Both my grandfathers were heavily involved in the Second World War and I grew up listening to their stories, so I’ve always had a fascination with the period and with books set at the time. Step forward my friend Anne Barwell, whose latest m/m romance Winter Duet falls into that exact category. The book is part of a series, and here she chats about how much of a juggling act that is, particularly when her characters won’t play ball! There are more details including an excerpt at the end of the post, but for now, over to you, Anne:
“Thanks for hosting me today!
Hi, I’m Anne and I have a series… addiction.
Or to put it another way, I can’t write a one shot to save my life. Every time I write a story it turns into a series. Or, if it doesn’t, it spins off into a series.
At least with my WW2 series, Echoes, I knew I was writing a series from the very beginning. The story I wanted to tell was too long for just one book, if I wanted to do it justice.
Winter Duet is book two of that series, the middle book of the three. That puts it in a unique position. Shadowboxing, which is book one, sets everything up and introduces the characters, and Comes a Horseman, book three, will conclude the story, and resolve any dangling plot threads.
Although Winter Duet is part of a series, it needed to stand alone so that readers could read it before Shadowboxing and still follow what was going on. But in doing so they’d also be aware there was more of the story and then hopefully go find Shadowboxing and read that one too.
However, despite needing some recap, I didn’t want to give too much away or what would be the point in reading the first book? I also didn’t want to do a big info dump at the beginning of the book either. The solution was to have a character reminiscing about what happened, but as she’s not one of the main players, she only knew so much, so it’s not too much, but enough, like tuning into your favourite TV show and hearing the voiceover: previously on…
I also needed to advance the storyline, and have the characters grow a bit more—or there’s no point to the book—but still have enough unresolved plot to tie up in the next book. It’s a juggling act, especially with a fairly large cast, but that’s half the fun. The characters, of course, had their own ideas about where the plot should go and introduced a 10K detour I hadn’t expected. I should know better than to think they’re going to follow an outline by now. My characters never do. They still get from A to B, but they like to take the scenic route.
Winter Duet also introduces a couple of new characters, one of which one of my beta readers got very attached to. The story also has a very small easter egg for readers of my other books. Blink and you’ll miss it, but it’s there.
The story ties up some loose ends from Shadowboxing but also sets up foreshadowing for the next book. In particular, there’s one scene between two characters which is a lot more than it seems, but that’s the only clue I’m giving. All will be revealed in the final book in the series.”
Winter Duet (Echoes Rising Book 2)
Who do you trust when no one is who they seem?
Fleeing German physicist Dr Kristopher Lehrer and his lover, Resistance fighter Michel, are caught up in an Allied bombing campaign. Separated from Michel after discovering an injured RAF pilot in the Black Forest, and pursued by the SS for the information he carries, Kristopher is frantic to reunite, unaware that Michel has been recruited by the Allies for a rescue mission.
Time is running out. The Gestapo is closing in. How can they decide who to trust, when the dagger pointed at Kristopher’s back could be wielded by a friend?
Author’s note: This is the third edition of Winter Duet. The first and second editions were released by another publishing house. This story has been re-edited, and uses UK spelling to reflect its setting.
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08VL2LQNB
Universal Link: https://books2read.com/WinterDuetAB
Michel parted the bushes cautiously and peered through. One glance at who had provoked the response from the soldiers and he closed his peek hole quickly and stayed as still as he could.
“Heil Hitler!” Reiniger returned the greeting. “Stay attentive!” he snapped at them. “Now is not the time for idle conversation. Anyone caught doing so will be disciplined accordingly. Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes, Herr Obersturmführer,” both men chorused.
If Reiniger had heard any of their discussion, they were lucky to get off with a warning. Someone in their unit at the institute had been caught shirking his duties. Michel shuddered, not wanting to dwell on the details. The man’s punishment had been harsh, without mercy, and far in excess of what was required for his so-called crime.
“Our enemy is close by. We’ve already caught one, and I suspect his companions will not readily abandon him.” Reiniger snorted. “That weakness can be used to our advantage, so it is important we are prepared. Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes, Herr Obersturmführer.”
Michel took a sharp breath. Surely Reiniger hadn’t found Kit? Kit was with Leo. If two men had been discovered, Reiniger would have said so. Wouldn’t he? Unless Kit had left Leo and been caught a distance from him.
No. Kit wouldn’t… Michel mentally groaned. Of course he would, if he thought it necessary, and especially if he’d decided Michel might be walking into some kind of trap. He’d try to warn him and to hell with the consequences.
Reiniger turned, his eyes narrowing as he glanced in Michel’s direction. Michel held his breath, praying, hoping his hiding place hadn’t been compromised. “What are you standing here for?” Reiniger snapped at the two soldiers. “They’re somewhere close, and I want them found.” He gestured in the direction from which Michel had come. “Get on with it.”
“Yes, Herr Obersturmführer.”
The soldiers saluted and moved off. Reiniger stood for a moment, as though thinking, his face creasing into a frown, and then he headed in the opposite direction. He muttered something under his breath, but Michel couldn’t make out the words.
He heard breathing behind him. Close behind him.
Merde! He reached for his weapon, but before he could draw it, he felt the barrel of a gun pressed against his back.
Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with Kaylee: a cat with “tortitude” who is convinced that the house is run to suit her; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date, it appears as though Kaylee may be winning.
In 2008, Anne completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.
She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts and reviews for other authors, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes. She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance writers, and a member of RWNZ.
Anne’s books have received honourable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner up in the Rainbow Awards. She has also been nominated three times in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—twice for Best Fantasy, once for Best Historical, and once for All-Time Favourite M/M Author.
Website & Blog—Drops of Ink: http://annebarwell.wordpress.com/
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