Please Welcome, Anne Barwell!!
We are thrilled that she has stopped by to give us insider information on how she researched her latest book Comes a Horseman and don’t forget to enter her Rafflecopter to win a copy of it.
Thanks for hosting me today as part of my blog tour for Comes a Horseman, the 3rd and final book in my WWII Echoes Rising series from DSP Publications.
I have a Rafflecopter running as part of the tour so be sure to enter. DSP Publications also have the ebooks for Shadowboxing (book 1), and Winter Duet (book 2) on sale from 17th July-August 4th.
While the first two books in the series are set in Germany, most of the action in Comes a Horseman takes place in France. This change in location brought with it a new set of research parameters. I’d become familiar with Germany in the 1940s, but now had to figure out a couple of routes for my characters to use to reach Normandy as they needed to be in that area before 6th June.
Getting them across the Rhine and into France took a lot of planning via google maps and I also had to find somewhere they could cross without being shot so that meant a safe place to leave Germany, and another to make landfall on the other side of the Rhine. Then, when they reached France, they needed somewhere safe to hide before starting their journey toward Normandy.
I was already tied down to a location that needed to be part of the journey across France because of information given in an earlier book. Luckily the library had just got in a book detailing railway routes in various parts of the world which included a map for the rail system of Paris in the 1940s! I love working in a library! That, and checking railway stations online, proved very helpful.
I’d already decided before I started writing Comes a Horseman that I’d use a fictional village for the location of most of the action once the team reached Normandy. As researching a small village in Normandy in the 1940s was going to problematic I figured at least with it being fictional I wouldn’t run into issues with readers telling me that I’d got a building in the wrong place. After I figured out where it needed to be, a friend came up with its name so it would mesh with its surrounding real locations.
Other locations in the book are real, and I read a lot of travel guides and websites to get an idea of what these places would have been like at the time. That included making sure I described houses built out of the materials they would have been at the time, and noting the cobbled streets. I also checked when the bombing raids took place for those specific locations so it was historically accurate that my characters could have been at those places at that time.
There are also a couple of other locations that I’ve deliberately not named, which play a big part in the story. One example is a coastal battery in France that is based on a real place—thank you to a great online site for the historical site map—although I’ve moved its location a little so it fitted the story.
Another issue with moving countries was the language. I’d sprinkled German through the first two books as I figured people tend to lapse into their own language during times of stress, plus it helped to anchor the books in that location. So, for continuity, I needed to add some French to the mix. Not only is one of the main characters—Michel—French, but the team soon comes into contact with members of the local resistance cell. Language also drove some of the plot as most of the characters are not fluent in French, German, and English. Having to learn a new language in a hurry often means a person can follow basic conversation with some effort but that’s it. Having someone who only knows English and German and very little French suddenly needing to communicate directly with someone who only speaks French and little German is going to cause problems.
As well as the geographic and language changes, I also wanted to ensure that these characters were French. That meant researching styles of dress, customs, food, and their mindset at the time, which meant reading up about such things as the political climate, the Vichy government and the STO—Service du travail obligatoire—which was the forced enlistment and deportation of thousands of French workers to Germany as labourers.
I’ve learned a lot in writing this story, although I didn’t end up using everything in my information crammed notebook, so hopefully it’s a location I can revisit again someday in another story.
Echoes Rising Book 3, sequel to Winter Duet
Sometimes the most desperate struggles take place far from the battlefield, and what happens in secret can change the course of history.
Victory is close at hand, but freedom remains frustratingly just beyond the grasp of German physicist Dr. Kristopher Lehrer, Resistance fighter Michel, and the remaining members of the team sent by the Allies—Captain Matt Bryant, Sergeant Ken Lowe, and Dr. Zhou Liang—as they fight to keep the atomic plans from the Nazis. The team reaches France and connects with members of Michel’s French Resistance cell in Normandy. Allied troops are poised to liberate France, and rescue is supposedly at hand. However, Kristopher is no longer sure the information he carries in his memory is safe with either side.
