Spies, Flutes, and Red-Heads: The Makings of a Spy Novel

Welcome mystery writer extraordinaire, Carole Brown. I’m so excited to have her as my guest because the second book in her WW II mystery series The Spies of World War II, A Flute In A Willow is now available. She’s agreed to share a bit about how she does  her research and developed her characters and plot for the seriesDSCN4465 (3)

 

Spies:

Developing my WWII Spies series came from two things:

  • Listening to my mother talk about her life during WWII and seeing the pictures she had
  • A short story about a “supposed” civilian spy during WWII from an elderly man. Rumors had it that HE was that spy, but he neither confirmed nor denied it.

Music:

And since dangers and sacrifices abound in WWII stories—some of which I brought out in these books, I also wanted to create a sense of fun, warmth and love to lighten the suspense. One way I managed to create the feeling was to bring music into the story as a subplot.

The Red-headed Sisters:

I’d already planned to feature three red-haired sisters in their own books. It was fun to create their personalities and who the heroes would be. Fortunately, while I wrote book one, the heroes for the other two books appeared and were good matches for sisters two and three.

Let me share brief thoughts how the spies, music and sisters all work together to make this series heartwarming and suspenseful books.

With Music in Their Hearts

With Music in Their Hearts

With my interest piqued and imagination soaring, I settled on the plot for book one where the hero—handsome, smart, a minister and godly—is rejected to serve overseas but recruited to serve as a civilian spy. Sparks of jealousy and love fly between him and the heroine as they battle suspicions that one or the other is not on the up and up.

Emma Jaine Rayner, by her own claims, is a non-professional pianist, who entertains and gives an extra doze of homeyness to the boarding house residents with the nightly musical fests. Her active imagination while playing, increases her longing for a man to love—and Tyrell Walker, the civilian spy, increases the pressure by wooing her with his trained voice.

AFitW 5th image(2)

 

A Flute in the Willows

In Book Two, the heroine and hero are both rebels in their own way. She has two loves—her skating and Jerry, her husband, an overseas U.S. spy. But when he returns home looking like a skeleton trying to return to life, she’s scared. What happened in Germany to change a man so much? When his wife’s life is threatened, Jerry realizes he can’t stand by and do nothing. Jerry has to risk all for the very soul and life of himself—Josie. These two damaged, rebellious people learn the hard way that leaning on God instead of their ownselves and abilities is the only true way to love and happiness.

Josephine Rayner Patterson, the second sister, is quite different from her older sister. She’s athletic and training for the Olympics once it’s resumed after the war. But returning to her flute after a drastic alteration in her life, it’s the balm that heals her troubled heart. In spite of resisting, Jerry Patterson through her music and enduring love, finds his heart strangely drawn to what he’s never experienced before.

Sing Until You Die

The third book in this series has a tentative publishing date of 2019. The youngest sister of the WWII Spies sister overhears a private conversation while singing to the military troops and realizes it’s vital information to the well being of the United States. When she’s almost discovered, Claire barely escapes. Surrounded by zealous people she can’t and won’t trust, Claire has no options but to trust the one person she most disdains, the one person she ran from, quiet, plugging-along Wills but rumored to be the best spy serving on U.S. soil. In the midst of danger, Wills has the chance of a lifetime: to show the love of his life his love for her. Will she learn that God is her strength and wisdom and that no matter how well she can sing, how far she travels, how many men she meets, only Wills can fill the void in her heart?

Claire Roseanne Rayner is the princess of the family, the petted and beloved daughter of the Rayner Family who sings like a bird and is determined to fly away like one too. She loves God but staying away from the boy-turned-man she grew up with is never far from her mind. William (Wills) Mason has never wavered in his love for Claire Rayner. In spite of having no talent in either singing or playing, he’s fully behind Claire’s musical ambitions.

More:

Spies

Researching the spies was an eye-opening experience. Not only danger is involved, but there are tons of reasons why men—and women—serve in such a capacity. The rewards are vast—money, esteem, the parties and socializing, exotic countries—if all goes as hoped and the spy escapes detection. Caught—prison and death can be the result.

Music

It was easy to include this in these books because of my own love of music. The decision as to what or how it was brought into each book was also a fairly easy decision. Music has so many benefits besides lightening up suspense books.

  • Encouragement
  • Mood enhancers
  • Spiritual uplifter
  • Good music is healthy

and so much more.

One tidbit before I move on to the sisters. I love most instruments, but the flute was not one of them—until I heard one played by an expert. That changed my ideas about flutes, and from then on, I’ve been a devoted fan. The flute seemed the perfect instrument to include in atheletic Josie’s life.

Red-headed Sisters

I’ve always loved red hair. It’s so vibrant, rich in color and alluring. Studying and researching the subject I realized how many different shades of red there are. Choosing the shades was fun, but I wanted it to be more than fun. The shades needed to match their personalities.

All in all, the first two books have been a delight to write, and I’m looking forward to the writing the third book soon.

 

Thanks for allowing me to visit, Cindy.

