Tag: WWII fiction

Author Spotlight: Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger

Today on my blog, I’m having a chat with historical fiction author Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger about her books, research, and latest projects. Welcome, Chrystyna.

Tell us about your books. What topics inspire you? Are there any particular settings that you’re drawn to?

My stories tend to focus on the things that make my blood boil. One of my greatest values is fairness, tolerance and justice. Combine that with my love for discovering stories beneath the surface of things, and you’ve got a writer who writes the institutionalized stories: join ‘em, leave ‘em or take ‘em down.

My Reschen Valley series is set in northern Italy, in the province that was once Austria, and is based on the building of a dam. The fascist regime destroyed the entire valley and displaced hundreds of German-speaking families.

Souvenirs from Kiev is based on my relatives’ histories during WWII in Ukraine and takes readers on a perilous journey from the Underground to the DP camps of Germany.

Magda’s Mark, which is releasing in a collection, The Road to Liberation, this May, is based on a true story about my friend’s husband. Her father-in-law was a district SS officer in Moravia. When his son was born, he was returned to the mother circumcised.

Now, can you imagine the repercussions? My first thought was, “Holy ****! Who had the cajones to do that —pun intended—and what had pushed that person to take that great of risk?” My next question was, “And when we are pushed that far, are we not just becoming ‘one of ‘em’?”

As soon as I start asking those questions, I know I have a story—or an entire book. Magda’s Mark started off as a short story but when I got invited to take part in the Road to Liberation collection, it was burning to be expanded into novel length. I’m so glad I tackled that. I loved going to the beginning and to the end of Magda’s story.

What inspired you to become a historical novelist and write about the Second World War?

I had no intention of being a historical fiction novelist. It just happened that way. First, was the project I undertook in my mid-twenties to record the events my relatives experienced in WWII Ukraine. After I was done with writing what would become an publishable piece of work, I drove down to South Tyrol—that area of northern Italy I mentioned above—to recover. I passed Reschen Lake as I always did, haunted by that steeple poking out of the water. But this time the community had set up an exhibit illustrating exactly how the valley had been flooded. I took a walk after that, and wham! Like spirits rising from the waters, I had a whole cast of characters hovering before me, just above where those villages had once stood. I took in a deep breath and thought, another historical? Really? But they all crawled into my Nissan Micra and accompanied me for the next ten years.

I’ve got two more books to go and when I hit the WWII years with the current WIP, I realised I still have quite a few WWII stories in me. Souvenirs…came out in January and to rave reviews! Magda’s Mark was written in parallel and releases May 5th. I’ve got at least two more in me that I will tackle after the current series.

How do you go about researching your books?

I always, always visit the places I write about. I’m grateful to be able to do that. I live in central Europe, so hopping into the car and driving to my locales is hardly a challenge. In January this year I visited Litomerice, Czech Republic with my friend and cover designer. She goes on these research trips with me because she finds them inspiring and enriching. The visit was a surprise. I had written ahead to some of the libraries and ministries requesting to meet with sources I needed. Litomerice is not a terribly small town but a number of people knew who we were when we arrived. They’re kind of excited that someone from America is writing about them.

How do you think fiction, especially historical fiction, help us learn about different eras?

I think stories help us to understand the past, the present and the future. We function on narrative as much as we do on air and water. Now, in my opinion, historical fiction and science fiction serve the purposes of helping us to understand ourselves as a species, and the societies we live in. Surely, we learn historical details from our novels, but these stories are character-driven. They should resonate with the reader. Otherwise, we are writing non-fiction. I made that mistake of not drawing the lines in my first manuscripts. I still read some historical fiction and think, uh-oh, the author is info-dumping and the characters—as one mentor of mine remarked about my first drafts—are just being moved around like pieces on a chess board. I even saw a play like that in London a week ago. I was at the theatre with Marion Kummerow, who also writes WWII, and the story took place in Austria from 1899 to 1955. There was so much info-dumping done by the characters through monologues, Marion and I would glance at each other in the dark and kind of roll our eyes.

What can we look for next with you?

I’ve got a number of audiobook projects in the works—three to be exact, but the virus is preventing us from moving further on certain aspects—and then I will be releasing at least Book 5 of the Reschen Valley series by the end of October and perhaps the last one in December or January. Then possibly a whole slew of non-fiction books for my other business, two more WWII novels, and then I’m switching to a series that takes place in the 16th century in the Ottoman Empire. It’s going to be a doozie. In either case, if I have to be quarantined for a long time, I have a thousand ways to keep busy.

