What Took so Long?

It’s been awhile since my novel TORBEN’S FOUNTAIN was published and I suppose I should have quickly followed that book up with another. But I became so intrigued by the WWII underground while researching Torben’s Fountain that I simply had to tell their story before I could move on to something else.

I knew it would be a difficult book to write. I had never tackled anything this complicated before. My first thought was to find a more experienced writer worthy of the challenge and convince him or her to tell the story instead of me. It would have to cover five long years of war and involve making more than a dozen point-of-view (POV) characters stand out from scores of helpers, pilots and others. Writing is already fraught with insecure moments when you feel like everyone is creating Mona Lisas while you’re still finger painting, so I didn’t know if I had developed the skills needed to do the story justice.

But I realized that no one could write the story as I saw it. I needed to write it myself.

Each POV character’s journey was different yet intertwined with the others. It wasn’t just sorting out the events and organizing them on a time line, I needed to get to know their various personalities, not merely from things they had written, but also from how others saw them. Then it was a matter of using the right historical events to capture individual personalities while advancing the plot.

To further complicate things, various accounts were at times contradictory and it became necessary to choose what I believed most likely happened. For instance, one account says that when an underground member Lily went to uncover a traitor in the line, a member called Diane drove her to Fresnes prison. But in her report filed just after the war, Diane said that she had been arrested a month earlier. That meant she couldn’t have been the one to have driven Lily. There were also a number of aha moments that caused rewrites. Sometimes the only information I had to go on was that a certain event happened during a particular season, then after inserting it where I thought it fit I would find the same incident noted in an airman’s report and have to move the event and rewrite every scene affected by the change.

While I strive for accuracy, I know I can’t get every detail right. I hope that what I have written is a fair portrayal of what really happened during those difficult years.

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