Thursday, November 14, 2013

Interview with Julie Rowe, author of Aiding the Enemy

Today, Flashlight Commentary is pleased to welcome author Julie Rowe to our little corner of the net to discuss Aiding the Enemy and the rest of the War Girls series.

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Welcome to Flashlight Commentary Julie. To start things off, please tell us a bit about Aiding the Enemy and the War Girls series.
Thanks for having me! Aiding the Enemy is the third book in my War Girls series. All three books feature nurse heroines and are set during the First World War in German occupied Belgium.

What inspired you to write these books?
The First World War spawned many changes in the roles of women in Western society. None more so than in the field of medicine and nursing. Prior to the war, female nurses performed their work at hospitals some distance away from the fighting. By the end of the war they were working at casualty clearing stations located sometimes only steps away from the trenches. The work and sacrifice of many of these women isn’t well known and I wanted to remind people that not all the heroes during the war were men.

Aiding the Enemy is the third in the series. How does it differ from the two previous installments?
The heroine of Aiding the Enemy is Rose Culver, a Red Cross nurse from England who runs a hospital in Brussels, Belgium. Rose’s character was inspired by real-life Red Cross nurse Edith Cavell. Edith sheltered 200 to 1000 allied soldiers (depending on which account of her life you read) in her hospital, provided them with civilian clothing, money, fake identification and either maps or a guide to reach safety. She was arrested by the German political police, tried for treason and executed by firing squad. I decided it was time to give Edith her happily-ever-after.

What research went into Aiding the Enemy and did you discover anything particularly surprising while investigating background material for you book? 
I’ve accumulated a large library of WW1 books. These include war histories, soldier, stretcher-bearer and nurse diaries, and of course, WW1 nurse biographies. One interesting thing I discovered during my research was the existence of an electric fence erected by the Germans to stop the flow of refugees from escaping Belgium and entering the neutral Netherlands. The fence carried a charge of 2000 to 3000 volts and killed approximately 3000 people, most of them civilians. When the war was over and the power to the fence removed, the local farmers didn’t throw it away, they reused it. Some of the fence poles are still in use today.

Did your experience as a medical lab technologist help you write this series and if so, how?  
Having a medical background has been very useful. For example, I used to work in microbiology, a field where disease causing bacteria is detected and grown for identification and treatment. Antibiotics weren’t in use until after the First World War, but doctors noticed that the wounds of soldiers infested with maggots didn’t go bad (become infected). Maggot debridement therapy, as the practice is known as today, is still in use to treat wounds in patients with decreased blood flow to the extremities (diabetics for example).

All three books take place in Belgium against the backdrop of WWI. Why did you find this time and place so appealing? 
If you ask a person about WW1 they usually think of the trenches, but the civilian casualties were quite high as well. The Belgian people were treated poorly by the German military by taking whatever they wanted from the Belgians (food, clothing, horses, housing, etc…). Nearer to the end of the war, the German military even took their last major form of transportation, their bicycles, to melt down the metal for ammunition. This was the last straw, the final insult as far as the Belgian people were concerned. To this day, if you ask someone from Belgium what they’d want from Germany, they’ll probably answer: a bicycle.

You probably have many, but is there a scene in any of the books that you particularly enjoyed writing?
It might sound odd, but the scenes where there’s a bit of humor are my favorite. Humor is a coping skill people often employ when they’re under stress. This is something I witnessed many times when I worked in hospital ERs. In Enticing the Spymaster, there’s a scene where hero Captain Michael Lawrence is trying to find out why the heroine, Judith, has never married. She replies that she discovered some very deplorable habits in all her suitors and rejected them. Michael eventually figures out that to find this information out, she talked to their mistresses. He is, of course, properly horrified by the notion.

What scene posed the greatest challenge for you as an author?
The scene in Aiding the Enemy where Herman makes the decision to amputate his brother’s hand against his brother’s wishes. I cried writing that scene. There’s nothing worse than hearing a loved one tell you they want to die.

If you could sit down and talk with one of your characters, maybe meet and discuss things over drinks, who would you choose and why?
If I could sit down with any of them, it would be Rose. I’d like to ask her where she got her courage and determination from. I’d like to ask if I could borrow just a little of her courage and determination once in a while.

Do you see yourself in Maria, Judith or Rose and is there one of them you wish you were more like?
I see myself as Maria more than the other two characters. She’s been through some awful stuff to get where she is, but she’s determined not to let it hold her back from happiness either.

If you had to choose between Lieutenant John Bennet, British Expeditionary Force Captain Michael Lawrence or Dr. Herman Geoff, who would you pick and why? 
I can only choose one? That’s a tough question because I love all three for different reasons. But, I suppose if I have to choose one over the others it would be John Bennet. He’s very much like my husband in many ways.

What do you hope readers come away with after reading your work?
I hope readers come away with a new appreciation for the war and the women who fought to save lives during it in some pretty horrible conditions.

Finally, what is next for you? Any new projects waiting in the wings?
I have a story just released this week in a five author anthology called Timeless Keepsakes – A Collection of Christmas Stories. In my story, Secret Santa, A nurse grieving the death of her twin brother receives an unusual gift at the staff secret Santa party: the bullet that killed him along with a message of hope and love.
I also have two books coming out in early 2014 with Entangled Publishing. One is a romantic suspense called, Molly Gets Her Man, and the other is a medical romance that’s part of a medical continuity series with Entangled called Skin Deep.

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About the Author: Julie Rowe’s first career as a medical lab technologist in Canada took her to the North West Territories and northern Alberta, where she still resides. She loves to include medical details Julie Rowein her romance novels, but admits she’ll never be able to write about all her medical experiences because, “No one would believe them!”. In addition to writing contemporary and historical medical romance, and fun romantic suspense for Entangled Publishing and Carina Press, Julie has a short story in the Mammoth Book of ER Romance (releasing Sept 15, 2013). Her book SAVING THE RIFLEMAN (book #1 WAR GIRLS) won the novella category of the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Her writing has also appeared in several magazines such as Romantic Times Magazine, Today’s Parent, and Romantic Times Magazine. For more information, please visit Julie Rowe’s website.  You can also find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

About the Book ~ Saving the Rifleman: German-occupied Brussels, Belgium. Great War, 1914. British Red Cross nurse Maria Hunt lives in daily fear that the Germans will uncover her secret: she helps wounded British soldiers escape. Lieutenant John Bennet is wounded and running out of options. Trapped behind enemy lines while collecting intelligence, he needs to get out of Belgium if he's going to escape with the information and his life. Maria is devoted to her patients and her cause, but something else compels her to risk her life for this soldier. While a man of Lieutenant Bennet's station would barely speak to her in other circumstances, something in his kind eyes inspires a passion deep within her. As his injuries worsen, can Maria find the courage to guide him through the war-torn countryside? And should they make it back to England, will their burgeoning desire survive the ravages of war?

About the Book ~ Enticing the Spymaster: German-occupied Brussels, Belgium. April 1915. Judith Goddard is hiding in plain sight. A dual citizen with family ties to Belgian royalty and the British military, she works as a Red Cross nurse in a German hospital, learning what she can, ever fearful her true allegiance will be discovered. British Expeditionary Force Captain Michael Lawrence is on a mission to rescue the daughter of his mentor. He doesn't expect to find a strong beautiful woman in place of the naïve girl whose love he rejected years earlier. Jude is shocked when Michael turns up in her hospital, wounded and in German uniform. Though he broke her heart, she agrees to flee Belgium with him—she has information about an imminent attack that she must deliver to the British War Office, before it's too late. Posing as a married couple, Jude and Michael journey to the border, in constant danger of discovery—and of giving in to their mutual passion…

About the Book ~ Aiding the Enemy: German-occupied Brussels, Belgium. December 1915. Rose Culver is in grave danger. For months the Red Cross head nurse has been aiding Allied soldiers caught behind enemy lines, helping them flee into neutral Netherlands. It's only a matter of time until she's caught. Which makes it the wrong time to fall in love with a handsome German military doctor as devoted to the sanctity of human life as she is. The Great War has caused Dr. Herman Geoff to question everything he once believed. He knows Rose has been hiding British soldiers in her hospital—he's even treated some of them, refusing to go against his own Hippocratic oath. As a doctor, he admires Rose's skill and conviction. As a man, he can no longer deny his attraction to her. But when Rose is arrested for treason, Herman must choose between love for her and duty to his country…

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Check out all the stops on Julie Rowe's Aiding the enemy VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR

Monday, November 11
Review, Guest Post & Giveaway at Romantic Historical Reviews
Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, November 12
Review at Just One More Chapter
Interview & Giveaway at Book-alicious Mama
Wednesday, November 13
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Thursday, November 14
Interview & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary
Friday, November 15
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Guest Post & Giveaway at History Undressed

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