Thursday, March 21, 2024

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Back, Terri Wangard!

Welcome Back, Terri Wangard!

I'm pleased to welcome Terri Wangard back to my blog. I just finished Seashells in My Pocket, and it is a fantastic story. Grab a "cuppa," draw up a chair, and learn a bit about the book and Terri herself.

What was your inspiration for the story?

Gail Halvorsen was a Berlin Airlift pilot (the Candy bomber) who was based in Natal, Brazil, during WWII. I knew about the Brazil Expeditionary Force that fought in Italy, but what were Americans doing in Brazil during the war? I had to learn more.

What sort of research did you do for your story, and was there an exceptionally interesting tidbit you knew you had to include?

Researching Brazil is hard. Very few sources exist. It was nothing like researching the air war in Europe for my B-17 series. I picked up little tidbits here and there. I found a navy photographer’s book of photos that proved to be invaluable.

One tidbit I had to use came from a Gail Halvorsen interview. He talked about Dauntless dive bombers available for the pilots’ recreational use. That proved to be a big part in my story and I nearly had to take it out.

Have you ever considered writing under a pseudonym? Why or why not?

My surname isn’t common, so there was no need to. I do know of a Robert Wangard who wrote legal thrillers. He was probably a shirttail relative and is now deceased. Not likely to cause confusion.

How are your characters like you? Different?

I live vicariously through my heroines. They’re everything I’m not. They know multiple languages, are excellent seamstresses, artists, mathletes. I haven’t had a musician yet; I’ll have to keep that in mind. Many of them travel, which I used to do. Of course, I traveled during peacetime.

If your book is part of a series: Did you set out to write a series? Why did you decide to write a series?

This is book one of Unsung Stories of WWII. My original idea was war brides from unexpected
places. In other words, not England or France. While I’m not emphasizing the war bride aspect so much, the first two books followed that idea. The third story fell apart before I started writing and no longer has a foreign bride.

How has your book changed since your first draft?

The biggest change came in the final edit. Remember those Dauntless dive bombers? The hero and his pals took some bombs to do a little hunting. My editor questioned whether bombs would be available for recreational flights. Um, probably not. I had to scramble for a plausible solution because that scene is pivotal for future events in the story.

If you were to write a spin-off book about one of your secondary characters, which one would you choose and why?

The series is based on three friends who enter the service as pilots of very different aircraft. Daniel mentions his friends Stefan and John. Stefan stars in book two and John in book three. While their names come up in each other’s books, their paths don’t cross in the novels.

How do you come up with storylines?

Pixabay/Bob Williams
With the men, it was easy. They’re military pilots in a war. For the women, I needed realistic reasons for them to meet the men. With Seashells, a Brazilian woman gets a job on the air base. Her German ancestry raises havoc. Daniel is a return character from my WWI book, The Storm Breaks Forth, where he was the main character’s baby nephew. His cousin Gloria returns in book three. I find it fun to revisit my characters.

What draws you to the time period about which you write?

My debut novel was inspired by a batch of letters written in the immediate postwar years by distant cousins in Germany who received care packages from the American family branches. I didn’t intend to write more WWII, but an editor said I’d probably need a series to be offered a contract. I took time out for my Lusitania/WWI books, but came back to WWII because there are aspects that haven’t been touched.

How does/did your job prepare you for being a novelist?

I was a librarian. I love books. I love research. I always have a book at hand. Writing my own books flowed out of that.

What was your favorite childhood book and why?

The Flicka, Ricka, Dicka series by Maj Lindman. Three little sisters have all kinds of adventures. I like series and revisiting beloved characters.

About Seashells in My Pocket

German-Brazilian Isabel Neumann delights in creating seashell art, but it’s her mathematical ability that lands her a job at the American air base in Natal, northern Brazil during World War II. She doesn’t need a calculator to determine the correct weights and balances for the Air Transport Command’s cargo planes.

Daniel Lambert, an American transport pilot based at Natal, endures the taunts of combat pilots that he is “allergic to combat.” His flying skills win him respect, however, and his friendship with Isabel deepens, even as a new source of trouble looms.

Isabel is caught in the crosshairs of a German saboteur who is obsessed with her. He insists that she belongs with him, and demands that she help him sabotage the Allied base. Her growing relationship with Daniel angers the Nazi, who will do anything to get of rid him. What will happen to Isabel if the madman captures her?

Social Media Links/Website:

Instagram: @terriwangard

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