Please welcome special guests, Cara Putnam, Patty Smith Hall, Sarah Sundin and Murray Pura:
What drew you to write about Pearl Harbor/WWII?
Patty: My daughters. When the movie Pearl Harbor came out, both my girls were fascinated by the history of that era, and as a history buff, I wanted them to know how women played a part in the war effort. It was when I was looking through a book on women’s roles in the war that I found a small paragraph on girl pilots. From that moment on, I was hooked!
Cara: I’ve long been fascinated by WWII. As I began to research, though, I became engrossed with discovering homefront stories. Those events that happened here in the United States. In Canteen Dreams, I retold the story of the North Platte Canteen. That effort started two weeks after Pearl Harbor and lasted through April 1946. So Pearl Harbor was a key element of the story. It truly galvanized the country and shook many out of their complacency. That was my first WWII novel. My eighth, Shadowed by Grace, releases January 1st, and this will be my first foray into Europe, but the goal is the same. To bring the history of WWII to life through the power of story.
Sarah: The World War II era has always appealed to me—not just the cute clothes and men in uniform, but the unity and purpose that helped the country work together. I’m also drawn to how ordinary people found the courage to do extraordinary things.
Did you have family that fought in WWII?
Patty: I actually had a second or third cousin who was on one of the battleships that was attacked at Pearl Harbor. Unfortunately, he died. My grandmother shared the write-up from the newspaper when I told her I was writing a WWII novel.
Cara: One Grandpa was assigned to the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. for most of the war. Unfortunately, he died before I knew I would be writing books set during that time period. I so wish I could have one more conversation with him about his experiences during the war. My other grandpa was the only son of a farmer. He was drafted four times, but sent home every time so he could help work the farm. He is the basis for my hero in Canteen Dreams, because I wondered what it would be like to want to serve, but not be able to since you were more valuable at home.
Sarah: My great-uncle was a Pearl Harbor survivor. We was a copilot in one of the twelve B-17s that flew into Pearl Harbor during the attack—quite a story! He went on to fly a combat tour out of Australia and then served as a B-17 squadron commander with the US Eighth Air Force in England. Also my grandfather served in the Navy as a pharmacist’s mate (medic) in the Pacific. My other grandfather was unable to serve in the military, but as a professor of German, he helped train American spies.
What was the most interesting fact you discovered during your research for this book?
Patty: While I was researching Hearts in Flight, I met a gentleman who flew bombing missions on D-Day who had been trained by one of the girl pilots. That and the fact that the women served as target practice for the ground to air mission strikes surprised me.
The fact that interested me the most in my research of Hearts in Hiding was the number of Germans in this country who tried to push their children into fighting for Hitler. There was even a pro-German organization that helped parents convince their children to return to the Fatherland.
Cara: In Shadowed by Grace I researched the Monuments Men and their unique role in saving Western Civilization. Since WWII was the first war with wide-spread aerial bombardment, European and American art experts quickly realized they needed a strategy to try to save the grand cathedrals and other buildings. Then they realized art was disappearing into Nazi Germany and knew they’d need a strategy for reclaiming the lost art, too. I found the work of these soldiers who weren’t really soldiers fascinating. Then the heroine is a war photojournalist, so I researched the women who filled those jobs. Everything from their dress to how they worked in the field had to be explored. It’s a good thing I love history and getting the details right!
Sarah: So many! On Distant Shores follows a flight nurse and an Army pharmacist in the campaign in Sicily and Italy—professions and settings not explored much in fiction. As a pharmacist myself, I was stunned to learn that pharmacists, who had college degrees, were enlisted men in the Army, while other professionals with college degrees were commissioned officers. Even nurses, who had three years’ training, but not degrees, served as officers. The pharmacy profession battled for an officer corps during the war. Since enlisted men and officers weren’t allowed to fraternize, an Army pharmacist and a nurse wouldn’t be allowed to date…and there was my story inspiration.I think I pick a different person each time I answer this question. Today I’ll choose Ernie Pyle, a columnist who reported from the front in the Mediterranean (and other locations). He wrote eloquently about high-level generals and the privates in the trenches with great respect, humor, and humanity. His genuine admiration for the common man with all his quirks shines in his writing, and he was genuinely liked by all who met him. I’m sure he’d be fascinating company.
