Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Interview with writer David L. Faucheux

Writer David L. Faucheux is here with me to chat about his memoir, Across Two Novembers: A Year in the Life of a Blind Bibliophile.

During his virtual book tour, David will be awarding a library edition audio book (US only) to a lucky randomly drawn winner, or if an international winner, a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card (winner’s choice). To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit his other tour stops and enter there, too!

Welcome, David. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m pleased to take a moment to talk about myself and what makes me tick. I’d have to say books, books, and more books. Let me explain. Braille and recorded books take me places and show me things I would otherwise never get to encounter. They see for me by their descriptions, their vivid word pictures, and lyrical prose. They befriend me when I'm lonely, educate me when I'm curious, and amuse me when I'm in a blue mood. I have always known I could pick up a book and for a time be in a better or at least A different place. Books don't judge, ignore, or marginalize us. I remember long, hot, Louisiana summers that were perfect for curling up with a good book. I have had to struggle some nights to put the book away because I’d not be able to get up for work the next morning. That’s being a bit too biblioholic.

I have worked as a medical transcriptionist and braille instructor. I attended library school in the late 1990s when the Internet was starting to take off. I ran an audio blog for several years. I have also served on the board of a nonprofit organization that attempted to start a radio reading service in the town where I live. Since 2006, I have reviewed audio books for Library Journal.

Please share a little bit about your current release.
This bit is from the CreateSpace blurb. I think it sums things up rather nicely.
“Friends and family. Restaurants and recipes. Hobbies and history. TV programs the author loved when he could still see and music he enjoys. The schools he attended and the two degrees he attained. The career that eluded him and the physical problems that challenge him. And books, books, books: over 200 of them quoted from or reviewed. All In all, an astonishing work of erudition and remembrance.”

What inspired you to write this book?
I wanted to be heard; I have long felt invisible. I was at a place in my life where several career options simply collapsed. I had no idea what to do next. A friend asked me to review something she had written. I did and thought, ‘I think I could write a journal.’ So I dove in and did.

Excerpt from Across Two Novembers:

More than at any other time, when I hold a beloved book in my hand, my limitations fall from me, my spirit is free.
—Helen Keller (1880–1968)

I have long wanted to write and publish something, be it an historic novel, a young adult novel, or nonfiction. When, in November 2013, Dr. Katherine Schneider asked me to read and review her just–published Occupying Aging, I conquered my usual reservations: Would I be a good reviewer? Would I be able to write something interesting and help her book sales? I dove in and came up with this review, which appeared on
This book, with its mixture of the quotidian and sublime, stands as an interesting glimpse into the life of one early 21st–century woman. Schneider, a retired psychologist, recounts a year of thoughts and events in this journal. Her ruminations on death, spirituality, dogs, and navigating the landscape of the sighted as a totally blind inhabitant of her Wisconsin college town are enlightening. Touches of humor involving Fran, her Seeing Eye® dog, add a sense of fun.

As someone who is acquainted with Dr. Schneider (we have exchanged emails), I could wish I occupied my 40s quite as well as she does her 60s. The proactive attempts to educate about disability issues, the volunteering, and the public speaking are outstanding. Maybe some of her enthusiasm for life will rub off on all her readers.—An excellent vade mecum, a handbook, for handling the uncertainties of retirement.

While reading her book and formulating my review, I thought, Oh! I just might be able to write something in this journal–type format. So I jumped in right then, not waiting to begin on the more traditional January 1. I thought that to wait was to postpone indefinitely and fail; to start could mean a chance at a successful resolution. Who says a journal has to run from January 1 to December 31 to be of interest?

So, everyone, here goes nothing!

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am in an in-between time. I am trying to promote this book and figure out where my writing career wants to take me. Will I write a nonfiction book about an ancestor? Will I try to write a short story collection?