Can you give us a teaser of Magda’s Mark?

When the German military rolled past Voštiny, they were on the road opposite the Elbe River. Magda and her mother were singing “Meadows Green” and threshing the wheat but at the sight of those black automobiles and grey-green trucks, their song dissipated like smoke into the air. Magda’s mother straightened, one hand on her headscarf, like a gesture of disbelief. No tanks. No marching soldiers. Just the caravan, moving on south, growing smaller in size but larger in meaning.

When she looked towards the fields, Magda saw her father and her two brothers also pausing, one at a time, to witness the Germans chalking off the Sudetenland boundary with their exhaust fumes. The Nováks’ farm lay within it.

Magda’s father faced the cottage, and an entire exchange silently took place between her parents.

Then the rumors are true, her father said with a simple lift of his head.

What now? her mother asked via a glance toward the river and the pursing of lips.

Her father lowered his head. We finish the wheat.

And with that, Magda, her two brothers, and her parents stuck their heads in the sand and went back to work.

Later, at midday, urgent knocking rattled their door. Everyone froze except Magda. She looked around the room, as if this was to be the last scene she should remember. Her father held the edge of the table. Her mother stood. She was straight and proud and beautiful with an open face, the kindest light-brown eyes, and full lips. Magda’s brothers sat rigid in their chairs. Each of their wives held a child. And her grandparents sat so close to each other on the bench against the oven that they might as well have been in each other’s laps.

The knocking came more insistently, and this time they stirred into action. Magda’s father pushed himself from the table and left the room. The rest were in various stages of trying to look normal. A moment later, her father returned with the village heads. With baffling lightness, he offered them Becherovka, as if it were Christmas, and shared a joke about a cow and a farmer—Magda could never remember the story or the punch line that had made them laugh so.

The Sudetenland, the village wisemen announced, was now part of the Third Reich. Hitler was protecting his people. And that was why none of the other countries called foul on breaching the treaty.

“But we will not go to war,” one village elder had said, “as we may have feared.”

“Imagine that,” Magda’s father had said abruptly, in the tone he used when angry.

Her brothers, however, had visibly relaxed. They shouldn’t have.

Where can we find you online?

Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger is at www.inktreks.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/inktreks

@ckalyna on Twitter

And on Bookbub and LinkedIn.

Currently, all of her titles are available KU, in ebook format and paperback.

All of her books will be available over all platforms in eBook and paperback by end of April, and audiobooks over the next few months.

Thanks so much for chatting with me, Chrystyna! I’m looking forward towards your next release.

The Road to Liberation: Author spotlight Fenella J. Miller

This week on The Road to Liberation blog series, I’m pleased to welcome Fenella J. Miller, as she shares her inspiration for A Long Way Back, and a lovely extract to boot.

A Long Way Back, my contribution to this incredible ten book collection of World War II stories, was inspired by a comment from my editor. I was racking my brains as to what to write about that fitted the title – The Road to Liberation – when she suggested that I write about a character from my bestselling Barbara’s War series. Squadron Leader Alex Everton, the hero of the series, is missing for half the final book as he’s been shot down somewhere over France.

The Long Way Back is his story and fills in the missing nine months. I became so engrossed in my research I’m determined to write a series featuring the French Resistance.

Everything that Alex experiences after his Spitfire is shot down over Dieppe actually happened to someone during the war. Obviously, no Evader was unfortunate enough to endure all the hardships and misadventures that he and his fellow pilots did, but he’s a resourceful young man and, of course, eventually made his way back to his wife and son.

I always have RAF fighter pilots as my heroes because both my father and stepfather were in the RAF during World War II. When they were alive, I wasn’t a historical fiction writer and I really wish that I’d talked more about their exploits when I’d had the opportunity.

Here is an extract to give you a taste of what my book’s about:

They’d barely reached cruising height and speed when the radio crackled into life. ‘Red Leader, bandits include many snappers. I say again, many snappers, keep a good lookout. Over.’

Snappers was the codename for Messerschmitt 109s. He acknowledged the information and kept his eyes peeled. Then he saw them approaching. They looked like a small swarm of bees from that distance.

There was a well-known saying in the RAF that it wasn’t the Jerry that you saw that got you, but the one that you didn’t. How true that was.

‘Tally-ho, lads, stay in your pairs. Good luck and good hunting.’ There was no time to say more as the first of the 109s screamed towards him. Streams of tracer twisted past his port wing and he could see the flashes of the Germans guns. His eight Brownings spluttered and the pungent smell of burnt charges filtered into his mask. The bullets found the target and the cockpit of his enemy disintegrated.

