Interview with historical fiction novelist Linda Bennett Pennell

I’m
chatting with historical romance novelist Linda
Bennett Pennell
today about her newest book, Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn.

During her virtual book tour, Linda
will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card
to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your
chances of winning, feel free to visit
her other tour stops
and enter there, too!


Welcome, Linda. Please tell us a little
bit about yourself.
I have been in love with the past for as
long as I can remember. Anything with a history, whether shabby or majestic,
recent or ancient, instantly draws me in. I suppose it comes from being part of
a large extended family that spanned several generations. Long summer
afternoons on my grandmother’s porch or winter evenings gathered around her
fireplace were filled with stories both entertaining and poignant. Of course
being set in the American South, those stories were also peopled by some very
interesting characters, some of whom have found their way into my work.
As for my venture in writing, it has
allowed me to reinvent myself. We humans are truly multifaceted creatures, but
unfortunately we tend to sort and categorize each other into neat, easily
understood packages that rarely reveal the whole person. Perhaps you, too, want
to step out of the box in which you find yourself. I encourage you to look at
the possibilities and imagine. Be filled with childlike wonder in your mental
wanderings. Envision what might be, not simply what is. Let us never forget,
all good fiction begins when someone says to her or himself, “Let’s
pretend.” 
I reside in the Houston area with one
sweet husband and one adorable German Shorthaired Pointer who is quite certain
she’s a little girl.
Favorite quote regarding my professional
passion:  “History is filled with the sound of silken slippers
going downstairs and wooden shoes coming up.” Voltaire  
Please tell us about
your current release.
Casablanca:
Appointment at Dawn

is set in 1943 in the weeks leading up to the First Allied Conference. It
features Kurt, an OSS officer, whose very unique talents take him into the back
allies of Casablanca and across the north African desert chasing spies, double
agents, and a Nazi plan to disrupt the conference. Through no fault of her own,
Sarah, an army nurse, is also sucked into this vortex of intrigue and danger
swirling around Kurt. Neither of them expected nor wanted a wartime romance,
but love is sometimes found in the most unusual of circumstances.

What inspired you to
write this book?
I
have always loved World War II history. Originally, I had planned a book about
a ninety-day-wonder, as WWII Army Air Corps pilots-in-training were known, and
an army nurse. It was to be set at the training facility at Hialeah, Florida,
but it just wasn’t working for me. During the research phase, I was in
communication with a WWII pilot and fellow author. He mentioned having a friend
who was stationed in Casablanca during the war. My pilot became an OSS officer,
while the nurse moved to Casablanca as well. Romance among spies and double
agents makes for much more exciting reading, don’t you think?

Excerpt from Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn:

“I’m Heinz. What
do you want?”
“Oh. It’s you.”
“Yeah?”
“From the
restaurant on New Year’s Eve.”
Kurt was silent
for a moment, then it came back to him. “I remember. Sarah, right? You’re the
girl who refused to dance with me.”
A red flush
crawled from her throat onto the apples of her cheeks. “Yes. I’m sorry if I was
rude.”
“I’ve been cut
dead before. I got over it.”
The girl’s eyes
glittered. “I’m sure you did. Are you going to keep me standing here on the
doorstep for everyone to see?”
“Why? I’m not expecting
company. Would it be a problem?”
“It certainly
might if the people who tore my apartment apart followed me here.”
Kurt looked into
her eyes with complete attention for the first time since opening the door.
Whatever had happened to this girl, she looked terrified and angry. Not a
particularly good combination for the covert activities he and Phelps were up
to.
Kurt made a quick
decision. He stepped back and pulled the door wide while raising his voice.
“You better come inside and tell me why you think what happened to your
apartment has anything to do with me.”
When they stepped
into the living area, Phelps had disappeared. Kurt gestured toward the sofa and
the girl sat down. Propping himself on the sofa’s arm, he looked down into her
frightened eyes.
“Now tell me how I
can help you, Miss, uh…”
“Barrett, Sarah.
US Army. RN.”
“Well, Nurse
Barrett, what can I do for you?”
The girl stuck her
hand in her coat pocket and whipped out a scrap of paper that she waved in his
face. “By telling me what’s on this paper and why it’s so important that
somebody took a knife to my furniture.”
What exciting story
are you working on next?
My
work-in-progress is set in Miami and Havana. Told in alternating historical and
contemporary timelines, it features my history professor, Liz Reams, from Al
Capone at the Blanche Hotel. This time she is chasing Meyer Lansky, the Mob’s
Accountant and a founding member of Murder Incorporated.

When did you first consider yourself a
writer?

When
I completed the first draft of my first novel, I decided writing was something
that I would get immense pleasure from for many years to come.


Do you write full-time? If so, what’s
your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find
time to write?
I divide my time between writing, singing with the Texas Master Chorale and
my church choir, and volunteering with local arts organizations and my church.
I also occasionally act as a substitute administrator for the local school
district. I make a conscience effort to write something nearly everyday. It may
not always be on my next novel, however. I enjoy the blog, History Imagined,
which two other historical fiction authors and I run. I also enjoy doing posts
for other people’s blogs.

What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?

I
suppose it might be that I can write anywhere, anytime. It is a testament to my
particular brand of ADD. When I am in full-on writing mode, I think a pistol
could go off next to me and I might not notice.

As a child, what did you want to be when
you grew up?

When I was very little, I wanted to be a cowboy, tomboy that I was. Later on, I
went through the usual phases: model, equestrian, pop singer, lawyer, and
finally teacher…you know, the kind of stuff that appeals to young girls.

Anything additional
you want to share with the readers?

Nothing more than to say thank you so much for hosting me today!
Links:
Buy link for Confederado do Norte from Soul Mate
Publishing
Buy link for When War Came Home from Real Cypress Press

You’re welcome. Thank
you for stopping by!


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