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’m not sure I consider myself a writer. I concede that I may have writing ability. I don’t feel compelled to write. I more feel compelled to read. But I thought I should try to write, too; just a bit. Oh, as a child, I did rather like the idea of being this exotic creature known as “a writer.” But I had no idea w hat such a career involved.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I try to write several hours a day. I can’t write more than that because of the Fibromyalgia Syndrome that nips at my heels like a stray dog that just won’t go home. If I try to write longer, I get so befuddled. This caused some problems in the editing of my book. I kept finding better ways to say things and it drove my long-suffering editor crazy.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I am hung-up on grammar. I need to just fling the words onto the page, or type them into a computer file and not worry about any punctuation or spelling -- Just plop a word-mess right there, no grammar or style litter boxes. Like Jackson Pollock painted! Drip … splat … splot. The novel as abstract expressionistic art.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
This is a hard one. Being blind, I had no real role models. I had no idea what to be. Even in college, I had no idea what to major in. I tried Spanish as I thought being an interpreter would be rather fun. I didn’t have the knack for this language, having only had a year or so in high school. I never got past its rapid staccato sound. So I changed my major to English (linguistics option) with a Spanish minor. A very unsympathetic professor destroyed my interest in pursuing linguistics at the graduate level. I literally came to a screeching halt after college. It was not a good time. I managed to get a job teaching braille for a time and also did medical transcription for a time, but neither worked out well.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Yes, and I appreciate this opportunity and your thoughtfulness.

I’d like to answer the question – If you had the talent and resources to research and write any kind of book, what would you write or if you – as an editor – could commission any kind of book, what would it be?

I have several ideas for books though I suspect the fiction options are beyond my skills and would have to be commissioned. I suspect long historic fiction is out of favor with the reading public of today. Alas.

1. Empress Eugenie: She was just as interesting as Empress Elizabeth of Hapsburg or Queen Victoria, two of her contemporaries. But I find no writer today, writer in English, who has done anything with her, be it a fictionalized biography, or even a straight memoir or biography. If French writers have written about her, I have not located the translations. She has not been written about for the young adult set though there is a series of books for younger readers that feature a young Queen Elizabeth I and other young royals, some written by Carolyn Meyer. Eugenie lived at a particularly interesting time and reigned over the circus that was the empire of the third Napoleon. It all came tumbling down in 1871 and she later lost her son in a hunting accident in South Africa. She lived until 1920. Surely, if Marie Antoinette rates, Eugenie should. Margaret George could have written the story. She did Henry VIII, Mary Queen of Scotts, Queen Elizabeth I, Helen of Troy, Cleopatra, and Nero. If I could, I would have.

2. Inca: Gary Jennings wrote Aztec. (Actually, there were several follow-up books to his Aztec, but it was Aztec that was outstanding, the others were possibly written at the suggestion of an editor to hopefully cash in on Aztec’s success. I always hoped he would have lived long enough to write Inca to do for that group of South American natives what Aztec did for Mexico.

3. Short story collection about my days at a residential school for the blind: I could possibly do this with some guidance. This type of school is rapidly fading from popularity. Most blind children today are mainstreamed into public schools. In the 1970s, this was not always true.
4. Isabella Mora: She is an ancestor of mine. She came here to Louisiana in 1779, about age 10, with her Canary Island family. I found her story interesting because two of her descendants married and we think caused the eye condition in our family. Also, exploring her life in Spanish Louisiana would be interesting because few people recall Louisiana was Spanish for a time, not just French.

5. Wahl Diet: I’d like to go to a diet boot camp and attempt this diet. The author, a Dr. Wahl, developed it and it cured her MS or made it more manageable. But it’s a very hard diet, kinda like paleo. I’d be curious to see if it might help my Fibromyalgia Syndrome. I think it’d be a neat book or at least major article. I’d want to put it to the test. Takes money to go to see any doctor like that.

6. MFA in Gastronomy: Books have been written about the author’s time at business school, Snapshots from Hell, or in law school, One L: The Turbulent True Story … And now we need a book describing a class beginning its time at Boston University to obtain an MFA in Gastronomy. Seems such a unique degree, rather new, developed by Julia Child and Jacques Pépin.

Well, enough said. I am running on.

So many ideas to work with!

Website | TV interview | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Apple

Thank you for being a guest on my blog, David!

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Interview with novelist and poet Antonio J. Hopson

Writer Antonio J. Hopson joins me today to talk about Nefarious, it has a bit of adventure, literary fiction, contemporary, and humor.