No time to congratulate himself as two more were on him seeking revenge. He hauled on the stick and the drag pressed on his face and he almost blacked out. He kicked on the left rudder in the hope that this would confuse his opponents.

His head cleared and for a moment the sky was empty. Then from nowhere they were on him. A stream of solid fire engulfed the kite. He was hit. Flames engulfed his right wing. Bail or burn. He heaved and struggled to get out.

About Fenella:

Fenella J Miller was born in the Isle of Man. Her father was a Yorkshire man and her mother the daughter of a Rajah. She has worked as a nanny, cleaner, field worker, hotelier, chef, secondary and primary teacher and is now a full time writer.

She has over fifty Regency romantic adventures published plus four Jane Austen variations, four Victorian sagas and eight WW2 family sagas. She is a hybrid writer producing two World War II books a year for Aria Head of Zeus as well as four Regency romances. She lives in a small village in Essex with her British Shorthair cat. She has two adult children and three grandchildren.

To connect with Fenella, visit her website, connect with her on social media, or email her.

Website: www.fnellajmiller.co.uk

Email: fenella57@yahoo.com

Twitter: @fenellawriter

Fenella J Miller Author Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/FenellaJMiller/

To pre-order your copy of the The Road to Liberation Collection, click here:

https://books2read.com/RoadtoLiberation?fbclid=IwAR3WzxSp2Nr4bDUcps0U7zz9eBcBdDrFDZjc-X49i4Qk24JxbHGE4p1B2Ko

WWII and Art in Fiction

I’m thrilled to be part of this esteemed group of authors in WWII and Art in Fiction. My heroine Lydie is a young artist who uses her craft to cope with the horrors of war, grief, and abuse. It becomes a pivotal method in expressing what she cannot say, and helps guide her towards freedom.

In the mood for a fascinating thriller or historical fiction novel about art and World War II?

Several of these thrilling reads involve amateur sleuths, investigative reporters, and art historians hot on the trail of missing Nazi-looted artwork – often with deadly results. Others provide a fascinating insight into the lives of artists affected by the war.

If you love art and are fascinated by WWII, you won’t want to miss these captivating reads by Jennifer S. Alderson, Pamela Allegretto, Anne Allen, SL Beaumont, Daniella Bernett, Kellie Butler, and Lynne Kennedy.

Most of these titles are also available as audiobook, paperback and in Kindle Unlimited. Don’t forget – books make great gifts!

You can read previews of all seven books and purchase on Amazon.  Head to Jennifer’s post here:

 

 

http://jennifersalderson.com/2019/10/03/wwii-art-in-fiction/

Book Review: No Woman’s Land: a Holocaust novel by Ellie Midwood

Disclosure: Please note that the link below is an affiliate link and at no additional cost to you, I’ll earn a commission. When you purchase books using my Amazon affiliate link, they compensate me, which helps make this blog possible. Know that I only recommend books that I personally stand behind, or feel could enrich others’ lives.

Rating: Five stars

There is historical fiction, and then there’s Ellie Midwood. No Woman’s Land is a superb novel that brings the Minsk Ghetto to life in all of its harsh cruelty with a sense of hope and grace. Reading a story of the dour conditions of the Holocaust can be difficult on a reader, but Ms. Midwood has crafted a powerful story of the meaning of loyalty, friendship, and love in the bitterest of conditions. 

One can’t help but cheer on ghetto occupants Ilse , Rivka, and Liza as they navigate the treacherous dog eat dog world of the ghetto while still holding on to the ultimate thing that keeps them alive: love. Although these three women, and others in the ghetto, come from diverging backgrounds, they form a solidarity as they keep each other together and the hope for freedom alive. Through this narrative, they discover the only thing that keeps one alive is love during the harshest of conditions.
I appreciate Ilse Stein’s character arc as we meet her as a timid, sheltered Jewish girl who arrives in Minsk after she and her sisters are resettled into the ghettos. There she meets women like Rivka and Liza, savvy leaders who lost husbands as the winds of war rage over the eastern front. Isle learns just how strong she is as she vows to survive and keep her sisters safe.
Although disillusioned and jaded, she learns to trust as she meets Willy Schultz, an officer in the Luftwaffe who befriends her. Their love story is sweet, tender, and real as they let their guards down while coming to terms with being from opposing sides.
This book left me wanting to know more of what becomes of Ilse, Willy, Liza, and all of their friends after the book ended, especially because these people existed during World War II. Highly recommended. 

