I’m not shy. Not only do I write under my real name, I also include my maiden name so that anyone who has ever known me can find my work. PR needs aside, Pennell is not a very common name, but Linda is very common among those of us who are part of the extended family. Supposedly, all Pennells in the New World are related. There is a Linda Pennell, Ph.D. who lives in Ohio and writes science textbooks. I used to have students ask if I were she. There is also a screenwriter in L.A. whose email address is one dot off of mine. I discovered this when I received a dinner invitation from a movie producer to a very nice Los Angeles restaurant via Evite. Sadly, I had to let him know that I was 1,000 miles away and probably was not the person he wanted to see show up at the restaurant. SIGH!! Including the middle name seemed like a good idea.

Tell us about your next release.

My work in progress is set in Miami and Havana. It is told in alternating historical and contemporary timelines featuring Professor Liz Reams from Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel. This time she is chasing information on Meyer Lansky, the “Mob’s Accountant” and a founding member of Murder Incorporated.




ABOUT THE BOOK



Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn
by Linda Bennett Pennell


GENRE: historical fiction with romantic elements


BLURB:

Casablanca, 1943: a viper’s nest of double agents and spies where OSS Officer Kurt Heinz finds his skill in covert operations pushed to the limit. Allied success in North Africa and the fate of the First Allied Conference—perhaps the outcome of the war—hang on Kurt’s next mission. The nature of his work makes relationships impossible. Nonetheless, he is increasingly torn between duty and the beautiful girl who desperately needs his protection and help.

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.


EXCERPT

“I’m Heinz. What do you want?”

“Oh. It’s you.”

“Yeah?”

“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.”



AUTHOR Bio and Links:

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 


Books:

Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel from Soul Mate Publishing
Confederado do Norte from Soul Mate Publishing
When War Came Home from real Cypress Press
Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn available 8/28/15 from the Wild Rose Press






Twitter:  @LindaPennell

Buy link for Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel:  http://amzn.to/16qq3k5

Buy link for Confederado do Norte:  http://amzn.com/B00LMN5OMI

Buy ink for When War Came Home: http://amzn.com/B010RXNZRO



GIVEAWAY


Linda will be awarding $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

9 comments:

Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting

Linda Bennett Pennell said...

Thank you for hosting me!!

Rita said...

I enjoyed the interview.

Eva Millien said...

Enjoyed the interview and excerpt, sounds like a terrific read thanks for sharing and Have a Wonderful Holiday Season!

Victoria Alexander said...

Great interview, I enjoyed reading it and I'm looking forward to checking out the book! Thanks for sharing :)

Betty Woodrum said...

Awesome excerpt and interview, thank you for sharing!

Ree Dee said...

I enjoyed reading the interview. Thank you.

Angie D said...

Enjoyed the excerpt! Thanks for sharing!

Ran said...

Thanks for sharing!