Antonio J. Hopson is a fiction writer, poet, teacher, and father. He graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in environmental science, and is a biology teacher at Lakeside Middle School in Seattle. He has always had a love of writing, poetry in particular. His works of poetry, speculative fiction, flash fiction, and essays have appeared in numerous publications, and he was a 2016 Pushcart Nominee. He has also been the recipient of a Reader’s Choice Award from Farmhouse Magazine and was an EPIC e-book Award finalist. Antonio is the author of numerous short stories, several novels, and a collection of poetry, Seven, which was published in 2016 and spent three weeks at #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases.

When he isn’t writing, he likes to spend his free time painting, cooking, playing ping pong, and scuba diving in the cold waters off Puget Sound. He also enjoys taking road trips and camping with his two sons in their 57 Security trailer. He was born and raised in South Seattle and now lives north of the city in Shoreline, WA. 

Welcome, Antonio. Please tell us about your current release.
Max Rigby is a middle-aged, aloof writer stuck in the past when he falls in love with the pit-girl from S/V Nefarious, a sailing vessel that lives up to its name. The woman who has awakened his heart is the fleet's most fierce sailor, Robin Mac Bradaigh, aka "Mac", a young, fiery, unapologetic sailor who refuses to be pushed around by a fleet of scoundrels. But Nefarious carries a dark reputation, and Max soon finds himself caught up in a sailing race that is as dangerous as it is thrilling. Unburdened by the necessities of polite society, the sailors aboard Nefarious are forced to defend their title during Race Week, a rowdy and rough competition in the Salish Sea. The devil himself has stakes in the race, and he must keep his skipper, Dan Swardstrom from distractions: the mysterious pregnancy of his fiancée, a hung-over crew that keeps blowing their starts, and a mutiny led by the pit-girl. During the race, the devil has been forced to live the life of a mortal and can only sail for Nefarious. He desires the Race Week trophy, centerpiece to a hedonistic party that requires animal sacrifice

What inspired you to write this book?
In a word: sailing. Racing, in particular. It is a unique way of life that not many of us have access to. I found myself fortunate enough to join a crew, and instantly I was caught up in the drama.

Excerpt from Nefarious:

For no good reason, people tended to become a friend or a foe of Dan Swardstrom. He was not particularly benevolent, nor was he physically or intellectually intimidating, but there was something chancy about him. Perhaps it was the crookedness of his smile, the boyish, cocksure gleam in his mercury eyes, the way he positioned his body while sailing as if he were about to take a punch on the chin, or the way he somehow, through no fault of his own, ended up with your girlfriend sitting on his lap at the end of a party.

Despite his modest demeanor, Dan Swardstrom stood out among his peers; a consummate gentleman among pirates, assholes, vandals and picaroons–words that accurately describe every one of his friends. His wintery hair and smart, mercurial eyes were deceiving. Your only warning of what he was truly capable of lay just below his right eye where a broken halyard once lashed out and left him with a compelling story to tell over a drink. When he smiled from the other side of a bottle of rum, the little scar frowned at you.

Today, he proudly steered his race boat through picturesque Lake Union, a Farr 30–a class of sailboat well regarded in the Seattle fleet. It was sleek and fast, designed to carve through water as smoothly as a Ferrari devours blacktop on a racecourse. The wind was at his back, blowing his thinning hair out in front of him, obscuring a fresh, excited face. Only a few scattered cumulous clouds speckled the sky. The sun was out, and the day was young.

“Sir, I need you to kill your engine!”

Harbor 1, the Marine Patrol unit that operates a 37-foot, cabin cruiser with twin diesel engines patrols the busy waters of Lake Union. It was called to the area to intercept a party boat, but what the captain found instead was S/V Nefarious; its sails stowed, motoring speciously along the cut at an easy pace. No wake. Five knots, not fast enough to disturb the charming houseboats or the posh, floating restaurants with diners enjoying an early lunch. Why would a broken dock be tied to the hull of a sailboat? The captain put away his binoculars and picked up his bullhorn.

