Monday, July 31, 2017

Creating a Villain by Joan Leotta


Please welcome my guest, Joan Leotta who has a most interesting post. I'm hooked! Read on.

My friend Julia told me the story of how she and her husband met and married in the mid 1950s. Her tale of going toWashington, DC to marry her then-fiancé, John started it all. He met her train and when she put her foot on the top of the set of metal steps leading from her car to the platform, he reached up and swept her around and down onto the platform. Once her feet touched the ground he pulled her close and sealed her arrival greeting with a kiss. That story and an interest in history grew into a book on WWII in Wilmington, NC which became book one of my Legacy of Honor Quartet.

 So, I had the romance, but what about the rest of the story? World War II work posters always talked about loose lips, the possibility of spies trying to sabotage war work, so it was a natural for me to create a villain who was a spy. My spy was a Nazi. I gave him the very ordinary name of Herbert and characteristics that were ordinary as well. He was a lonely sort of guy, whose goal was to sabotage the key elements of the shipyard—the part developing secret equipment—which is where Giulia worked (of course!). The ins and outs of defeating the spy's efforts are what give the plot its action elements and of course, are one more way I bring Giulia and John closer together. 

I did a lot of research using original resources—newspapers, magazines, records of people who lived through the era. The book is sprinkled with details about life in Wilmington, NC during WWII. Some of my favorite are descriptions of the dances at the USO center, now known as the Hannah Block Center. 

There were spies on the east coast, but nothing has ever been disclosed about any activity in the Wilmington shipyard. There are records of a U-boat attempting to land on the NC coast, a bomb and more, but up the coast from Wilmington. I merely moved the entire activity down the coast so the action could be a part of my story. 

The book is about 35,000 words, a novella. All of this came from a simple conversation that started my imagination rolling. I kept it powered with interviews from folks who lived through the various eras, research in libraries and the simple question, "What if?" 

Here is a small excerpt from Giulia Goes to War, the first book in the Legacy of Honor quartet. This section is from one of the chapters dealing with Giulia's work in the shipyard.

"Giulia had just shown the guard at the door her pass and was entering the Quonset hut when the boom shook the ground. The sound started her ears ringing and sent a flash of heat and light throughout the area. The young guard who had just cleared Giulia to enter the room, pushed her inside and threw himself on top of her. She heard him gasp as a piece of wooden plank implanted itself in his arm. 

She could hardly hear now because of the ringing in her ears, but she thought she heard John calling to her as though from very far away. "Giulia! Giulia!"  It was John! He grabbed her and the guard and pulled them inside the Quonset hut. Before John could assess the situation he heard the shipyard’s alarms wailing.

Giulia's immediate supervisor appeared in the hallway where they were all huddled a few seconds later. "Everyone all right here?" 

Check out my FB page, Joan Leotta, Author and Story Performer

Please Take a Look at my Blog, Recipes for Success,

Giulia goes to War

Desert Breeze Publishing Volume I in the Legacy of Honor series

ISBN-10: 161252639X

ISBN-13: 978-1612526393

Buy link to Giulia

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