Please welcome author Anne Barwell, as she discusses her WWII series, Winter Duet!
Thanks for hosting me today.
At the beginning of Winter Duet, book 2 of my WWII Echoes Rising series, Kristopher and Michel leave the safety of the convent in Alexanderdorf to head for Switzerland. They are supposed to meet up with the Allied team—Matt, Ken and Liang—who were sent into Germany to retrieve the plans Kristopher now carries. However, if their journey were straightforward, it would make for a far less interesting story. I debated having them go around the areas where the Allies were bombing, then decided it would be more exciting if they were caught at ground zero.
Meanwhile Matt and his team leave Berlin and take an alternate route to Switzerland. Neither group can ignore a downed RAF aircraft in the Black Forest, and so decide to look for the pilot. Naturally they each run into problems of their own, and become separated. When they regroup it’s not with the person they started with, and there is a new addition to the team—an injured New Zealand pilot, Leo Dawson.
One of the early decisions I made when I was planning Winter Duet was to have characters working together who hadn’t before. Also, as two of the men I was throwing together had never met, it would add an extra element of suspicion and uncertainty.
With writing an ensemble cast of characters, I try to have more than one storyline although they come together towards the end of the book. Having all of the characters in the same scene tends to marginalise some of them, and I wanted them to each have a decent amount of ‘book time’.
These men are on the run from the SS during war time and behind enemy lines, so they cannot afford to confirm their true identities to someone they’ve just met. Then there is the language barrier. While most of their group speak fluent German, Ken doesn’t. He knows enough to get by but as their original mission was supposed to be a simple in and out retrieval of the plans, he realises his shortcomings could be a problem.
“I know my limitations, and I’m following most of what you’re saying but not all of it. As long as you don’t speak too quickly I’ll be fine.” Ken grew quiet for a few minutes before continuing. “This was supposed to be a simple mission. We were to go in, get the plans, and get out. I didn’t expect to be in Germany for this amount of time. Matt would have handled most of the conversation with the locals. He sounds like one. I know I don’t.”
I’d wanted to play around a bit with those issues in this story, although the men do pick up more of the language they’re lacking the longer they are together. While operatives who were sent into enemy territory as undercover agents were chosen because of their language skills, others—such as Ken who is the radio operator for this team—had different skills. For example a pilot for the RAF didn’t need to speak fluent German, just know enough basic phrases so he could surrender in case he was captured. And that’s only if his aircraft went down. So…if he meets Michel, who speaks fluent German, but not English, it’s going to be a problem.
Echoes Rising Book 2
Who do you trust when no one is who they seem?
Fleeing German physicist Dr Kristopher Lehrer and his lover, Resistance fighter Michel, are caught up in an Allied bombing campaign. Separated from Michel after discovering an injured RAF pilot in the Black Forest, and pursued by the SS for the information he carries, Kristopher is frantic to reunite, unaware that Michel has been recruited by the Allies for a rescue mission.
Time is running out. The Gestapo is closing in. How can they decide who to trust, when the dagger pointed at Kristopher’s back could be wielded by a friend?
Author’s note: This is the third edition of Winter Duet. The first and second editions were released by another publishing house. This story has been re-edited, and uses UK spelling to reflect its setting.
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08VL2LQNB
Universal Link: https://books2read.com/WinterDuetAB
Michel parted the bushes cautiously and peered through. One glance at who had provoked the response from the soldiers and he closed his peek hole quickly and stayed as still as he could.
“Heil Hitler!” Reiniger returned the greeting. “Stay attentive!” he snapped at them. “Now is not the time for idle conversation. Anyone caught doing so will be disciplined accordingly. Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes, Herr Obersturmführer,” both men chorused.
If Reiniger had heard any of their discussion, they were lucky to get off with a warning. Someone in their unit at the institute had been caught shirking his duties. Michel shuddered, not wanting to dwell on the details. The man’s punishment had been harsh, without mercy, and far in excess of what was required for his so-called crime.
“Our enemy is close by. We’ve already caught one, and I suspect his companions will not readily abandon him.” Reiniger snorted. “That weakness can be used to our advantage, so it is important we are prepared. Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes, Herr Obersturmführer.”
Michel took a sharp breath. Surely Reiniger hadn’t found Kit? Kit was with Leo. If two men had been discovered, Reiniger would have said so. Wouldn’t he? Unless Kit had left Leo and been caught a distance from him.
No. Kit wouldn’t… Michel mentally groaned. Of course he would, if he thought it necessary, and especially if he’d decided Michel might be walking into some kind of trap. He’d try to warn him and to hell with the consequences.
Reiniger turned, his eyes narrowing as he glanced in Michel’s direction. Michel held his breath, praying, hoping his hiding place hadn’t been compromised. “What are you standing here for?” Reiniger snapped at the two soldiers. “They’re somewhere close, and I want them found.” He gestured in the direction from which Michel had come. “Get on with it.”
“Yes, Herr Obersturmführer.”
The soldiers saluted and moved off. Reiniger stood for a moment, as though thinking, his face creasing into a frown, and then he headed in the opposite direction. He muttered something under his breath, but Michel couldn’t make out the words.
He heard breathing behind him. Close behind him.
Merde! He reached for his weapon, but before he could draw it, he felt the barrel of a gun pressed against his back.
Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with Kaylee: a cat with “tortitude” who is convinced that the house is run to suit her; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date, it appears as though Kaylee may be winning.
In 2008, Anne 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 and reviews for other authors, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes. She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance writers, and a member of RWNZ.
Anne’s books have received honourable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner up in the Rainbow Awards. She has also been nominated three times in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—twice for Best Fantasy, once for Best Historical, and once for All-Time Favourite M/M Author.
Website & Blog—Drops of Ink: http://annebarwell.wordpress.com/
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