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The spy that was

Madame Fiocca Book Cover Madame Fiocca
Suzy Henderson
adult, history, YA,
Avis Press
December 2019

A must-read gripping adventure based on the true story of Nancy Wake, Gestapo’s most wanted. Soon to be a major feature film.

February 1933: Nancy Wake is a gregarious twenty-year-old looking for adventure. Having fled her unhappy family home in Sydney, she becomes a journalist and is thrilled when she is posted to Paris. The city is glamorous, brimming with journalists, artists, and a growing number of refugees.

Later, in the French Riviera, she uncovers more than news following a chance encounter with wealthy industrialist, Henri Fiocca. Their relationship blossoms as Hitler makes waves across Europe. While on an assignment in Vienna in 1938, she witnesses Nazis whipping Jews on the street and she vows to fight for justice if ever the opportunity arises.

When Henri is called to the Front to fight, Nancy, determined to help the war effort, joins the Red Cross as an ambulance driver. Every day she witnesses atrocities. When Paris falls, Nancy flees the German oppressors and returns to Marseille.

A chance encounter with a British officer draws Nancy into the heart of the Garrow escape network, despite Henri’s reservations. Soon she finds herself caught in a deadly game of espionage.

As the iron fist of the enemy tightens, neighbours denounce neighbours. When the enemy closes in, Nancy and Henri face an impossible choice. Has she done more harm than good?

Based on a true story, Madame Fiocca weaves an extraordinary tale of survival and redemption in wartime.

Interview The story of the Book

Suzy Henderson – and Madame Fiocca

Q: Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it? Why do you think it is different and your approach is unique?

Nancy was, like so many of her generation, amazing, determined, and an exceptionally strong spirit. When I first read about her, some years ago, I was quite amazed, just as I was when reading about all of the women who joined the Special Operation’s Executive to carry out clandestine work in enemy territory during WW2. All of the biographies and news articles portrayed her as this fierce Guerrilla fighter and I marvelled at how brave she was, and how dangerous the work was. How cruel war is. But then I went digging and uncovered more of the real Nancy. What I discovered both saddened and amazed me and I was entranced. The main points most people know about her are that she joined SOE, dropped into France, fought and led thousands of Maquisards into battle against the Germans. Half true. I wanted to show her other side, her feminine side and her life before the war. No other novel to date has done that.

Q: How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? Do you have a set of notes or a notebook where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time?

Deciding what to write about is a good question! I read widely, and my main interest lies in the WW2 period. I’m still not sure why that is, but that’s how it is. So, I retain all relevant newspaper articles for my own interest, as one never knows whether they’ll provide a glimmer of inspiration one day. If a story or a person piques my interest, I will note that down. For me, the process involves making notes, physical or mental, as I go along. Sometimes an idea pops up and it’s something I can make a story from. Sometimes, as in the case of my last two books, the inspiration came from real people and real events.

Q: How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book?

Research can be so lengthy, but I feel it’s a much longer process with the first book. My first novel, The Beauty Shop, took around a year or so to do the basic research, and then another two years of writing, edits and further research.

Writing about real people is definitely a complex process. I have to know enough about the person’s character, their personality, how they spoke, dressed, the list is endless. That takes time. In another period of history, I might have been forgiven for using more creative licence there, but for my time period, the real people in my books have descendants alive today, along with friends and others who knew them.

Q: What resources do you use? In general and for the last book that you wrote?

When writing and researching, I utilise numerous military history books, personal biographies and newspaper articles. I also use Google a lot to conduct research. I also make use of the BBC Archives from WW2 which is a fascinating resource brimming with first-hand witness accounts from the war – locals and veterans. There are also sites such as Bomber Command, the Imperial War Museum and the National Archives where I was able to purchase copies of Nancy Wake’s war records.

Q: How helpful do you find authority figures such as the police, medics etc when you say you want to write about them? Is there a good way to approach them in your experience?

