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Researching the World War Two Story
I’ve always had a fascination for the stories of World War Two. The war is full of amazing tales of bravery and daring, of sadness and pain, and of love found and lost. I like to combine all of these elements in my stories.
When writing about any era of history, it’s important to get the details right. World War Two history is massive; it’s almost impossible to know everything. But it is possible to focus on one piece of that history and become something of an expert on it.
FLAWLESS is set in occupied France in 1942. Le Coeur Bleu, a famous and valuable blue diamond, has been stolen by the Nazis. They plan to trade the diamond for weapons that could crush the Allies. Jewel thief Hunter Smith is recruited to steal back the diamond with the help of Madeleine, a beautiful French Resistance fighter.
When I began writing Flawless, I didn’t know much about the French Resistance. I turned to my favorite sources for information; the library and the Internet. One book I read, called “Just Raoul: Adventures in the French Resistance”, told the story of the war from the perspective of a French Resistance fighter. I learned what members of the Resistance accomplished and the dangers they faced. From the Internet, I learned about the Special Operations Executive or SOE, a branch of the British government that trained spies and sent operatives into occupied European countries to learn of the enemies’ movements and to disrupt their lines of communications and transportation.
My research suggested elements of the plot. For instance, I discovered that the SOE brought spies in and out of France in small planes called Lysanders that were able to land and take off on short runways, most often in fields or pastures. Resistance members would use torches to light the make-shift runways and guide the Lysander to a safe landing. As soon as the plane was unloaded of its cargo of firearms, radios and other necessary supplies, it quickly took off. It might have had the ability to fly under the radar, but German patrols could still hear it. The Resistance fighters immediately doused the flames of the torches and dispersed. I used this information to write the scene in which Hunter arrives in France, as well as the scene of his departure.
I researched a myriad of other details on the Internet; what does a French chateau look like, how do you pick a lock, were flashlights available in the 1940s? (They were.) A Japanese puzzle box plays a crucial role in the story, and I had to research the intricate art of opening one. I did some fun research on diamonds to come up with the “curse” that Le Coeur Bleu is purported to inflict on its owners.
Research is a fascinating part of writing. It lends authenticity to a story, and helps with plotting. For a historical novel, research is an absolute essential.
FLAWLESS is on sale for .99 cents until December 17th!
More About Flawless
France, 1942. The world is at war. The Nazis have stolen the infamous blue diamond, Le Coeur Bleu, intending to barter it for weapons that will destroy the Allies. Jewel thief Hunter Smith is given a choice; help the French Resistance steal back the diamond and avenge the death of his best friend, or stay locked up in an English prison. He chooses revenge.
Resistance fighter Madeleine Bertrand’s husband died when he was betrayed by Hunter Smith. How can she now pretend to be married to the arrogant American? How can she betray Jean Philippe’s memory by her passionate response to Hunter’s kisses? Neither is prepared for the maelstrom of attraction that erupts between them. To survive they must uncover the mysteries of the past and conquer the dangers of the present. But first Madeleine must decide if her loyalties lie with her dead husband and the Resistance or with the greatest love of her life.
Hunter’s eyes snapped open, his blood pounding in his ears. “What do you know about The Blue Heart?”
“Only that it is one of the most famous and rare diamonds in the world, over 30 carats, and said to be flawless.”
Hunter rose from his cot and paced his small cell, heart racing. “Ah, finally something you don’t know. Le Coeur Bleu has a small flaw, an inclusion visible only with a jeweler’s loupe.”
Campbell inclined his head. “My mistake. I bow to your superior knowledge of the stone.”
He met Campbell’s calm stare. He doubted this man ever made mistakes. “What else do you know about the diamond?”
“I know the diamond is reputed to have magical powers. Some even say it is cursed.”
“You don’t really believe in magical powers, do you?” Hunter scoffed.
Campbell lifted one shoulder in a delicate shrug. “Perhaps, perhaps not. Do you think your friend Jean Philippe Bertrand believed in magic?”
All the air rushed out of Hunter’s lungs and he struggled to breathe. “What do you know about Jean Philippe?”
“That he came into possession of Le Coeur Bleu and was murdered for it by the Nazis.”
Hunter dropped heavily onto his cot, shock and pain turning his knees to water. Snippets of the telegram he’d received from his best friend a few weeks before his arrest flashed in his head. Need to buy Heartstone times two from Jewish refugee. Desperate. Send cash. Hunter had immediately wired JP the money to buy the Heartstone, the name by which Le Coeur Bleu was sometimes known. He never heard from Jean Philippe again. In all the months of his captivity he’d clung to the hope that Jean Philippe was safe. But now that hope was dashed.
“Dead? You’re sure?”
“Yes. The SOE is very well connected in France. I can assure you, your friend was killed for Le Coeur Bleu.”
Guilt flowed through Hunter’s veins like a poison. If he hadn’t sent the money, JP wouldn’t have had the diamond and the Nazis would have had no reason to kill him.
Campbell stepped closer to Hunter’s cot, determination glittering in his eyes. “I’m giving you the opportunity to avenge your friend’s death. Will you take it, Mr. Smith?”
“How is stealing The Blue Heart going to avenge Jean Philippe’s death? It’s just a stone, Mr. Campbell. Very pretty, very valuable, but just a rock. Is stealing it going to bring him back?”
“No, it won’t,” Campbell conceded, “but it will hurt the Nazis immensely. I can assure you that taking Le Coeur Bleu from them will reduce their capacity to fight, Mr. Smith. It may even shorten the war and provide the turning point we’re looking for. Is this not what your friend would have wanted?”
As Hunter stared into Campbell’s round face, he remembered the last stinging conversation he’d had with his friend. “If you used your God-given talents for good instead of squandering them on party tricks, perhaps you’d be a lot happier. It’s time to grow up, Hunter. For once in your life, be a man.”
Perhaps the time had finally come.
“How soon can I get out of here?”
Campbell smiled in satisfaction. “Follow me.”
About Jana Richards:
Jana Richards has tried her hand at many writing projects over the years, from magazine articles and short stories to full-length paranormal suspense and romantic comedy. She loves to create characters with a sense of humor, but also a serious side. She believes there’s nothing more interesting then peeling back the layers of a character to see what makes them tick.
When not writing up a storm, working at her day job as an Office Administrator, or dealing with ever present mountains of laundry, Jana can be found on the local golf course pursuing her newest hobby.
Jana lives in Western Canada with her husband Warren, and a highly spoiled Pug/Terrier cross named Lou. You can reach her through her website at http://www.janarichards.com
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I’m currently working on Fire Storm, Book 2 in the Gathering Storm Series