Author of Blue Skies Tomorrow (Revell), Sarah Sundin says the era is a novelist’s dream with so many dramatic stories and settings— the cute clothes and men in uniform are an added bonus!
“This was a time when ordinary men had to do extraordinary things, and when women first explored non-traditional roles—while remaining ladies,” shares Sarah. “As a pharmacy resident at a veterans’ hospital, I had the honor of caring for many of these men. As a rule, they were cheerful, kind, and chivalrous, with the solid strength of someone who has been tested—and passed. What more could you want in a hero?”
Blue Skies Tomorrow (Revell) is the third novel in the Wings of Glory series, which follows the three Novak brothers—B-17 bomber pilots with the U.S. Eighth Air Force stationed in England during World War II.
Sarah shares, “Lt. Raymond Novak prefers the pulpit to the cockpit, but at least his stateside job training B-17 pilots allows him the luxury of a personal life. As he courts Helen Carlisle, a young war widow and mother who conceals her pain under a frenzy of volunteer work, the sparks of their romance set a fire that flings them both into peril.”
Sarah’s research on the home front was personally challenging. “In Blue Skies Tomorrow, the heroine experiences the Port Chicago Explosion, where 320 black sailors were killed in the largest U.S. home front disaster in the war. I thought I understood the explosion and the mutiny trial that followed, but my research changed my mind. I knew there was a great deal of racism and discrimination at the time, but the details of this disaster really brought it home to me.”
Prolific author Lynn Austin loves telling the stories of the ordinary heroes and heroines of the second World War, as depicted in her novels A Woman’s Place and While We’re Far Apart (Bethany). “World War II was truly a battle against evil,” she declares. “And the only way for that evil to be defeated was for ordinary men and women to stand up and fight against it. Everyone sacrificed for the same cause.
“Families said goodbye to their loved ones—fathers, husbands, brothers, sons—wondering if they would ever see them again. These courageous soldiers, many of whom had never traveled far from home before, fought in every corner of the globe at great risk to their lives. Meanwhile, people on the home front sacrificed in countless ways, working in the armament factories, growing victory gardens, gathering scrap metal, rationing food. In an amazing spirit of togetherness, everyone played a part, big or small.”
While We’re Far Apart is the story of three people who live in the same apartment building in Brooklyn during World War II. Twelve-year-old Esther, whose father has enlisted; Penny Goodrich, who moves in to take care of Esther and her younger brother, and is in love with their widower father; and Jacob Mendel, their Jewish landlord. Drawn together through difficult circumstances, Esther, Penny, and Mr. Mendel help each other learn how to trust God, even when He is silent.
Setting her story during World War II is very personal for Love Inspired author Renee Ryan, whose father is a WWII veteran. “I want to honor him,” she shares. “I so loved exploring this time period when patriotism was at its zenith in this country. Heroism was displayed daily, often in the most unexpected places and situations.”
Courting the Enemy (SteepleHill) is Renee’s second WWII novel. In 1943 on the northern coast of Florida, an American woman finds her loyalties divided when a Nazi war plot to sabotage U.S. shipyards pits the man she calls father against the man she loves. “I really wanted to explore what it takes to love flawed people, and maybe find out how far a person is willing to go when her loyalties are put to the test,” says Renee. “In times of war every decision matters on a grander scale, hence one of the reasons I decided to set this book in WWII.”
From the home front to the streets of Paris, author Mike Yorkey is fascinated by the era. “Most people ‘get it’ when it comes to World War II,” he says, “who the bad guys were; what the stakes were; the sad, sad story of Jewish persecution and killings; and how the good guys eventually won.” This enables Mike to construct thrilling twists and turns, and to focus on the suspense and action.
His WW2 thriller Chasing Mona Lisa (Revell Books), co-written with Tricia Goyer, hits stores January 2012. Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring is looking for a way to escape, realizing Paris will soon be liberated. He believes possessing the famous portrait of Mona Lisa may be the only way to facilitate his escape to South America. “Gabi Mueller and Eric Hofstadler, a Swiss pair, are informed of this plot while on a secret mission to Paris just before the city’s liberation in August 1944,” explains Mike. “In their service to the American intelligence organization in Switzerland—the Office of Strategic Services, or OSS (and forerunner to the CIA)—they must rescue the Mona Lisa before it falls into German hands.”
Susan May Warren
Susan May Warren, author of Nightingale (Summerside Press) is immensely grateful to the men and women who lived and died during WWII. “That generation knew what it felt like to sacrifice, pull together and cheer for each other. I love the heroism of both men and women fighting in their own way – from victory gardens, to the WACS, to women serving in the Red Cross, to the men dropping their careers or education to enlist. I love the music, the fashion, the dancing—of course!—the great shoes, the hairstyles, the values and the season of courage.”
Nightingale tells the story of a young nurse, bound to marry a soldier following a regretful decision, when she receives a letter from another soldier enclosing her fiance’s “last letter home.” Esther continues to correspond with this soldier named Peter, believing him to be a medic posted at a nearby base, unaware he is actually a German POW imprisoned in Wisconsin. “Peter’s story is a Daniel story of sorts, a prisoner sent into a foreign land to do good and hold onto faith,” shares Susan. “Esther’s story is that of the woman caught in sin … and set free to sin no more. Both of them have to surrender themselves into God’s hands, to let Him set them free and mold them into who He wants them to be.”
What do you hope readers take away from your story?
Sarah Sundin—“Fear can cripple you and keep you from the life God intends for you. I hope readers will see how they can find courage in the Lord and the strength to face whatever life throws at them.”
Lynn Austin—“I hope this story will help readers know that we can trust God, even when He is silent, even when we can’t see Him working.”
Renee Ryan—“I hope readers assess what they believe about heroism and loyalty after diving into these subjects with my characters. I hope they really consider the lessons we’ve learned in the past.”
Mike Yorkey—“Sheer enjoyment. Everyone has heard of the Mona Lisa, knows what she looks like. We really did almost lose her a second time in World War II, as Chasing Mona Lisa describes.”
Susan May Warren—“I wanted readers to hear the truth—that if they had made a mistake, they shouldn’t let it mold their lives. Let God set them free with His grace, His forgiveness and discover who they are when they let God take over.”