If you could spend a day with one person from the WWII era, who would it be? Why?
Patty: I would want to meet the group of nurses who followed the boys onto the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. Not much is known about them--I found out about them when I visited the Florence Nightingale Museum in London this summer--but these brave women followed our troops through the Battle of the Bugle and VE Day to the death camps in Germany.
Cara: This is a great question and one that is hard to answer. So many people played important roles. I think I’d lean toward a conversation with Ernie Pyle or Andy Rooney. Their experiences as reporters covering the war would be intriguing to hear first hand.
Sarah: I think I pick a different person each time I answer this question. Today I’ll choose Ernie Pyle, a columnist who reported from the front in the Mediterranean (and other locations). He wrote eloquently about high-level generals and the privates in the trenches with great respect, humor, and humanity. His genuine admiration for the common man with all his quirks shines in his writing, and he was genuinely liked by all who met him. I’m sure he’d be fascinating company.
Did you learn any fun 'expressions' or phrases from that era?
Patty: Not really, but I did fall in love with the music and movies from that time!
Cara: I watch a lot of classic movies from the 30s and 40s. You’ll often see me with a notepad jotting down expressions they use. At the moment I can’t think of one in particular, but I’ll watch those movies to get the vernacular of the time in my head.
Sarah: I’ve been researching WWII for a dozen years now, so sometimes the line blurs for me. I’ve been known to say “swell” in normal conversation. My friends know I’m weird so it’s okay. In On Distant Shores, my hero ends up serving in one of the hospitals at Nettuno on the Anzio beachhead, which were shelled constantly by the Germans. The hospital personnel learned to walk in the “Anzio shuffle”—a low duck walk to avoid losing your head to a shell. And they all half-jokingly talked about developing “Anzio Anxiety” and “Nettuno Neurosis.”
Thank you all so much for sharing about this important time in U.S. History!
"I'm Here to See My Daughter."
She never thought she'd see John Davenport again. Merrilee Daniels Davenport's former husband has returned to their small Georgia town after fighting in the Pacific. And now the soldier is bearing a letter from the little girl he didn't know he had. Merrilee wishes that she and her daughter could lean on John's able shoulders, but her new assignment as a homeland informant won't allow it.
Twelve years have only made Merrilee more beautiful in John's eyes. Back then, he was the proud fool who walked away. Now all he wants is to prove he can be the husband she deserves, and the daddy his daughter needs.
Lt. Georgiana Taylor has everything she could want. A comfortable boyfriend back home, a loving family, and a challenging job as a flight nurse. But in July 1943, Georgie's cozy life gets decidedly more complicated when she meets pharmacist Sgt. John Hutchinson. Hutch resents the lack of respect he gets as a noncommissioned serviceman and hates how the war keeps him from his fiancée. While Georgie and Hutch share a love of the starry night skies over Sicily, their lives back home are falling apart. Can they weather the hurt and betrayal? Or will the pressures of war destroy the fragile connection they've made?
The year is 1941 and Jude and Lyyndy, with their adult daughter, Rebecca, are summoned to far-off, exotic Honolulu where Rebecca, a flyer like her father, meets a likeable young pilot. The two enjoy a friendship that seems to be turning into something more serious…..until Sunday, December 7, 1941 dawns on the Hawaiian Islands.
Best Selling Author Murray Pura was unable to join us for the interview as he is out of the country at this time, however he has generously offered an autographed copy of his book to one commenter.
Rachel Justice is desperate to save her dying mother. She doesn’t want to leave her, but she accepts her newspaper’s assignment to travel to Italy and photograph war images. No one knows her photography is a cover and that Rachel is really seeking to find the father she never knew, hopeful to get some help with her failing mother. Dedicated to her mission, Rachel is focused on completing it. Soon, though, she finds her priorities and plans changing when she is assigned to Lt. Scott Lindstrom, on mission as a Monument Man. Their meeting will have far-reaching consequences. Will this derail her plans? Will she ever find her father? Is her faith enough to carry her through?
About the Authors: