Categories
Dear Reader

Dear Reader #54

Dear Reader,

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison

This is how I started writing and why I write.

My latest translation, the Spanish version of Snow in August, available soon 🙂

My latest audiobook. We hope to complete production next week 🙂

“In books we never find anything but ourselves. Strangely enough, that always gives us great pleasure, and we say the author is a genius.” – Thomas Mann

You mean, I’m not a genius?! 🤣

“Some cry with tears, others with thoughts.” – Octavio Paz

Picture: On the Green Bank, Sanary, 1911 – Henri Lebasque

A statue problem, solved. From 1949.

This week is refugee week. My country, Wales, has a proud history of welcoming refugees. This picture shows the children at Cambria House, Caerleon, Basque refugees from the Spanish Civil War.

Sandra Puhl translated my Ann’s War series into German and I’m delighted that she has agreed to translate my Eve’s War series. One of the joys of writing is working with creative people.

Art as therapy.

A crochet panel produced by George Preece following a life-changing accident at Abercynon Colliery in 1909.

George was involved in a transport accident which resulted in the loss of both legs. Unable to work again, he spent his time making the crochet panel, and other items from old food tins.

I enjoyed this film this week. During the first half, I thought the hero and heroine were too flippant for the subject matter. However, a tragic incident at the halfway mark changed the mood and the various strands came together to produce a suspenseful conclusion. Not a classic, but a good variation on the POW theme.

Brittany, 16 August 1944. Members of the FFI (French Forces of the Interior). Their uniforms show the French flag with the Free French emblem, the Cross of Lorraine.

By mid-August 1944 the Nazis were in full retreat and these women were contemplating the liberation of Paris, which arrived after a week-long battle, 19 August to 25 August.

Approximately twenty percent of the FFI were women. Many fought alongside their husbands, including Cécile Rol-Tanguy, Lucie Aubrac, Paulette Kriegel-Valrimont, Hélène Viannay, Cletta Mayer and Marie-Hélène Lefaucheux. They organised acts of sabotage, wrote and distributed newspapers, and freed many from Nazi concentration camps. Indeed, Marie-Hélène Postel-Vinay rescued Pierre Lefaucheux from a Gestapo prison camp. The couple subsequently married.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

Categories
Dear Reader

Dear Reader #53

Dear Reader,

Delighted to see that Smashwords are featuring The Olive Tree: Roots on their homepage 🙂

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/996773

An iconic photograph from the Spanish Civil War. This is Marina Ginestà i Coloma, born in Toulouse on 29 January 1919 after her family had emigrated to France from Spain.

Aged eleven, Marina returned to Spain, to Barcelona, with her parents, who were tailors. When the Spanish Civil War broke out she served as a translator and reporter. 

This picture was taken by Juan Guzman on 21 July 1936 when Marina was seventeen years old. The location is the rooftop of the Hotel Colón in Barcelona.

In 1952, Marina married a Belgian diplomat. She moved to Paris in 1978 and died there on 6th January 2014.

It’s an amazing fact that the vast majority of the female Resistance fighters I have researched lived well into their nineties.

My article about SOE heroine Jacqueline Nearne is on page 16 of the Seaside News. Lots of other interesting features included too.

The Longest Day contains many remarkable pieces of filmmaking, but from a technical point of view this scene is the highlight.

Sara Ginaite-Rubinson was born in Kaunas on 17 March 1924. She was a schoolgirl in 1941 when the Nazis invaded Lithuania, killing three of her uncles and imprisoning her and the surviving members of her family. 

While imprisioned in the Kovno Ghetto, Sara met Misha Rubinson, whom she later married. During the winter of 1943-44 the couple escaped and established a Resistance group. Twice, she returned to the ghetto to help others escape.

In 1944, Sara and Misha participated in the liberation of the Vilnius and Kaunas ghettos, freeing Sara’s sister and niece among many others.

After the war, Sara became a professor of political economics at Vilnius University. She also wrote an award-winning book, Resistance and Survival: The Jewish Community in Kaunas, 1941–1944.

Sara died on 2 April 2018, yet another remarkable Resistance fighter who lived well into her nineties.

* * *

Every year in France the locals collect sand from Omaha Beach, where the Americans lost 2,400 lives on D-Day, and use it to fill in the letters on the tombstones of the fallen.