Absolutely loved having you.  You are always a delightful guest. Thanks for making the time.  If you’d like to learn more about Carole and her latest novel read on.

Back Cover Blurb for Flute in the Willows

Both rebels in their own way, Josie and Jerry Patterson must figure out how to keep the other’s love…and keep the German enemy at bay.

She has two loves—her skating and Jerry, her husband. But when he returns home looking like a skeleton trying to return to life, she’s scared. What happened in Germany to change a man so much? Has another woman captured his heart?

Jerry has vowed to let Josie live her own glamourous life…especially after what happened in Germany. But when his wife’s life is threatened, Jerry realizes he can’t stand by and do nothing. Jerry has to risk all for the very soul and life of himself—Josie.

These two damaged, rebellious people learn the hard way that leaning on God instead of their own selves and abilities is the only true way to love and happiness.

Buy the Book:

https://www.amazon.com/Carole-Brown/e/B00EZV4RFY/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1492661357&sr=1-1

About Carole Brown:

Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. An author of ten books, she loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

Personal blog: http://sunnebnkwrtr.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CaroleBrown.author

Amazon Author Page:  http://www.amazon.com/Carole-Brown/e/B00EZV4RFY/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1427898838&sr=8-1

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/browncarole212

BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/carole-brown

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/sunnywrtr/boards/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5237997-carole-brown

Linkedin:  https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=67381031

Google+:    https://plus.google.com/u/0/113068871986311965415/posts

Stitches in Time:  http://stitchesthrutime.blogspot.com/

Question for readers from Carole:

How much research detail do you like when reading a book? Is there ever too much or not quite enough to suit you?

 

I loved learning how Carole did her research and built her story world.  I strive to give my readers helpful information and writing tools. If you enjoyed this peek into the research side of the writing world sign up for this blog before you leave and receive more interesting and fun posts in your email.

 

 

Advertisements

Trivia on your mind? It has value

Trivia cloud

I’ve always believed nothing you experience or learn is ever wasted. This is especially true in our writing journey. Maybe you were never very good at sports. Yet participation in PE class taught you the fundamentals. When one of your characters is a jock, you have background material to make him believable. Don’t discard trivial things. Those pieces of trivia can make or break a novel.

Tidbits add depth to novels

tree

During my online critique group, we were going over a fellow-writers fantasy piece. The others pointed out great ideas for improvement.  Then I added my two cents, or shall I say pieces of trivia.  The author has a bird, a tree and a setting that all represented something. I pulled from my vast knowledge of weird trivial information to help the author clarify what kind of symbolism she may want based on the point each symbol was to represent. Somewhere in my trunk of little cared about facts I drew out tidbits regarding cedar trees and their significance.  That clarified things for her.

For writers, details are important. As much as I hate to analyze a piece of pros for symbolism. (That boring task we had to attempt in senior English.) I find as a reader my mind connects those tiny tidbits and subtle symbols to the plot and the characters psyche.

Go, Learn Things

Never underestimate the value of wandering through a museum or attending an ethnic festival. Don’t turn down an opportunity to learn something new.  As much as you may hate science or history there are bits of trivia that may seep into your brain and be the cornerstone of a plot line you need. Think docudramas from the History Channel.

 

 

We all know grammar skills are important tools. Yet a well-written sentence with incorrect information or boring similes will cause a reader to close your book faster than a cat fleeing the kitchen when bacon grease splatters his fur.

enhanced-buzz-4069-1377106146-30

I know many things about dog behavior because of dog groomers in my family. Those factoids helped shape Brutus the dog in my contemporary romance New Duet that releases May 2018. (Shameless promotion.) His behavior is pivotal to the lead characters storyline.

The more you read, the more you know.

953fb7fbe77fbc12273dbc65291c5fd0

 

Although a recent scientific study claims our brains work at forgetting unimportant information making room for relevant facts. (High School French.) However, we still have a place in the far-recesses of our brain for trivia.  Memories glue those bits in our head. In a nanosecond we can recall baseball statistics, variations on a favorite card game or the state capitals we learned in fifth grade. Who remembers how to speak Pig Latin?

And many of these seemingly useless facts that don’t relate to our day job may just find a place in your novel or your critique partner’s.

Share some trivia you used to help shape your story world.

Food, Food Glorious Food- How Much Should You Have In Your Novel

did you know Green Bean Casserole was created in 1955 by the Campbell Soup Company? Be sure you do before you place in on the table in your 1800s historical novel.

Did you know Green Bean Casserole was created in 1955 by the Campbell Soup Company? Be sure you do before you place it on the table in your 1800s historical novel.

There were no hamburgers in the 1870s.

I start this blog with that statement to make a point. Do your research. Otherwise you’ll be branded an amatuer by readers who know.  Googling the origin of the hamburger clearly shows it was served in the 20th century. My novel takes place on a ranch in 1870’s Texas. A ranch has cattle (duh!) But a modern American hamburger was not on the menu. Food in your novel may or may not be a central part of your plot but it can speak to setting. It is important whatever is served is authentic to the time period.

Although I don’t focus a lot on the food in my WIP, many scenes take place at the kitchen table. The housekeeper is Mexican and she often serves beans and tortillas as well as steak, eggs and biscuits. Evangeline, our heroine, although she has little interest in cooking owns a few cookbooks. In them you will find detailed instructions on how to prepare a roast in your fireplace, making all manner of baked goods from breads to cakes from scratch. Being of Irish and Swedish parents her taste in food is definitely not going to include chili peppers.

Food and setting

Because the setting is a ranch, beef is going to be served often. Although we can choose at the supermarket what cuts we prefer. These ranchers ate all parts of the bovine from the tongue to tail. Steaks for breakfast verses porridge. Cowhands need a stick to their ribs kind of meal for the hard work ahead.

This ranch has a chicken coop and a large garden so a greater variety of food is available. An orchard and berry patches are nearby as well. So, jams, jellies, preserves and pies would appear on the table.

There is also a dry goods store in a nearby town. One could purchase salt pork, dried beans, flour, sugar, crackers and possibly eggs, milk and fresh produce brought in from neighboring farms. This would be a good way to supplement their diet with things they can’t produce themselves.

Lots of Bread

Biscuits and bread take on different forms in historical. Baking powder biscuits as well as sourdough biscuits might be served. Sourdough is made with a starter. Bacteria in the air causes it to rise. The starter is scooped out and mixed with flour, salt and water an allowed to rise before cooking. It can be baked or fried. (I made some right from a Little House on the Prairie cookbook with my kids years ago. It is much heavier than yeast bread and very filling.) Yeast bread was a luxury. Sourdough starter could be easily taken on the trail traveling west rather than yeast which needs special care. The sourdough would rise even in a jostling wagon. Yeast bread referred to as light bread might be purchased from bakeries rather than made at home.

On the trail

On a cattle drive the trail cook may create stews, soups and pies from dried meat, vegetables and fruit. These take up less room in the wagon. Lots of fried potatoes, salt pork and beans. And coffee, coffee, coffee. If there were towns along the trail supplies could be replenished. Even so lots of flour and other staples filled the chuck wagon.

Food and characters

Recently I read a novel set in the Yukon during the Alaskan Gold rush. The Christmas meal in the far north was quite different. Salmon was the main course. Red beans and rice fixed Cajun style was also served. One of the characters had learned to make it while in Louisiana. That explained why a lady from Massachusetts would serve such a dish. It reminded the reader she was well-traveled. Food can give a lot of backstory without actually revealing backstory.

Food equals emotions

Unless, there is a reason to go into detail about what’s being served I avoid planning those menus. Food can be used to create mood or show emotion. My reluctant bride, Evangeline is not a great cook but she loves to bake cakes. Jake is surprised to find his new bride and not the housekeeper had made the delicious cake. The cake represented another change in Evangeline’s attitude toward marriage. The new bride Marty in Love Comes Softly by Jeanette Oke is determined to prepare something besides pancakes for her new husband. A hilarious chase scene occurs in the chicken coop resulting in the rooster getting his beak hacked off with her ax. Clark rescues her and presents the bird plucked and pot ready suggesting it might be better boiled with dumplings rather than fried. We learn how to prepare a tough old chicken while experiencing Marty and Clark’s budding relationship.

Menus

Know why you are sharing the menu and what purpose it serves in creating your scene. If the main character is a chef or a foodie then meal preparation and even recipes in the back of novels are important elements to keep the readers attention. A historical novel restaurant menu is going to be different from a modern one. No fast food and limited daily selection. Often the waitress told the customer the few items available. And others only had one choice for the day. It all depends on the setting.

Even homesteads consisted of simple menus often the same thing every day.

Food and Culture

Contemporary novels set in America can focus on the culture of the area, latest trends in food or ethnicity of the characters. Her in Aurora Illinois we have a large Hispanic population and many foods common to that culture are available in most grocery stories. I have eaten cactus and chicken mola (chicken in chocolate sauce). I have a daughter-in-law from Mexico and many Hispanic friends so my culinary experience has grown beyond American style tacos. My other daughter-in-law is from the Philippines and I have friends from Sri Lanka. There are several grocery stores that carry items to prepare their dishes. Red rice is a treat for my Sri Lankan friends and my daughter-in-law is very particular about the rice she buys. I had no idea there was something called sweet rice. Sushi is becoming popular almost everywhere. And now southern sweet tea (you know the kind that reminds you of Kool-Aid) is now a common selection at all restaurants even fast food. The Midwest she is a changing.

Get it right

My final thought on food in a novel. In true life settings get the menus for the restaurants and fast food places right. If the eatery is fictious be sure the menu is typical for the setting or serves a purpose in moving the story along. Comfort food like mac and cheese can set the mood to de-stress. While prime rib is definitely a date night.

As a writer how much detail do you put into scenes with food?

As a reader how does food in a story effect you?

Please share, I love comments and learning from my readers.