When Standartenführer Holm and his men finally catch up with their prey, the team is left with few options as they fight to keep atomic plans from the Nazis. With a traitor in their midst, who can they trust? Kristopher realizes he must become something he is not in order to save the man he loves. Death is biding his time, and sacrifices must be made for any of them to have the futures they want.
DSP Publications: https://www.dsppublications.com/books/comes-a-horseman-by-anne-barwell-399-b
Matt nodded, his lips moving although he did not speak. He was counting, Michel realized, as they pulled away from shore, and using the rhythm of his movement to distract himself from the darkness.
The moon’s light highlighted the waves lapping around the boat—the water seemed to reach toward them before diving back again. Ken and Matt quickly settled into a unified motion, both focused on what they were doing, although Ken glanced at Matt a couple of times.
Frej signaled for Matt and Ken to change direction slightly and rest the oars. They did that for a few moments, letting the boat drift with the current. If Michel squinted, he could see the outline of the bridge in the distance and several shapes moving at either end of it. The guards on duty would hopefully stay focused on the bridge itself and not notice a small rowboat sneaking over the border. The area was well guarded, but as it had been secured for quite some time, they would not be expecting trouble.
On the other side of the boat, Liang quickly turned and leaned over the side. As soon as he started to make a gagging noise he shoved his hand over his mouth to silence it. If his seasickness got any worse, it would be difficult to mask the noise of him vomiting over the side of the boat. He was doing his best to silence his dry heaving, but his hunched posture suggested he felt miserable and unwell.
Frej leaned toward Ken and gestured. Ken nodded, rested the oars again, and then he and Matt changed direction. Matt was still counting under his breath, and he gripped the oar tightly.
“Who’s there?” The shouted question shattered the silence.
Kristopher glanced around, an expression of panic on his face.
Michel put a hand on his arm to calm him but didn’t dare whisper the reassurance he wanted to. He turned around and strained his eyes, trying to find the source of the disruption. Matt and Ken stopped rowing, the boat drifting back the way they’d come, caught by the current.
He heard boots against wood in the distance—the unmistakable sound of men running, probably over the bridge crossing the Rhine south of their position. “No farther or I’ll shoot,” one of them yelled.
Frej got down on the floor of the boat. Michel and Kristopher followed, then Liang. Matt kept hold of his oar, trying to keep it as still as he could. He leaned down into a crouch, as did Ken.
Gunfire sounded from the bridge. A couple of shots in succession before stopping. Michel heard an engine, a vehicle approaching. A door slammed, and then everything went quiet again. Logically he knew the bridge was a good few kilometers away, but Frej was right about noise carrying on the water. If felt too close for comfort.
Frej waited a few minutes. “Row,” he whispered urgently. “While they are distracted.”
You can find the list of sites taking part in the blog tour here: https://annebarwell.wordpress.com/2017/07/23/comes-a-horseman-blog-tour
July 25 – MM Good Book Reviews
July 31 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
August 1 – Two Men Are Better Than One
August 1 – Genre Talk at The Novel Approach Reviews
August 2 – Love Bytes Reviews
August 3 – Andrew Q. Gordon
August 3 – DSP Publications Blog
August 4 – Nic Starr
August 4 – Alpha Book Club
August 7 – My Fiction Nook
August 8 – Divine Magazine
August 9 – Aisling Mancy
August 10 – Lucy Marker</em
Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.
In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.
She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts other authors, reviews for the GLBTQ Historical Site “Our Story” and Top2Bottom Reviews, and writes monthly blog posts for Authors Speak and Love Bytes.
Anne’s books have received honorable mentions four times and reached the finals three times in the Rainbow Awards. She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical.
Website & Blog: http://annebarwell.wordpress.com/
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sylvrebarwellhoffmann/
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