Delighted that Paula Branch has agreed to narrate Operation Zigzag, book one in my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series. Production will begin next week. Meanwhile, here’s one we made earlier https://www.amazon.com/Digging-Dirt-Smith-Mystery-Book/dp/B089CJLFWG/

“In an age of speed, I began to think, nothing could be more invigorating than going slow. In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still.” – Pico Iyer

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx


Categories
Dear Reader

Dear Reader #40

Dear Reader,

My personal top ten this week with Mind Games making the biggest leap up the charts.

The proof copy of Snow in August, which arrived this week.

Authors take two basic approaches to long-running series. 1. The lead characters remain exactly the same (Columbo is a good example of this). 2. The lead characters develop over time. My Sam Smith Mystery Series slots into the second category.

Looking for Rosanna Mee, book seventeen in the series, will see a development of Faye’s character. Sam will narrate, but Faye will lead the investigation. This will also be an ‘Alan story’ with the psychological aspect well to the fore.

Looking for Rosanna Mee will be available for pre-order shortly and the book will be published later this year.

I’m writing The Olive Tree, A Spanish Civil War Saga. In book one, Roots, Prince Nicolas Esteban invites author Naomi Parker to dinner. What should she wear? She decides on this dress by Madeleine Vionnet.

Recently, I enjoyed Dangerous Crossing, a 1953 film noir mystery, on DVD. Directed by Joseph M. Newman and starring Jeanne Crain and Michael Rennie, the movie was based on the 1943 play Cabin B-13 by John Dickson Carr.

The plot centres on the gaslighting of Jeanne Crain’s character as she embarks upon a honeymoon cruise.

A low-budget movie devoid of special effects, Dangerous Crossing relies on strong characterisation and a genuinely suspenseful plot.

Jeanne Crain is an attractive heroine who features in almost every scene while Michael Rennie lends solid support. To see the best of Jeanne Crain, however, I recommend Leave Her to Heaven where she excels in her trademark ‘girl next door’ role.

Research Makes Writing Easier

In Eve’s War, Guy Samson, my male SOE agent, is loosely based on three people. Guy has a Welsh mother and French father, but these people did not have that background.

While researching the area where my SOE agents will operate, Brittany, I discovered another agent, Andre Hue, who had a Welsh mother and French father. This coincidence completes the circle and makes Guy’s character much stronger. And strong characters make the task of writing so much easier.

Pictured: the ancient links between Brittany and Wales.

I completed the storyboarding for Operation Locksmith this week, fifteen A3 pages of squiggles. In Operation Locksmith, Eve, Guy and Mimi train to become SOE agents, but is there a traitor in the camp?

Meanwhile, it’s lovely to see that Operation Zigzag is keeping company with Robert Ludlum’s Bourne series 🙂

https://books2read.com/u/mKDDyv

Women of Courage Heroines of SOE

Maureen Patricia ‘Paddy’ O’Sullivan was born in Dublin on 3 January 1918 the daughter of journalist John Aloysius O’Sullivan (1873–1949) and Johanna Repen (1889–1919), who died when Paddy was only 15 months old.

At the age of seven Paddy was sent to live with an aunt in Belgium where she attended a convent school in Cortrai. At the beginning of the war she worked as a nurse in Highgate Hospital, London. She joined the WAAF on 7 July 1941 as an Aircraft Handler General Duties, and was later promoted to Section Officer. Her SOE report lists that her hobbies included reading, psychology and walking.

Paddy’s trainers had mixed views of her. She could be stubborn and prone to temper. However, others regarded her as kind-hearted and able.

As a member of the SOE, Paddy parachuted into Limoges on 23 March 1944. Falling through the fog, she landed heavily, sustaining a concussion. She awoke to find a cow breathing on her face. Later, she said that the two million francs strapped to her back, money to fund SOE and Resistance activities, saved her life.

As Micheline Marcelle Simonet, Paddy’s cover story revealed that she was a ‘dame de compagnie’ of a doctor in Paris. She was taking  one month’s leave to look for a lost Belgian parent in Creuse. Her documents, including a letter from the doctor, were good. However, the month-long limitation was a strange decision by the SOE because the intention was for Paddy to remain in the area for considerably longer than that. In the event, she changed her cover story and became the friend of a school-teacher’s wife – the school-teacher was a leader of the local Resistance.

