For today’s Sunday Dinner, I invited Marilyn Turk. An award-winning historical fiction author, Marilyn loves God, her family, readers and lighthouses. Her novels and novellas have been set around the Civil War and World War II.
Sunday Dinner is a traditional (noon) meal served after church on Sundays. Whole families, including extended family, would gather over a large meal to celebrate a day of rest. Multiple cultures enjoy this Sunday Dinner tradition. In my experience, I know it from both my Midwestern farm family as well as my Italian-American family. Now, I’d like to bring Sunday Dinner virtually to you. So, pull up a chair as we invite various guests to join us each week!
Without further ado, please tell us interesting readers would enjoy learning about you.
I retired from corporate America and am now in chapter 3 of my life, the life where I am an author who lives in Florida and enjoys playing tennis.
Can you tell us about your latest novel?
In The Escape Game, Beryl Clarke, who is living in England with her mother, finds out about a secret that can help her brother and their college friend escape from the POW camp where they are held captive in Nazi Germany. But how can she let them know about it without revealing classified information to the enemy?
What made you choose WWII England as your setting?
MI9, the secret service of England during the war, worked with the main character’s employer to devise escape tools for British prisoners of war.
What research was required to set a book in a different country, on a different continent, in a different historical time period?
Lots. I read several books about life in England during the war and how the citizens were affected. I also read books about POWs in Nazi Germany. In addition, I contacted several entities in England such as the Imperial War Museum, as well as one of the heirs to the company where my main character worked.
Did you need to, or have you, traveled to England?
I have not traveled to England, but I wish I could, especially before I wrote the book.
How is WWII England different in the 1940s from current day?
Vastly different from a couple of perspectives. First of all, it’s not being bombed as it was during the war. Because of the bombing, many buildings were destroyed and had to be rebuilt. In addition, those who lived in England during the war were required to ration and make do without extra amenities.
Can you give us a snapshot of what life would have been like in WW2 England? How did you go about making it authentic in your story?
If you lived in England during the war, you had a ration book and were only allowed to purchase a set amount of what you needed, and sometimes items were unavailable. You would either have a bomb shelter in or outside of your home and would go to it when the air raid alarms sounded. You would keep heavy black curtains over your windows at night so the bombers couldn’t find the houses. Most all healthy civilians, especially young unmarried women, served in some form of war effort, either in a military auxiliary or volunteering at the local Red Cross, as well as working a regular job. My main character, Beryl Clarke, worked as a secretary during the day and an Air Raid Warden at night.
Were resources easy or difficult to find? Do you have a favorite resource?
Resources weren’t terribly hard to find, since the survivors wrote many books about their lives during the war, but one of my favorite sources was the World War II Museum in New Orleans. I only wish I had talked with some WWII survivors while they were still alive.
What is one piece of your research that you couldn’t include in the book, but wish readers could know?
Other POW prisons in Germany. I read about many of them, but my characters Kenneth and James were only at Stalag Luft I.
Do you have another book in the works?
I am currently editing my book, Lighthouse Devotions to republish it. It is a book of lighthouse stories. I am also planning to release my novella, The Wrong Survivor, which was originally part of the Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides collection.
The afternoon is slipping away, so we have to draw the stories to an end. Marilyn, thank you for joining us today!
If readers would like to purchase a copy of The Escape Game where might they be able to do so?
Currently you can pre-order The Escape Game on Amazon. It does not release until March 1, 2023
If readers would like to learn about you or your other books, how might they find you online?
Over Sunday Dinner next week, author Susanne Dietze will join us to talk about her Christmas novella.