So far in my writing, the only people I have approached for information or interviews have been either related to veterans, or veterans themselves. For my debut novel, I contacted a very helpful person from a museum which is dedicated to the men of the RAF Guinea Pig Club. Everyone has been most generous with their time and help. In seeking help, I have found the best way is to contact via email or letter in the first instance. Occasionally I have made enquiries via a third party who has managed to pass me a telephone number, having gained the person’s consent first. With regards to police or medics, I have never had any need to contact them for research. With medicine, I have quite an extensive knowledge myself as I previously worked in healthcare.

Q: If you need specialist knowledge to write a book, how do you obtain it? For instance, do you interview people? Go to the location? Use Google Earth? Apps?

I’m in the process of completing a contemporary romance, a brief escape from my beloved hist fic genre, but even that has required research. It seems there’s no escaping it. The general advice is write what you know, but if you do that there will still be things you need to research. One can never know everything. However, in search of the story, I’m a big fan of writing what you don’t know. So, a number of writers will blog about their recent adventures in Spain, or Canada, or somewhere exotic, all in the name of writing research. The reality is that unless it’s your family holiday, many people will not be able to make those trips and thanks to the internet, it really isn’t essential. I’ve been fortunate to have travelled to various places around the world, and also within my own home country. So, I’ve found that I can make use of my travels, and my memories of places quite well. As for the locations I use and have never visited, Google Earth is fabulous. I love how you can zoom right in and even drop the wee yellow man onto a street.

Q: Would you recommend self-publishing and building an audience before approaching a publisher? If so, what benefits do you see that it might have for the aspiring novelist?

I would definitely advise any new writers to establish a platform for themselves prior to approaching agents and publishers. I think that if you’re writing stories, then keeping a blog is a great idea. It’s a great base to grow from, and you will gradually discover an audience there. At the same time, set up your social media accounts. For me, I believe Twitter is vital. It delivers and I reach a wide audience. Facebook is useful as even if you don’t find much of an audience there, it’s full of useful groups for writers so it’s a valuable resource of information. Instagram is growing and reported to be a great platform for writers. So yes, do all that before pitching to agents. There is no need to self-publish first if having an agent or a publisher is important for you. Yes, it will bring you more experience, but it also means you have all the financial outlay. No agent or publisher worth their salt will expect this of any writer. They will take you on based on the quality and marketability of your writing. It’s that simple. And even the greatest writers get rejections. In building your platform, you will have a leg-up when you finally have your first book published, and that is so beneficial.

From my own experience, keeping a history blog for a few years prior to my debut release brought me a fair bit of exposure. Interestingly, while I am based in the UK, around 75% of my audience was and still is in the USA. And now the majority of my book sales are in the USA.

Q: Does writing provide sufficient income to live on? And how long did it take before this happened?

Writing and income is such a sticky topic. For me right now, it’s not a sustainable income, but I’m relieved to say that it has at least paid for itself with more left over. My editing bill for each book has been around £900, and then there’s book covers, book tours, set-up costs for paperbacks (if not using Amazon), proofing, advertising. However, I’m thinking positively of the future and I hope to increase the number of books over the coming years and see my income grow.

I know of a handful of successful self-published authors who are not so prolific on social media, but by the power of advertising have a very nice income, in excess of $70,000 per year. And then I know of others with more books than them who make nothing like that. So, it’s quite a fickle topic to speak of as there are so many factors involved. The best advice is not to give up the day job, if you have one.

Q: What is your favourite genre?

Well, that has to be historical fiction. I can’t help it, and believe me, I’ve tried. I read widely but try as I might I have yet to discover a crime novel I can truly enjoy. With historical fiction, I don’t just read WW2 stories either. I read stories about the Tudors, Vikings, and the odd regency.

Q: Which of your books are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of my debut novel, The Beauty Shop, for a number of reasons. Firstly, I was astonished by the real character, Archibald McIndoe, a pioneering plastic surgeon that not only fixed up RAF pilots and crew, when they were badly injured, but he helped them psychologically too. And I was amazed at the camaraderie and support of the club those men belonged to – the Guinea Pig Club. Not many people knew about it, and that was one of the reasons I wrote the book.

