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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #16

Dear Reader,

This week, I made good progress with the first draft of Snow in August, Sam Smith Mystery Series book sixteen. I write the first draft of every story at a fast pace before slowing down with the second draft. The second draft is basically the story you read, after minor adjustments during two rounds of editing. Once the second draft is complete I never make radical changes. When I write, the book is about word selection, not story building. The story building takes place during the planning and storyboarding stages. Watching a documentary this week I noticed that Alfred Hitchcock used to meticulously storyboard his movies. Personally, I think it’s a great way of storytelling, whether through the medium of movies or books.

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Alfred Hitchcock

Delighted that Sam has found new readers, in Sweden 🙂

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Pictured, a view of the Stora Sjöfallet National Park

Suzan is recording audiobook versions of Escape and Victory, to complete the series. I just listened to chapter one of Escape and Suzan’s narration is excellent. Normally, I don’t like rereading or listening to my words, but Suzan‘s narration drew me into the story.

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Here’s an example of Suzan’s narration https://hannah-howe.com/audio-books/

My latest translation, the Spanish version of Victory. Irene translated all five books in this series and it was a great pleasure working with her.

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Earlier this week, I watched North By Northwest for the first time. I will write a review of the movie on another occasion, but for now would like to mention Eva Marie Saint who, in her nineties, I am pleased to say is still with us. Eva Marie Saint offered an elegant performance in North By Northwest and is the main reason for watching this movie. She also excelled in 36 Hours, a James Garner World War Two noir movie. That movie relied on a simple, but highly effective, plot device to knit the drama together. Without giving the plot away, it relied on fingers and thumbs. I love old movies and, in all truth, the old stars were a mixed bunch. Some of the stories about them would make your toes curl. But I’ve read no such stories about Eva Marie Saint. On and off screen, she exuded class.

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Eva Marie Saint with Cary Grant in North by Northwest, 1959

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

Categories
Dear Reader

Dear Reader #12

Dear Reader,

Books sixteen, seventeen and eighteen in the Sam Smith Mystery Series will be Snow in August, a story about childhood trauma; Looking For Rosanna Mee, a story about how the Powers That Be abuse vulnerable people; Stormy Weather, a story about climate change. The storyboarding of Snow in August is progressing well and I intend to finish it next week.

Another busy week with my translators with three books published, all in Spanish. We also started two new translations taking the total to forty-three books in ten languages.

This week, my Spanish Civil War research focused on Lily Margaret Powell, a remarkable woman, a true heroine who volunteered to nurse in Spain during the war and was the last International Brigades nurse to leave the conflict. You can read Margaret’s remarkable story here

Margaret Powell, second left, and her medical team in Spain

My film of the week is Fallen Angel, a noir movie made in 1945. The movie reunites director Otto Preminger with Dana Andrews, who had worked together on Laura the previous year. The movie also features Alice Faye, Linda Darnell and a host of fine character actors.

While the movie doesn’t quite touch the heights of Laura – few movies do – it’s still an excellent story. Like Laura, it’s a film of two halves. In Laura, the title character didn’t appear until the second half of the film while in Fallen Angel Linda Darnell dominates the first half with a sultry performance as the femme fatale and Alice Faye blossoms in the second half; Dana Andrews links the whole piece together.

Playing a bookish, reserved woman, Alice Faye had the toughest role – noir movies are basically designed around the femme fatale and Linda Darnell shone in this part. Initially, Fallen Angel was intended to showcase Alice Faye’s talents. However, many of her scenes ended up on the cutting room floor. Some suggest that film producer Darryl F. Zanuck decided to use the film to promote Linda Darnell, his new protégé, instead of Alice Faye. Certainly, Alice Faye’s characterisation suffers from the cuts and she wasn’t pleased about it. Indeed, she retired from movies until 1962 when she made State Fair.

Alice Faye

In 1987, Alice Faye told an interviewer, “When I stopped making pictures, it didn’t bother me because there were so many things I hadn’t done. I had never learned to run a house. I didn’t know how to cook. I didn’t know how to shop. So all these things filled all those gaps.”

Linda Darnell

As a mystery author, usually I unravel a movie plot early on. And while I identified the murderer during the early scenes of Fallen Angel the movie is well crafted and until the closing scenes all the principal characters remain in the frame.

Dana Andrews

Fallen Angel is also worth watching for Alice Faye reciting the following poetic lines:

We are born to tread the Earth as angels 

to seek out Heaven this side of the sky.

But they who race alone shall stumble,

in the dark and fall from grace.

Then love alone can make the fallen angel rise,

for only two together can enter paradise.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

Categories
Ann's War Novels

The Fifth Man

I’m researching a mystery novel set in 1948, working title The Fifth Man. That year was memorable for many notable events, including:

The nationalisation of the railways in Britain
The first Kinsey Report into sexual behaviour
Gentleman’s Agreement won the Oscar for Best Picture
The film premiere of Hamlet
Australia’s cricket team, ‘The Invincibles’, toured Britain led by Don Bradman

Columbia Records introduced the LP
The Manchester Baby became the first stored-program computer to successfully complete a program
The film premiere of Oliver Twist
The Summer Olympics in London
The founding of the National Health Service in Britain, inspired by Welsh politician Nye Bevan. This will be central to my story

Discover more in my Amazon store https://www.amazon.co.uk/stores/page/460F9ED0-6D82-43A0-AF0A-4A626C707C85

Categories
Ann's War

Casablanca

My Ann’s War mini series is a mystery series set against the backdrop of the Second World War and the Home Front. The first story, Betrayal, is set in March 1944. During that month, Casablanca, one of the most popular films of the war, and of all time, won Best Picture at the Sixteenth Academy Awards.

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One of the lines most closely associated with the film, “Play it again, Sam”, was not actually said. The line is, “Play it once, Sam, for old time’s sake.” And, “Play it, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By’.”

Another famous line from the film is, “Here’s looking at you, kid.” That line was not written into the draft screenplays, but has since been attributed to a comment Humphrey Bogart made to Ingrid Bergman as he taught her poker between takes.