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May 4: A Greater Yes
May 4: Simple Harvest Reads
May 5: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS
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May 6: Daysong Reflections
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May 15: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations
May 16: Artistic Nobody
Guest Post from Terri Wangaud
I hadn’t planned on writing No Neutral Ground. Friends and Enemies (book one of the Promise For Tomorrow series) was the WWII story I’d wanted to write, inspired by family history on the German side. Finishing that, I’d started writing a contemporary story set in one of my favorite places, Green Lake, Wisconsin.
At an ACFW conference, I had an appointment to pitch Friends and Enemies with an editor. She said I’d be likelier to get a contract if I had a series. The Green Lake story got shelved.
What could I write to partner with Friends and Enemies? That stumped me. The German side of the story was my big interest, but another one? No. I had no desire to return to Nazi Germany. My ancestry is three quarters German. All of my forbearers arrived in America before 1900, but it’s still a bitter thought that their homeland spawned such evil.
Germany’s out, so that left me with the other side of Friends and Enemies—the B-17s. I’d chosen the Flying Fortress because of my timeline. In mid-1944, the only American military men in Germany were shot-down airmen. I had plenty of material I hadn’t used in Friends and Enemies, but the plot had to be different. Something other writers hadn’t touched on. Maybe…Sweden?
Who’s familiar with Sweden’s role in World War II?
If American planes got in trouble during their missions and couldn’t make it back to their bases in England, they sought sanctuary in neutral countries. Switzerland is usually the first that comes to mind. Tricia Goyer had already written The Swiss Courier which touches on internees.
But Sweden. I had even visited Sweden. In 1993, my dad and I had gone to Sweden to cover a classic boat show for our magazine, Classic Boating. During a free day, we had wandered around Stockholm and taken lots of pictures.
I started the research and discovered, hmm, there’s not much, especially if you don’t know Swedish. One book I acquired held a eureka moment. A B-17 was damaged and the pilot told the crew to bail out. The navigator hurried to the cockpit and implored him to try to make it to Sweden. He was from Germany, a former member of the Hitler Youth, and he did not want to be captured by his former countrymen. There’s my male protagonist! Rafe discovered he had Jewish ancestry and had to flee Germany. Now he’s back at war with the homeland.
I still needed a female protagonist, and Jennie proved hard to pin down. I was pulling her together throughout the writing. I enjoyed reading accounts of Betty McIntosh, who served with the OSS in the China-Burma-India theater. Why not enlist Jennie’s services with the OSS in Sweden? She’s talented but lacks confidence. Pretty soon, Jennie found her voice.
As my research continued, I made a surprising discovery. One of the photos I’d taken in Stockholm turned out to be the former home of the American legation in Sweden. Jennie’s workplace. And I had thought it was just an example of lovely architecture.
I hope you’ll enjoy reading about Rafe and Jennie in No Neutral Ground.
About the Book
No Neutral Ground: After his father divorces his mother because of her Jewish ancestry, Rafe and the rest of his family flee Germany. As a B-17 navigator, he returns to Europe. On the ocean voyage, he meets Jennie, an artist journeying to Sweden to work with the OSS.
Flying missions against his former homeland arouses emotions that surprise Rafe. Despite being rejected, he is troubled by the destruction of Germany and his heart still cries for his father’s love.
Sweden may be neutral, but it’s full of intrigue. Jennie assists the OSS at the American legation in Sweden. She thought she’d be doing passive, behind-the-scenes work. Instead, she’s pushed into an active role to gain intelligence and frustrate the Germans.
How can Rafe and Jennie succeed in their dangerous roles when they are so conflicted?
About the Author
Terri Wangard grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, during the Lombardi Glory Years. Her first Girl Scout badge was the Writer. These days she is writing historical fiction, and won the 2013 Writers on the Storm contest and 2013 First Impressions, as well as being a 2012 Genesis finalist. Holder of a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in library science, she lives in Wisconsin. Her research included going for a ride in a WWII B-17 Flying Fortress bomber. Classic Boating Magazine, a family business since 1984, keeps her busy as an associate editor.
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