The fact that I completed the book, and self-published it, also makes me proud. There were some moments along the way that really did test me, mentally, and it took a lot of courage and foresight to persist, make the book the best I could, and publish it. Had it not have been for my amazing editor at the time, I may not have made it. She believed in me and the book, and she helped me enormously. I learned more from her during the editing process than from any writing event I have ever attended. KT Editing – she is a remarkable person.

Goodreads Amazon

Author:

Suzy Henderson lives with her husband and two sons in Cumbria, England, on the edge of the Lake District. In a previous life she was a Midwife but now works from home as a freelance writer and novelist.

 While researching her family history, Suzy became fascinated with both World War periods and developed an obsession with military and aviation history. Following the completion of an Open University Degree in English Literature and Creative Writing, she began to write and write until one day she had a novel.

 She writes contemporary and historical fiction and is a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors. Suzy’s debut novel, “The Beauty Shop”, has been awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion.

Her next novel, “Madame Fiocca” will be published in December 2019.

https://suzyhendersonauthor.com

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15954239.Suzy_Henderson

https://www.facebook.com/SuzyHendersonAuthor

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Trust no-one

The Trusted Book Cover The Trusted
The Trusted Thriller Series Book 1
by Michelle Medhat
Mystery & Thrillers, Intrigue
BooksGoSocial, Mindblowing Books Ltd
Pub Date 17 Apr 2019

He's a husband, a killer, and the only man who can save the world…

Sam Noor keeps his double lives separate with expert precision. But when the MI6 agent's wife discovers the lie, he fears that both his worlds may shatter. Distraught and conflicted, Noor concentrates on his latest mission and discovers a weapon that could cause a global catastrophe…

Drawn into the fight against a sinister terrorist group with powerful connections, Noor must uncover the faction's secrets by any means necessary. Even if it puts the woman he loves in the line of fire.

But Noor has no way of knowing that a supernatural war rages within his nation. And the winner could take charge of humanity's very soul.

Against forces that defy his reality, can Noor protect millions of innocents from a bloody end?

The Trusted is a riveting spy thriller with a dash of supernatural suspense. If you like dark action, gritty heroes, and intricately-woven plots, then you'll love Michelle Medhat's mind-blowing novel.

Buy The Trusted to watch a hero take down the terror today!

A female computer engineer – block chains are one of the latest concepts in supply chain management to ensure the validity and trustworthiness of the chain – has a husband in the Foreign Office who travels for work – abroad –  a lot. And he has a secret that she doesn’t know – even after 10 years.

And there is a plot.  And Sleeping Assassins. And quantum bombs and other elements of a good spy thriller with lots of suspense.

Unfortunately this book ends with a cliff-hanger and thus you need to start book 2 to begin to resolve it. You are given chapter 1 of book 2 and hints from the author in order to gear you to reading it.

I didn’t. The plot line and contents were too much normal genre for a spy thriller and there was not enough originality for me to continue. I am going to give this 3 stars because although the style was good it didn’t grab me enough

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Cliff hangers

Code Named: Camelot Book Cover Code Named: Camelot
Noah Wolf
David Archer
Espionage, Military thriller, Spy, Intrigue
Kindle

After witnessing the murder-suicide of his parents as a child, Noah suffers from a form of PTSD that has left him without emotion, without a conscience and without the ability to function as a normal human being. With the help of childhood friends, he learns to watch others around him and mimic their behaviors, in order to conceal the fact that his mind operates more like a computer that he has spent years programming. That program is what allows Noah to pass himself off as normal, by establishing parameters of right and wrong that are completely inviolable to him.

As a young adult, Noah finds structure in the U.S. Army, and becomes an excellent and exemplary soldier, but when his self-imposed programming is put to the test by the murderous acts of the superior officer, Noah finds himself quickly made expendable, charged with crimes he did not commit and facing the possibility of execution. Without any reasonable hope for a reprieve, Noah's logic-based mind accepts his fate.

Sometimes, though, things are not all as they seem to be, and Noah is offered one chance to save himself. It was his disability, his lack of emotion, that made him the soldier he had become. Now, an ultrasecret organization known as E & E wants Noah's talents, offering him a chance to survive…

As the most deadly assassin the world has ever known.

A new favourite author for this series. Why? Because he is really naughty and ends all his books on a cliff hanger and then includes the first 2 or 3 chapters of the follow on book to get you hooked and buying…

So you read on because of the cliff hanger, and then you buy. My only complaint is that all his women are 2 dimensional, especially Sarah in this series. I’ve now read the entire series…!

Now either the author doesn’t know London or he is deliberately trying to mislead his readers. Either way I find it irritating – I’m sure even American readers will find it so. He mixes locations, names and invents places eg the London Borough of Canary Wharf. Doesn’t exist. It is Docklands and is in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Unnecessary.  I’m not sure  why he does it.   

Books in order are:

  • The Way of the Wolf [prequel]
  • Code Name: Camelot
  • Lone Wolf
  • In Sheep’s Clothing
  • Hit for Hire
  • The Wolf’s Bite
  • Black Sheep
  • Balance of Power
  • Time to Hunt
  • Red Square
  • Highest  Order

                                                                                                                   

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One oath too far






Tom Clancy's Oath of Office Book Cover




Tom Clancy's Oath of Office




Jack Ryan





Marc Cameron





political, legal, spy, action and adventure




Michael Joseph




November 29, 2018




528



The latest thriller in Tom Clancy's internationally bestselling Jack Ryan series - inspiration for the forthcoming Amazon Prime television series. On a crowded tourist beach in Portugal, US operatives use a high-tech drone to watch a French arms dealer flirt with a beautiful woman. It's only when she leaves that they realise she has shot him dead. In Iran, protests are growing against the oppressive regime, whipped up by a charismatic student. Most external observers are excited, but on the ground a spy of questionable loyalty senses something is badly amiss. And meanwhile, with the United States reeling from a string of natural disasters, Russian troops and ships are massing on the borders of the Ukraine, bringing the two powers ever closer to war. Across the globe a conspiracy is brewing, so darkly brilliant that no-one has yet joined the dots. And the distracted President Ryan has little time to play catch-up: little does he know that he faces a madman with a plan more devastating than he could possibly imagine...

I failed to complete this book after a couple of tries – mainly because I thought the number of storylines going through it were too complicated to follow. I lost track of the names I needed to remember – and many were very difficult – and trying to remember which branch of the Russian State we were talking about – or the Iranian or or… just proved too difficult.
I am sure all the different storylines joined up somewhere but after i was more than a third of the way through the book, I still hadn’t reached that stage.
A pity as I have liked some of the previous stories about Ryan, but maybe, this is one book too many in the franchise?

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Way to Hell?






Hellbent Book Cover




Hellbent




Orphan X





Gregg Hurwitz i





war, spy, action thrillers




Michael Joseph




(22 Feb. 2018)



To some he is Orphan X. Others know him as the Nowhere Man. But to veteran spymaster Jack Johns he will always be a boy named Evan Smoak.

Taken from an orphanage, Evan was raised inside a top secret programme designed to turn him into a deadly weapon. Jack became his instructor, mentor, teacher and guardian. Because for all the dangerous skills he instilled in his young charge, he also cared for Evan like a son. And now Jack needs Evan's help.

The Orphan programme hid dark secrets. Now those with blood on their hands want every trace of it gone. And they will stop at nothing to make sure that Jack and Evan go with it.

With little time remaining, Jack gives Evan his last assignment: to find and protect the programme's last recruit. And to stay alive long enough to uncover the shocking truth .

I was hooked and really had difficulty putting it down to sleep. I just wanted to know what happened next.

This is a taut and fast paced thriller in the guns and action genre where there are lots of weapon and advanced technology talk – and lots of amazing deeds by our hero.

Our hero here is OCD, overcompensates, is emotionally retarded and a trained assassin.

Who is ably assisted by by the gutsy, feisty, screwed up foster girl with a genius IQ and quite some way with computers and programming.

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