Book Review: The White Venus

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The White Venus, The Love and War Series Book Two  by Rupert Colley

Rating: Five Stars

Blurb:

When you trust your enemy more than your family

June 1940. A village in northern France awaits a garrison of conquering Germans. 

To their dismay, 16-year-old Pierre and his parents are forced to accommodate a German major. He is the enemy within their midst and, more pertinently, the unwanted lodger within their home. 

The problem, however, is that the German is annoyingly pleasant. The major, with a son of his own, empathises with Pierre in a way his father has never been able to

But when his father is arrested by the Gestapo, Pierre has to ask where his loyalties lie, and who are his friends and who, exactly, is the enemy. 

Desperate to prove himself a man, Pierre is continually thwarted by those he trusts – his parents, the villagers and especially Claire, the girl he so desires. 

Pierre’s quest brings to the fore a traumatic event in the family’s past, a tragedy never forgotten but never mentioned. Can Pierre confront his trauma, and prove himself a man in a country at war?

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, I’ll earn a commission. When you purchase books using my Amazon affiliate link, they compensate me, which helps make this blog possible. Know that I only recommend books that I personally stand behind, or feel could enrich others’ lives.

It’s rare that I find a book that I want to read in one sitting, but I stayed up all night reading this brilliant book. Characters move stories, and I was instantly taken with young Pierre. His character arc is superb. He first comes across as this young boy who has difficulty killing a chicken, but as the novel progresses, Pierre finds his strength.

It’s hard not to feel for Pierre as so much of what he thought was true is called into question, yet the novel is filled with humor as a young man’s boyhood antics with his friend Xavier and his perpetual crush on the lovely Claire heighten all the joy and angst of adolescence.

You will laugh and cry as you read this superb read filled with all the wonders and pain of a coming of age tale. I cheered Pierre on all the way. This was my first read of one of Colley’s novels, and I will certainly read the rest of the series.

To purchase: https://amzn.to/38C1xo7

Coming Soon! We’re celebrating the release of Dunkirk with an epic, riveting sale!

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Are you ready for Dunkirk? So are we! And we’re not just talking about ChristopherNolan’s upcoming summer blockbuster movie. Beyond the major motion picture, there is Dunkirk Week WWII Epic Novel Sale.

Discounted Books for 99c each!

40+ authors of the Facebook Second World War Club have40+ authors of the Facebook Second World War Club have joined together for the Dunkirk Week WWII Epic Novel Sale. From July 21-27 (the opening week of Dunkirk), we will discount a selection of our books to 99c to bring you more riveting tales of WWII from around the world.This is a great chance to discover some awesome WWII stories.

To find out more, go to: http://alexakang.com/dunkirk-book-sale/

We have tons of fun and interesting online events planned including:

Prizes & Giveaways including:

A promo week giveaway of Dunkirk: The History Behind the Major Motion

Picture  by Joshua Levine

A Rafflecopter giveaway of 11 paperback copies of some

of the fiction novels

that will be part of this sale.

A 7-day giveaway of 7 audio copies of The Importance of Being Churchill

by Lorri Moulton

Also, join us for:

6/26 A viewing Dunkirk Promo Official Trailer

6/29 A viewing of the book trailer for Girl at Dunkirk by David Spiller

7/4 A viewing of the book trailer for The Yankee Years by Dianne Ascroft

7/5 A viewing of the book trailer for 45th Nail  by Ian Lahey

7/7 Our Authors’ Pick of the Top 40 WWII Movies of all time.

7/10 A viewing of the book trailer for  Unrelenting by Marion Kummerow

7/13 A viewing of the book trailer for Luzon by Richard Barnes

7/14 The Book Speak Podcast reading of Roberta Kagan’s  All My Love, Detrick

7/17 Part One of our special two-part blog series on Dunkirk by Suzy Hendersen

7/19 A viewing of the book trailer for Eternal Flame  by Alexa Kang

7/21 Dunkirk Week WWII Epic Book Sale begins with The Book Speak Podcast

reading of The Girl at Dunkirk  by David Spiller

7/22 Part Two of our special two-part blog series on Dunkirk by Jeremy Strozer

7/24 Movie review of Dunkirk by Alexa Kang

Dates are subject to change.  For updated information, 

bookmark this page and be sure you won’t miss out:

http://alexakang.com/dunkirk-book-sale/