Thursday, January 22, 2015

"You're still very handsome. You make me sick."

 Wherein Jack answers a question

 Emily Ann Putzke, Author of It Took a War, asked if I would share some of my research poccess.

 When I started the book the extent of my research was the story which inspired it - While Mortals Sleep - The Great Escape, and a movie called Into the White. Everything else I needed I goggled as I wrote. 

 This worked for the rough draft. I even sent it in to have it picked apart in the historical area and it passed. But I knew when I went back over for the second edit I wanted more research done. This lead me to hunting down every WWII story I could get my hands on.

 At first I found nothing.

 Lately I've hit the jackpot.

 Most of my research pile came from my friend Phil, who had all kinds of suggestions.

 At this moment - not RIGHT now, I'm writing this post after all - I am working my way through the mini-series, Band of Brothers. Of course, I probably shouldn't count this as research as most of the "research" part of it has been shouting ROE! WINTERS! NIX! EPIC SPEARS! and SARGE TEA! At Phil. And let's not forget to mention the only two Americans in my book are stuck in a basement during the time period Band of Brothers is set. Still, it's WWII, I've been meaning to watch it, and Phil has been meaning to re-watch it. Might as well count it as research, right?

 Besides Band of Brothers, I have gone on raids through my library, combing the shelves for WWII biographies.I have already read Unbroken and Devil at my Heels, which again make little contention in my story as it is set in Germany and not the Pacific. I don't regret reading them though.

 My biggest problem has been finding books on the resistance in Germany. While Mortals Sleep has a little of it, but since the main character isn't Jewish it is hard to see the resistance from a Jew's view point. I know there is at least one book at the library but Warren - the name I have given my book thief - got to it before me. Now I just have to wait, and wait, and wait till he brings it back. I have been reading a book called Behind Enemy Lines about a French Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany. While that one has been giving me information, she didn't work with the resistance either.

 Most of what I've found is about the Americans role in the war. The Monuments Men, Moonless Night, and Freedom Flyers. (Books I haven't started yet but hope to next month.) Moonless Night I am more planning on reading just for fun. It is the true story of Jimmy James, one of the men who took part in The Great Escape. The other two books are for research as Japhet and Franz's sisters help smuggle out and save art and Freedom Flyers is about the Tuskegee Airmen.

 I did find a book called A Higher Call, which Phil and I are reading together. This book is about a German pilot, but like the others, doesn't really count as research because I have no German pilots in my story.

 The other day I picked up three fiction books. Besides While Mortals Sleep I've been trying to avoid fiction. I am sure the Authors put a lot of research into their books, but I never know how much I can trust fiction. While I read them for research I always end up fact checking everything as I go, which takes a lot of extra time.

 I guess the above statement isn't completely true though. I did read a book called Violins in Autumn, a fiction story of a girl who went into France a spy The story gave me the idea for Jimmy's sister.

 I did manage to add a list of movies to my growing pile of books. Besides The Great Escape, I plan to watch Into the White again, The Monument's Men, Red Tails, Defiance - which is a good movie it just has language and about two skippable scenes - and even The Book Thief. (I stop The Book Thief before the very end. Naughty of me, but I can do it because I saw the very end once and that was enough.)

 Since this is my first serious historical fiction I want to get every historical fact in the book accurate. I'm sure there are easier methods to go about this. Buried under piles of books which only make small connections to mine might not be the shortest route to my goal. But now that I've begun studying and researching it is hard to stop. And I suppose this method is more accurate than goggling everything as I write. At least I hope so.

 So that is, hopefully, the answer to Emily's question.

 That is all I have. Right now. Added a new chapter to Brothers-in-Arms today and now I have to go slam some doors.

 Quote is from Unbroken, Louie trying to comfort a man who has been shot.




  1. This is an awesome post!!!

    You know, I read a really cool book for school (don't let the fact that it's for school dissuade you) on WWII, that you could give a looksee. It's called Parallel Journeys by Eleanor H. Ayer with Helen Waterford and Alfons Heck. It's a true story, and it follows Helen's experience as a Jew in Amsterdam and Alfons's experience as a member of the Hitler Youth. It was a SUPER interesting read, especially Alfons's story, as we don't often get the side of the Nazis, especially the Hitler Youth. Anyway. Yeah. That was a good one.

  2. You might want to check out Dietrich Bonheoffer for information on the resistance within Germany. He was Christian, not Jewish, but you might find some general info to help you. A huge biography about him came out a few years ago (I think the author's name is Max Metexas?).

  3. Thank you so much for writing this, Jack! I love seeing how other historical fiction writer's research their novels. And, I love that quote from Unbroken. I can't wait until that movie comes out on DVD!!!

  4. I am very intrigued about this book. Sounds like it's been a lot of work! (Love Band of Brothers).

    You might want to check out the author Stephen Ambrose. I haven't read any of his WW2 stuff, but I've read Undaunted Courage (Lewis and Clark) and Citizen Soldiers (WW1), and he wrote the book "Band of Brothers" that the miniseries is based on. He's a great historical fiction author, and not terribly dry to read.

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