“Sir, did you know...”

“Yes,” Dan said, nodding at the flotsam. “It’s mine. My bowman neglected to untie us, and my crew didn’t notice it until you started tailing us.”

“Well, that solves one of our problems.”

“Problem two?”

The captain motioned his pilot to close the distance.

“Have you been drinking, skipper?”

“Most definitely,” Dan said. “Problem three?”

Harbor 1 drifted closer and the captain was not amused by the smirk on the skipper’s face: a handsome face with a neatly trimmed, silver beard stuck to it. He set down his bullhorn and turned off his flashing lights.

“A woman reported that someone on your vessel yelled ‘hot soup’ and then emptied a bucket of urine overboard onto her kayak.”

Dan scratched his beard.

“Yes, that’s true,” he said, “but, to be fair, she did not give me right of way while approaching my vessel.”

The crew was quiet, like refugees caught in the night, and it was a miracle that they resisted the urge to sip their beers or drink from the lucky bottle of rum.

“Isn’t your vessel equipped with a head?”

“Let me ask you this,” Dan said. “Would you ask the owner of a Ferrari if there was a commode under the seat?”

The captain boarded Nefarious. When he stepped on a beer can, he sneered. This was unsafe. This was sloppy yachting. He removed a fresh citation from his pocket and looked hard at the refugees as they pretended to be sober.

“Skipper,” he said while scratching his pen on the citation. “What is the destination of this vessel?”

“Race Week,” Dan said.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am completing a book of poetry for Anaphora Press. At the moment it’s titled, “The Cartographer”. I enjoy writing poems that come from the heart, a complicated organ. I attempt to map its complexities and nuances using some of experience as a sentimental man.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I first thought of myself as a writer when CJ, a high school friend, proposed that we write a play. We worked on it all summer and the next year it was selected by our drama department as the spring performance. We knew that we would be playing the main characters, so, of course we wrote in as many kissing scenes as we could get away with. Lol.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I only write full time in the summer. During the rest of the year I am a biology teacher.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
This is a fun question. I would say that in every story I MUST include some type of “magic”, or surrealism, that can’t be explained by the main character. There is nothing worst (or more uninteresting) for me than reading a book where the author explains the monster away, or the magic, or any situation that has a mystic feel to it. I think you can detect this in all my books. In real life I want Bigfoot to exist, but the facts add up against it. In fiction, it doesn’t have to, now does it?

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I totally wanted to be an astronaut. I’m still a space cadet.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I’d like to thank them for their support—especially if they are willing to take a chance on a writer who works through an independent press like Anaphora. The extreme bottleneck that happens with establishment presses means that 99.9 percent of authors are doomed to a slush pile, aka, junk pile. Many agents and editors are blinded a narrow definition of what they think is a worthy MS. Just sayin’!


Thanks for being here today, Antonio.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Interview with novelist Young-Im Lee

Novelist Young-Im Lee joins me today and we’re chatting about her historical thriller, Forgotten Reflections.

Young-Im Lee was born in Mokpo, South Korea and relocated to Manila, Philippines at the age of one where she grew up in an international setting. She graduated with a BA in English Language and Literature from Seoul National University, and a MA in English Literary Studies from the University of York (UK). She currently resides in Seoul, South Korea.

Welcome, Young-Im. What inspired you to write this book?
This story is inspired by an actual event in my grandmother’s life. At around the age of seven, my grandmother stumbled on an underground bunker at her school where she found a particularly white sheet of paper. Without knowing the contents of the page, she had taken that peculiar sheet home. Her brother later discovered it to be a communist pamphlet and contacted the authorities, leading to the arrest and execution of over thirty communists, including my grandmother’s own teacher. For years after, my grandmother’s brother was on the run from family members of those executed that day.

Pieces of the plot have also been taken from my experience translating for U.S. and Filipino veterans of the Korean War who were visiting South Korea at the time. The little boy “Zion” in the story is dedicated to one Filipino soldier who had come back to Korea in search of a Korean boy who had been his “errand boy.” At the time, no newspaper or journalist was interested in an interview with a Filipino soldier. I am indebted to these nameless soldiers.

Excerpt from Forgotten Reflections:

Still to this day, the bright lights blind me. I often forget that there had once been a time when the only bright lights in this beautiful city were the bombs that blanketed the stars with ash and decimated the very ground I stand on. I rarely ever think of our brotherland still plunged in darkness just beyond the lights.
There are no landmarks to tell us what had happened other than a cemetery and museums that come in vogue once a year—a true testament of how our people tried our very best to forget the problems we cannot fix, as if the war isn’t still ongoing, marching to the rhythm of progress made in the past sixty years to eradicate all memories of our most recent trauma.
Make no mistake; the han still burns within us. We are reminded every so often of this unique brand of injustice by the rise in international tension from our non-compliant North Korean neighbors, only to momentarily reflect upon our past and relinquish our reflections as phantoms of a past that we hope will never return.
I miss my grandmother Iseul; I miss my grandfather with a deeper longing of never having known. Still, the bright lights taunt me; they command that I march forward, remember what must not be forgotten, lay to rest that which haunts us, and invent—imagine even—a world we must fight to create.
I promise, I will not forget.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I don’t know if I’ve ever considered myself a writer, although I remember feeling like I could become one when my first essay was published in a book.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I am an English teacher here in Korea and feel very lucky to be a part of a child’s formative years! It is a pleasure to see the world as they see it, full of charm and optimism. My students have been my source of inspiration and a part of me writes for them because I know the struggles they will face in the coming years. I am very fortunate that I get to choose my working hours and the number of students I can take on, which has given me the time and space to get into the writing process.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m not sure if this is considered a quirk, but I am certainly a slow writer. Most of my writing is done is my head, meaning I spend a lot of time thinking of specific scenes and moments. Writing it down is just one part of the process where I try to connect these moments into a fluid narrative. If you watch me “write,” you’d likely see me on my bed with my eyes closed, or with a book in my hand or a movie playing in the background.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I grew up in the Philippines around the time pop was beginning to get very popular all over Southeast Asia. I remember singing and dancing to some of these songs, dreaming of being on stage. Now, being on stage terrifies me! Most of all, I remember being so enthralled with stories of all kind, including dramas, Hollywood films and American TV shows. I never thought writing a story could be someone’s job! I think I might have wanted to be a writer had I known.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I love connecting with readers. It has been a pleasure to get to know people from all over the world. Please feel free to connect with me through my social media sites. Most of all, I’d like to leave you with an encouragement to keep writing and to keep striving to create the world you want to be a part of.

Website | Amazon | Goodreads | Facebook

Thanks for being here today, Young-Im.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Guest post by Rohase Piercy - new story on the Sherlock/Watson partnership

Today I have a special guest post by Rohase Piercy with Charlie Raven focused on A Case of Domestic Pilfering. It's a story that presents Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson through the eyes of another couple, Guy Clements and Max Fareham, with whom they become embroiled through a series of misunderstandings.

Rohase Piercy was born in London in 1958 and now lives in Brighton with her husband Leslie, dog Spike and a small flock of racing pigeons. She has two grown-up daughters.
Rohase enjoys exploring alternative perspectives in her writing, taking a well-known scenario, partnership or sequence of events and presenting it from an unfamiliar point of view. There’s always another story waiting to be told. 

Rohase has written a series of 3 articles for her GoodReads blog about the ‘decadent’ angle of Sherlock Holmes, his relationship with Watson, and how the characters have been portrayed in the media. 

A Tale of Two Stories
by Rohase Piercy

Picture the scene: it's 1987, Centenary Year of the publication of the very first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet. Jeremy Brett is camping it up as Sherlock on the Granada TV series, the bookshops are full of Holmes memorabilia, shiny new editions, pastiches, scholarly discussions of the 'Holmes Phemomenon' etc … and two friends, Rohase Piercy and Charlie Raven, are reading the stories for the very first time and quickly becoming obsessed. What we are becoming obsessed by, however, is not so much the great detective's extraordinary powers of observation and deduction as the relationship between Holmes and his faithful sidekick Dr Watson, with its very obvious (to us, at least!) homoerotic subtext. 'His cold fingers closed around my wrist' … 'He drew me back into the shadows … the fingers which clutched me were quivering' … why were post-Freudian commentaries not brimming over with observation and deduction about this?

Fast-forward a year, and the answer was being made abundantly clear. 'Write the story you'd love to read' - isn't that standard advice? We'd both done just that, and Rohase's story My Dearest Holmes had just been published by the Gay Men's Press. 'Sherlock Homo!' screamed The Sun; 'He's gay in new book!' 'So dangerous, this urge to update the past', lamented A N Wilson in The Daily Mail. 'Just because two chaps share digs, doesn't mean they're queer!' expostulated Captain Bill Mitchell, Secretary of the Sherlock Holmes Society. Interesting a publisher in a second Holmes/Watson romance was not going to be as easy as we'd hoped ...

And so Charlie's story was put into cold storage for nigh-on thirty years, until the sea-change in public perception of the Holmes/Watson relationship facilitated by Guy Ritchie's two 'bromance' films and the bucketloads of innuendo that laced the BBC series Sherlock encouraged Rohase to retrieve the old mildewed typescript from a bottom draw and commit it to Dropbox, editing and slightly re-shaping it in the process. A few months ago, a mere generation later than its twin, A Case of Domestic Pilfering was finally unveiled to the reading public. Care to give it a try?

Links (Amazon UK):

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Interview historical novelist C.F. Yetmen

Novelist C.F. Yetmen joins me today and we’re chatting about her new historical fiction, What Is Forgiven.

C.F. Yetmen is the author of The Roses Underneath, which received the 2015 IPPY Gold Medal for Historical Fiction, was named a 2014 Notable Indie Book by the Shelf Unbound Writing Competition, and was a 2014 Finalist in the Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards. She lives and works in Austin, Texas.

Welcome, C.F. Please tell us about your current release.
What Is Forgiven is the second book in the Anna Klein trilogy, which began with The Roses Underneath. Anna has been working with the Monuments Men for a few months and continues to struggle to put her life back together. In this book, she confronts the Holocaust and her complicity, as a German citizen, in the atrocities the Nazis committed. Because the Nazis stole the property of Jewish collectors, the art now under the Americans’ control must be restituted. But she learns that when the stakes are this high, people rationalize their greed and crimes to protect themselves, their reputations, and their loved ones.

What inspired you to write this book?
The book is inspired by the circumstances of the German half of my family at the end of World War II. Although no one worked with the Monuments Men, my grandmother, who was displaced, along with her mother and my mother, then five years old – was lucky enough to get a job working for the American Occupation Forces, which changed her life. Many of the Monuments Men were architects, which interested me because of my work as an architectural writer. Those two ideas collided and created the premise for this series.

Excerpt from What Is Forgiven:

The man’s pale face was cracked, the scars of his ordeal revealed under the ribbon of sunlight streaming through the dirty window. Just under his chin, a ridge of pink paint hinted at the jowls that told his age, but the same paint gave a youthful rosiness to his cheek. He looked at Anna with near-black eyes, his expression defiant and expectant, as if they were engaged in conversation and it was her turn to reply. A light warping torqued the canvas in its frame and a small tear was visible at one corner, but it was nothing that wasn’t fixable. Anna lowered her face toward the painting as it rested on the swatch of cloth the conservators used to protect the precious inventory, and when she was sure no one was looking, she ran her hand across the rough paint, feeling its texture on her fingertips. She knew she shouldn’t touch it, even with gloves, but the temptation was too great. The familiar sounds of army boots squeaking on the waxed floors and the low rumble of American voices continued in the near background, and the sun illuminated the dust in the air. She inhaled the distant oily scent and exhaled it for a long time, sending a cloud of tiny particles swirling toward the ceiling. She considered what the Man in a Green Jacket had endured in order to arrive here, into her care. Months in a damp cellar wrapped in bed sheets alongside a few dozen of his fellow travelers had not diminished the gleam in his eyes nor weakened the set of his shoulders. It was a painting that told of another time. What would the man say, if he could speak?
“Let’s get you back home,” she said. “You’ve been very patient.” She turned the painting over on the work table, which was really just one of the old oversized doors from the back of the building balanced on a pair of smaller folding tables.
She was so engrossed in reading the gallery and exhibition labels on the back of the painting that she didn’t notice Cooper step into the workroom.
“Frau Klein? Can you speed this along, please?” He stood in the half-open door, rolling the sleeve of his uniform down his arm. “The new hire will be here soon. Let’s meet up in my office.” Captain Henry Cooper was her immediate superior—she his translator and assistant, he an architect assigned to safeguard Germany’s damaged monuments and restitute its stolen art for the Monuments Men unit Anna had fallen into a job with. It was no small task, for sure, and one made all the more interesting by Cooper’s penchant for ignoring the military’s protocols.
“I’m almost done here.” She turned back to her work, adjusting the table lamp to get a better look at the hodgepodge of stamps, labels, and numbers that told the painting’s story. Anna knew by now the familiar stencils of the ERR, the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, Hitler’s ruthless art thieving unit. She made a note of the markings on the condition report part of the long and repetitive intake form, following the established protocol. This canvas, an oil painting of a seated man looking over his left shoulder, likely belonged to the same collector as the dozens of others she had catalogued over the last few days. The Nazi cataloging stamps on the back told that it had been taken from a Jewish family in Frankfurt. Thanks to meticulous Nazi record keeping, the Americans had already made good progress on connecting the paintings with their rightful owners. The only problem, and it was a big one, was finding those owners, if they were even still alive. Of all the Jewish collectors whose paintings they had identified, the Americans had not found a single one yet.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on the final book in the trilogy I always knew there would be three in this series, because once the rebuilding of Germany took hold, the setting becomes less interesting to me, and the work of the Monuments Men became more bureaucratic. I am most interested in the chaotic time right at the end of the war. The first book takes place in August 1945, the second starts in October of that year, and the third will start in early 1946.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I always liked writing but it was never a serious career consideration for me. I worked in publishing and marketing for a long time but when my daughter was born I shifted focus to writing because I do it anytime for the day in any state of dress and hygiene. I turned in an article two weeks after she was born and thought, “This can work!” I first considered myself a writer when people began paying me a living wage to write.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
My day job is writing about architecture, so yes, I write full time. I devote the most optimal, uninterrupted hours of the day (5am-7am) to the hardest project at hand, so when I’m working on a novel, those hours are reserved for my fiction. Writing for a living has given me the discipline to sit down and gets words on paper whether I feel like it or not. It has removed the mystery of the process and revealed it for what it is: steady consistent work, even on days when it’s really, really hard. The Scrivener app’s goal-setting feature – a kind of FitBit for writing – allows you to set a deadline and a word count and then tells you every day how many words you need to write to stay on track. Once I hit the daily mark, if it’s too hard to keep going, I sign off and congratulate myself. Then get to watch Netflix totally guilt free. That made a huge difference for me.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I can't write in coffee shops or public places because I have to talk to myself while I’m writing. I didn't actually realize this until I tried to work in a café one day and caught myself talking out loud. I have written in my parked car, in clients’ offices between meetings, in empty conference rooms, on terraces with beautiful views, and on hotel bathroom floors while my family sleeps. But never in public.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Although I was always told I was a good writer, at various stages I wanted to be a flight attendant, a lawyer, fashion designer, and journalist. I didn't dare to dream of being a writer!

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I think like many writers, I spend a lot of time thinking of the words on the page and about my characters. It’s easy to forget about your readers when you are heads-down in the middle of the manuscript. But I once gave a talk to sixth grade writing students at my daughter’s school. About a year later one of the girls nervously and earnestly approached me in the parking lot to tell me how much she she liked my book. That was truly the most gratifying experiences I’ve had as a writer. You never know how your work will affect someone. I’ve met so many interesting people who have told me their own stories about the war and the aftermath, which fascinates me. Also, once I joined a book club to discuss my book and the host commissioned cookies iced with the design of my book cover. That kind of memory will keep you going through a bad 5am slog and proves that this is a pretty great job.


Thanks for being here today, C.F.!