Friday, October 23, 2015

Interview with Linda Bennett Pernnel, CASABLANCA: APPOINTMENT AT DAWN

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?
Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn is set in the weeks leading up to the first World War II Allied Conference in 1943. The novel could just as easily been entitled Unconditional Surrender, because the Casablanca Conference is where Roosevelt and Churchill set that policy for surrender of the Axis powers. Would have made a nice little double entendre, no?  Here is a little taste of the story is about.

Casablanca, 1943: a viper’s nest of double agents and spies where OSS Officer Kurt Heinz finds his skill in covert operations pushed to the limit. Allied success in North Africa and the fate of the First Allied Conference—perhaps the outcome of the war—hang on Kurt’s next mission. The nature of his work makes relationships impossible. Nonetheless, he is increasingly torn between duty and the beautiful girl who desperately needs his protection and help.

Sarah Barrett, U.S. Army R.N., is finished with wartime romance. Determined to protect her recently broken heart, she throws all of her time and energy into caring for her patients, but when she is given a coded message by a mysterious dying civilian, she is sucked into a vortex of danger and intrigue that threatens her very survival. The one person who can help Sarah is Kurt, a man with too many secrets to be trusted. 

Do you have a favorite character?
I love both of my characters, but if I must choose between my darlings, I think Kurt is my favorite. He is strong, kind, loyal, and dedicated. He is a man’s man and a woman’s man. He chooses to do right even when it may cost him dearly. You’ve gotta love a hero!

Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
Yes, I am published by two small houses: Soul Mate Publishing and The Wild Rose Press.

How long before you got your offer of representation/your first contract? Was it for your first novel?
Soul Mate offered me my first contract about three months after I submitted. I met the publisher at a conference and we just clicked.

What factors influenced your decision to go with a particular agent or publisher?
Debbie Gilbert, Soul Mate’s founder and editor-in-chief, and I have a lot in common. When I met her at a conference, I felt she was someone who would understand my work. I have absolutely no regrets!

If you used a graphic designer/publisher’s designer, how involved were you during the creative process for your cover?
Both of my publishers are very concerned that authors have input into the cover designs for their books. I submitted the basic ideas for my books’ covers and have been very pleased with the results. Since I write historical fiction, I want my covers to have a historical feel. Each of them incorporates the aesthetic of an old photograph appropriate to the period in which the story is set. My stories are all set after the invention of photography! 

Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
I have a wonderful critique partner who has an unfailing eye for where my story needs improvement. She is the yin to my yang and vice versa.

What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?
I probably ought to be ashamed to admit that my “process” is pretty freewheeling. I can basically write anywhere and any time. I guess it is a tribute to my form of ADD that you could fire off a pistol and I might not notice if I am deep into writing mode.

Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
I am a plotter with pantser tendencies. Before I begin a novel, I usually know the general story arc, the end, the main characters, some of the major scenes, and even the title. The rest simply reveals itself as I write.

What’s next for you?
My work in progress is set in Miami and Havana and features Liz Reams, my professor who specializes in the history of American crime, from my first book, Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel. This time, she is chasing Meyer Lansky!  The story will be told in timelines alternating between the past and present like the Capone book.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:
I have been in love with the past for as long as I can remember. Anything with a history, whether shabby or majestic, recent or ancient, instantly draws me in. I suppose it comes from being part of a large extended family that spanned several generations. Long summer afternoons on my grandmother's porch or winter evenings gathered around her fireplace were filled with stories both entertaining and poignant. Of course being set in the American South, those stories were also peopled by some very interesting characters, some of whom have found their way into my work.

As for my venture in writing, it has allowed me to reinvent myself. We humans are truly multifaceted creatures, but unfortunately we tend to sort and categorize each other into neat, easily understood packages that rarely reveal the whole person. Perhaps you, too, want to step out of the box in which you find yourself. I encourage you to look at the possibilities and imagine. Be filled with childlike wonder in your mental wanderings. Envision what might be, not simply what is. Let us never forget, all good fiction begins when someone says to her or himself, "Let's pretend."

I reside in the Houston area with one sweet husband and one adorable German Shorthaired Pointer who is quite certain she’s a little girl.

"History is filled with the sound of silken slippers going downstairs and wooden shoes coming up." Voltaire 

Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel from Soul Mate Publishing
Confederado do Norte from Soul Mate Publishing
When War Came Home from real Cypress Press
Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn from the Wild Rose Press

Twitter:  @LindaPennell
Buy link for Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel:
Buy link for Confederado do Norte:
Buy ink for When War Came Home:

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