On one occasion, Paddy was stopped by the Gestapo while transporting her wireless, which was hidden in a suitcase. In passable German, she flirted with the officer, made a ‘date’ for the following evening, then escaped, the suitcase forgotten by the lusting officer.

After noble and brave service, Paddy returned to Britain on 5 October 1944. 

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

Categories
Movies

Above Suspicion

Currently, I’m reading Above Suspicion and Assignment in Brittany, the first two novels written by espionage novelist Helen MacInnes, pictured. These novels about the Second World War were written during the war, so they carried the stamp of authenticity. Furthermore, Helen MacInnes was married to Gilbert Highet who served in MI6 as a British intelligence agent. It is believed that Highet provided espionage details for many of MacInnes’ books and that their experiences formed the basis for Above Suspicion.

Directed by Richard Thorpe, Above Suspicion was released as a movie in 1943. Joan Crawford and Fred MacMurray took the lead roles in a plot that followed two newlyweds as they spied on the Nazis during their honeymoon in Europe.

The production standards for the movie were good. The back projection and background paintings, standard practice in movie making for decades, were largely unobtrusive. On first viewing, I thought Joan Crawford was miscast. However, on second viewing, I agreed with the New York Times who said, “Joan Crawford is a very convincing heroine.”

The plot lent itself to a noir treatment. However, the producer and director went for a lighter touch, including humour and musical numbers whenever possible. This was justified because a musical score was central to the plot.

Given that the movie was released in 1943, it contained some racy banter between Joan Crawford and Fred MacMurray whose innuendos and desire to have sex whenever possible realistically portrayed them as newlyweds.

Above Suspicion marked the end of Joan Crawford’s eighteen year career with MGM before she signed with Warner Bros. Sadly, the movie served as the final role for character actor Conrad Veidt, who died of a heart attack shortly after the final scenes were shot. 

If you are a fan of vintage movies, then Above Suspicion is certainly worth ninety minutes of your time.

Categories
Dear Reader

Dear Reader #18

Dear Reader,

I rediscovered Twitter this week. Like all of social media, Twitter is mainly a talking platform, not a listening platform. That said, I have found it useful for accessing information from experts who have greater knowledge about certain subjects than I have. Twitter, like all of social media, is not a good book promoting platform so I’m not sure if I will use it to any great extent. However, if you would like to connect there my Twitter link is on the sidebar.

E0711357-0479-4284-B618-5468C7F73CEA

This week, we started work on the audiobook version of Victory. This will complete the Ann’s War series. The series is also available in a number of languages, with more to follow. I wrote the books as an experiment, which has turned into a great success. This has encouraged me to follow a similar pattern with my forthcoming Spanish Civil War series, The Olive Tree.

VICTORY AUDIOBOOK

The audiobook version of Escape is nearly ready for publication. It’s been a while since I wrote the story so I’ve managed to listen to it with fresh ears. I love the story. This has nothing to do with the quality of my writing, but is based on the remarkable series of true events that make up the story.

ESCAPE AUDIOBOOK

Many thanks to Graciela for her excellent translation of Boston, which will be available soon 🙂

BOSTON SPANISH

From my research… In 1939, there were more movie theatres in America – 15,115 – than banks – 14,952. More than 50 million Americans went to the movies every week and there were 400 new movies a year to watch. Annually, the movies were the nation’s eleventh-biggest business in terms of assets netting $529,950,444. Although synonymous with Hollywood, the financial aspect of the movies was controlled by New York.

Movie executives were amongst the richest rewarded, ranked second in terms of percentage sales and profits while leading actors and directors, on short-term contracts, could earn $40,000 a week. In comparison leading writers earned $350 – $1,000 a week.

2E154542-2255-4FB7-94A5-D19F6FCEF631
Bogart and Bacall

My appreciation of the classic movie North by Northwest https://hannah-howe.com/2019/10/09/north-by-northwest/

88D13146-D1CC-4AC6-B51E-6D2B6008AC18
Eva Marie Saint with Cary Grant in North by Northwest, 1959

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx