Hot on the heels of yesterday's Relaunch installment, we've got Anne Barwell here today. She's talking history and what it's like writing within worlds and contexts that are, basically, predetermined. Anne's got a couple releases forthcoming (two in the next four months!), a series continuation and a sequel, so be sure to look for those! Anne, you've got the floor:
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Thanks, Jessica, for hosting me J
I have two new releases from Dreamspinner Press in the next four months. ‘Winter Duet,’ which is book 2 of the ‘Echoes’ series, and the sequel to ‘Shadowboxing,’ is being released on October 6th. ‘On Wings of Song’ is a WW1 novella which begins with the Christmas Truce of 1914. It’s releasing on December 24th.
Both stories are historicals, which brings the question why do I write them? I don’t only write historicals. I’ve also written fantasy and science fiction, and contemporary within those frameworks. A story I want to write next year is more of a contemporary with a hint of fantasy although that’s not the focus of it. My writing follows the same patterns as my reading—if it looks interesting I’ll read it no matter what the genre—which makes sense as I write what I want to read.
One of the reasons I love a story set in another time and place is that it’s an opportunity to explore characters against a different kind of backdrop, where expectations are not what they are now. Hold up. That sounds suspiciously like fantasy and science fiction too, doesn’t it?
Guilty as charged.
My reading and writing is very character driven. I like dropping characters into a situation similar to a fish out of water and seeing what they do. It’s one of the reasons I like writing about WW1 and 2 and the effect of them on those who took part. People react differently to what they’d normally when faced with situations for which they aren’t prepared, or think they are, but really aren’t. It’s scary when faced with sink or swim, or fight or flight, and often those you’d think would find the inner strength to keep going don’t and vice versa.
Sadly too, with history, themes are repeated across different time periods. Wars are fought with those on the front lines literally caught in the crossfire and trying desperately to survive and cling to their sense of self. The only thing that changes are the weapons used, and a slight shift in societal expectations, which is not always for the better.
With an historical I can’t change what has happened, but I can tell the story of someone caught up in those events, and hopefully do them, and what happened, justice. One of the things I love about researching for historicals is the information I find that I wasn’t looking for. Often that brings with it a shift in the storyline and an opportunity to explore something I wasn’t planning to.
I think it’s important to know about history, and how past events affected people. There’s a saying that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. History is far more than fact and figures—it’s the story of those who lived through it.
Lest we forget.
Echoes book 1
Berlin, 1943. An encounter with an old friend leaves German physicist Dr. Kristopher Lehrer with doubts about his work. But when he confronts his superior, everything goes horribly wrong. Suddenly Kristopher and Michel, a member of the Resistance, are on the run, hunted for treason and a murder they did not commit. If they’re caught, Kristopher’s knowledge could be used to build a terrible weapon that could win the war.
When Michel contacts the Allies, hoping they can work together, it isn’t long before the so-called “simple” mission becomes anything but. With both men realizing they can no longer ignore their growing feelings for each other, Kristopher and Michel must fight—not just for a chance of a future together, but for their very survival.
Echoes book 2 - Sequel to Shadowboxing
With Kristopher finally fit enough to travel, he and Michel leave the security of their safe house and continue their journey across Germany toward Switzerland. Caught in a series of Allied bombings, they stop to help civilians and narrowly escape capture by German forces.
While investigating a downed aircraft in the Black Forest, the two men discover an injured RAF pilot. After they are separated, Kristopher and the pilot are discovered by a German officer who claims he is not who he appears to be. Determined to find Michel again, Kristopher has to trust the stranger and hope he is not connected to those searching for him and the information he carries. Meanwhile Michel is intercepted by one of the Allied soldiers he met in Berlin. His help is needed to save one of their own.
Time quickly runs out. Loyalties are tested and betrayed as the Gestapo closes in. Michel can only hope that they can reach safety before information is revealed that could compromise not only his and Kristopher’s lives, but those of the remaining members of their team—if it is not already too late.
On Wings of Song
Jochen Weber and Aiden Foster are two soldiers fighting on opposite sides. Although their meeting during an unexpected Christmas truce is brief, six years later Jochen still finds himself thinking about Aiden, their shared conversation and Aiden’s beautiful singing voice. A visit to London gives Jochen the opportunity to find Aiden but he’s shocked at what he finds.
The button Jochen gave him is the only thing Aiden has left of the past he’s lost. The war and its aftermath ripped everything away from him he held dear, including his family and his music. When Jochen reappears in his life, Aiden enjoys their growing friendship but knows he has nothing to offer. Not anymore.
Can they find the courage to admit their feelings for each other, and build a life together?
Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing "discussion," and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.
In 2008 she 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.