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Did you have an opportunity to meet Gail Kittleson when she she shared her novel In This Together? Gail has recently completed a trilogy titled Women of the Heartland. I’m happy to have her visiting today to share the conclusion to the series, A Purpose True. Before we visit with Gail to hear more of the behind-the-scenes story, let’s take a quick peek at the back of the book.
German panzer units crisscross the region, dealing ruthless reprisals against the French Resistance, and anyone suspected of supporting its efforts. Secret Operations Executive (SOE) agent Kate Isaacs is tasked with providing essential radio communications with the Allies, while her guide, Domingo Ibarra, a Basque shepherd-turned-Resistance fighter, dedicates himself to avenging the destruction of his home and family.
Thrown together by the vagaries of war, their shared mission, and common devotion to liberty, the last thing Kate and Domingo anticipate is the stirring of affection that threatens to blossom into love. But how can love survive in the midst of the enemy’s relentless cruelty toward innocent citizens?
Everything hinges on the success of the Allied Invasion – L’Invasion.
Welcome back, Gail! Tell us a little more about A Purpose True. Why did you choose this particular setting, and have you been there?
The setting is where this World War II series took me. The Waffen S.S. tank units heading to Normandy to fight the Allies committed some atrocities that leave us aghast.
Unfortunately, we know what terrorist attacks are like—innocent citizens eating a meal, attending a meeting, or out for a bicycle ride suddenly struck down. In the case of the Nazis, they took out their anger at French Resistance sabotage by destroying everything in their path—including entire villages of innocent people.
The Resistance did everything possible to stymie the tanks’ advance northward—cutting telephone lines, blowing up railroad bridges, and in general, making life miserable for the commanders and soldiers. The saboteurs’ success in slowing down the tank battalions infuriated the German commanders, and even though they were under orders to hurry to the fight, they took the time to wreak revenge on the populace.
What’s interesting is that I did travel close to this area thirty-some years ago, but had no idea I’d be writing about Southern France in the future. Oh, how I wish I had enjoyed the gift of prophecy—I’d have interviewed everything that moved! In fact, the director of our language school had been a member of the Resistance—makes me sick to think that I actually KNEW somebody who had been involved.
Oh wow! Yes, it would have been amazing to interview those people, but even the things you were able to see and experience there surely played into your ability to describe the scenes. Do you have personal experience with any of the events in your story? Could you share about that?
My experience with doubt and fear is no fun to discuss. No, I’ve never experienced physical attacks on my homeland or the oppression of an occupying army—and I’m so grateful.
My characters live in constant danger. Worse, it’s nebulous—they have no idea when the worst will come down upon them. As a result, they’re constantly wary.
Having lived out of fear the first few decades of my life, I have lots of that kind of emotional experience. Escaping that faltering existence, where you always feel punishment waits just around the corner, doesn’t happen overnight. You behave like a prairie dog, always on the alert.
But it’s wonderful to look back and realize how much progress you’ve made.
I imagine it took men and women a long time to begin acting “normal” again once the war ended. Today we call those difficulties Post Traumatic Stress. One thing I’ve learned is that many involved in clandestine “secret agent” work were told to never breathe a word about it after the war.
Often, their heirs discovered amazing secrets after their deaths. Imagine finding out that your mother parachuted into Southern France and spent a year of her young life thwarting the Nazis!
But back to the story…what’s truly incredible is the ability of people to grow during the most difficult times. This proves true even in the midst of war. My hero and heroine still find beauty, inspiration, new friendships, and even long-lasting love in spite of the fearsome dangers surrounding them.
The popular song, “There’ll Be Bluebirds over the White Cliffs of Dover,” written in 1941, exemplifies the hope people maintained despite a very grim outlook. The composer mentions peace, love, and laughter…and readers will find A Purpose True includes these also, as it ties up the loose ends in the Women of the Heartland series.
It’s during those difficult times that we most need the hope of peace, love, and beauty. It sounds like you’ve taken a fearful, overwhelming experience and found that hope in the midst of it — both in your story and in your own life! Thanks so much for sharing with us, Gail!
Your turn! Is there something (a song, a Bible verse, a quote…) that serves as a reminder to you to hold onto hope during the difficult times?
More about Gail:
When Gail’s not steeped in World War II research, drafting scenes, or deep in one edit or another, she does a limited amount of editing for other authors. She also facilitates writing workshops and classes, both in Iowa and Arizona, where winters find her enjoying the incredibly gorgeous Ponderosa forest under the Mogollon Rim. Favorites: walking, reading, meeting new people, and hearing from readers who fall in love with her characters.
You can connect with Gail online:
Facebook Author Page: www.facebook.com/GailKittlesonAuthor