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The Fortress by Madeleine Romeyer Dherbey - Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway
by Madeleine Romeyer Dherbey
GENRE: WWII Historical
The war has not made much of difference in Alix’s life. Her father has seen to it that she grows up unaware, unworried, but safe in her tiny village under the cliffs of the Vercors. All around her he has built a fortress whose walls are impregnable—until the 27th of April, 1944. That day he makes a stupid mistake up on the cliff, and the walls of the Fortress start crashing down. Reality breaks into Alix’s life with unrelenting violence, unforeseen possibilities. From now on, every decision she makes will mean life or death.
Six weeks before D-Days, a thousand kilometers from the beaches of Normandy.
There are no generals in the French Vercors, just a handful of men and women against the Nazi war machine. They come from Bretagne, Paris, and Slovenia, and the villages up on the cliff. They are the Fortress.
“Honey, if anybody’s looking for it up here, it means you’re already dead. So it won’t matter to you. Listen now. People will call you on the other phone, the one downstairs, and give you coded messages. As a rule it will be about movements in our direction, Germans, Militia, or even new recruits for our camps. Remember, the security of Mortval depends on you. Here is a list of codes. You must memorize all of them and get rid of the list.”
She started to read. “The strawberries are in their juice. Your walnuts were wormy. You can’t put rabbit in the cassoulet.” She looked up. “Are they all about food?”
“No. Read the next one.”
“Yvette préfère les grosses carrottes. Well?”
“Well, it’s not about food.”
“Yvette préfère… Oh. I understand now. Did you come up with that one?”
“I thought it would be memorable.”
“It’s lovely. I bet the British are impressed.” ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I asked Madeleine how she did her world building and here is her answer:
I either get a beer, put on some Finnish Death metal, Insomnium, for example, and settle somewhere where I am not alone in the house, or I go for a long walk on the Appalachian trail—which is barely two miles away—with my dog, Mikko. I used to have to be absolutely alone to draft, but not anymore. First, I like the kids’ chatter, the disruptions, and I like taking my time. Writing is part of life, not a substitute. I set no deadlines, no word-count goals, lest it become a chore.
For the Fortress, the world already existed. I grew in the Vercors mountains, near a village called Malleval which was destroyed by the Nazis in 1944. My uncles were accused of betraying the resistants encamped there, and while kids my age worried about the future, I wondered about what had really happened, and how my family was involved. Were they Nazis, did they cause their own neighbors to be murdered? I had been building that world for so many years in fact, that when I felt ready, the characters just appeared, some jumping out of history books, others out of my childhood, and quite a few out of some recess of my mind where I didn’t know they were hiding. The inspiration came from an intense longing for that past, my past, the grandfather I never met, the father who still guides my decisions, the brother I never got to see all grown up.
The process for my up-coming book is much more purposeful, like, I know I am writing a book--as opposed to that hypnotic trance I was in during The Fortress. The first thing I told myself was, discard any idea that worms itself into the narrative because it might help sell the book. No gratuitous sex, no gratuitous violence, no easy, voyeuristic scene that is devoid of purpose. This story, centered around the federal entrapment of a young teacher, is again a world I have been steeped in for many years, and with which I already have a deep emotional connection. And it’s political! I am a school teacher, and expressing political opinion in school is forbidden—really forbidden. Besides, the likes of me are pretty much underground. We recognize each other like Christians in Rome, with a glance and a rolling of the eyes. So being able to write the ins and outs of oppression in the public school world, coupled with a the building of a fake terror plot by a branch of the federal government no one in their right mind should trust, was a bit of a catharsis for me. You will love it or hate it, depending on your allegiances, and who cares? It’s not meant to be commercial.
If I ever write another book, it will be a middle-age story, around the time of Joan of Arc. We’ll see. In any case it will NOT be a political vehicle, it was too stressful.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Madeleine Romeyer Dherbey was born in the French Alps, moved to the United States twenty-five years later, and currently lives in the mountains of Virginia with her husband, two daughters, and Mikko.