Hello, friends! As I’ve shared with you before, my grandparents raised me. Granddaddy was stationed in the China-Burma-India Theater during World War II, then he and the family lived in Japan and visited different areas of the Far East during the reconstruction years following the war. So, growing up, my house was filled with Japanese and Asian furniture, paintings, knickknacks, and other keepsakes. As such, I didn’t get an opportunity to hear much about the European side of the war. Grandma had a brother who was a German prisoner of war in Stalag IV-B, but all she ever really told me about that was that every week she’d go to the store and buy a carton of cigarettes to send him because he could trade them for something or other while he was in the prison camp.
Now, while all this talk was going on during my childhood, I attended a private Christian school. And at school, we didn’t focus on such things as World History or American History. Okay, we actually did to a degree, but more than that, we focused on Biblical History. So, yes, learning about ancient Babylon and King Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams of a bajillion years ago took precedent over the more recent World War. (No offense intended either to God or the dream-plagued king.) As such, I really had no idea about the magnitude of German or Italian involvement in the war… until the fourth grade, when my teacher, Mrs. O’Brian, assigned us to read Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl. I was hooked! I thought Anne was just about the bravest girl to ever have lived!
My grandparents had a child who was just over a year older than my mother. Her name was Dawn, and she died from a hole in her heart early in 1962, a few months before her 15th birthday. In fact, she was one of the earliest patients of Dr. Denton Cooley, the world-famous cardiothoracic surgeon who performed the first implantation of a totally artificial heart. (When Aunt Dawn was seven, Dr. Cooley tried an innovative experimental surgery on her wherein he inserted a metal plug into the hole in her heart. Unfortunately, with this technology being in the developmental stages, the doctor didn’t anticipate that as she grew, the hole would also grow, and the plug essentially fell out!) There were photos of Aunt Dawn all over my house when I was growing up. And after I read Anne Frank’s Diary, I was convinced that Anne (who died in 1945) had somehow reincarnated (even though at Christian school, such thoughts were a HUGE no-no!) herself into my aunt who I’d never met and who was born four years after Anne’s death.
My admiration of Anne Frank led me to study and learn a lot about the European side of the war, and I’m particularly drawn to victims of Hitler and his minions. I don’t just mean, “Wow, that’s awful;” I mean, my heart literally hurts for them and all they endured. My feelings on this don’t only include Holocaust victims, but also those who had to hide to avoid being killed and those who were victims of the Blitzkrieg missions that destroyed so much of Europe and also claimed thousands of lives. And I have the utmost respect and admiration for the brave souls who risked their own lives to help the targeted people stay out of harm’s way.
Fast forward: Prior to the Covid lockdowns, I had several full-length manuscripts that were ready or nearly ready to pursue traditional representation. But after losing and nearly losing numerous friends and loved ones to the Coronavirus, I’ve reprioritized many facets of my life. This meant that I also vaulted seven of my books because I suddenly found them to be too dark. Perhaps they’ll come out of retirement someday, or perhaps the spiders will enjoy a new place to quilt their webs. As for the others, I’ve decided that I now want to pursue self-publishing rather than taking the traditional route.
In 2014, when my idea for a new novel, The Changeling of the Third Reich, came to me, I knew it was something I had to research as thoroughly as possible before I could begin writing. But once I decided to self-publish, I also knew the cover had to be perfect. The obvious solution for a book involving the Holocaust and the Blitz would be a swastika. But the mere idea of that really skeeved me out. I, personally, would not want to sit on a subway train with my nose buried in a book with a swastika on the cover, so I couldn’t ask any of my potential readers to do so either.
Since I dedicated my book to my late Aunt Dawn, I asked for and received my mother’s blessing to use Aunt Dawn on the back cover and an altered version of her on the front cover. I’d like to think if she’d have lived and gotten to know me, hopefully, she’d read my work and be proud that I’d want to use her image. But lacking that possibility, if nothing else, I figure it will give her a little piece of immortality. (I’m hoping that any family members or friends who are still alive and knew her personally will feel the same way.)
At any rate, here’s the cover reveal for my historical fiction -slash- psychological thriller that will be released on June 22, 2023. I’d love to know your thoughts, and even more so, I hope you’ll read it… and love it.
Let’s talk: Is there a particular part of history you feel especially drawn to? Did you or someone you know ever visit a doctor only to learn later that doctor became famous for something? Do you have a historical doppelganger in your family?