I’m so pleased to introduce you to a friend and fellow author, Carrie-Anne Brownian. You may know Carrie-Anne from her presence on Weekend Writing Warriors and earlier on Six Sentence Sunday. Carrie-Anne has shared many snippet from her many historical novels, all set in the early to mid twentieth century. Carrie-Anne has just published one of her books (under the pen name Ursula Hartlein) and another is set to release later in June.
I do a lot of drafting, editing, and revising in my head. I’ve had quite a few books and storylines memorized backwards and forwards in my head before I finally wrote them down. Inevitably, many things change while they’re in the mental queue. And as I’m writing a first draft, many times even planned storylines, characters, and plot developments change from what I had long envisioned, as more of the story takes shape.
One of those moments came when I was creating my World War II Bildungsroman And Jakob Flew the Fiend Away from a long short story/piece of back story about a longtime secondary character. The story had always been that he met his future wife Rachel on a brief relief assignment at Westerbork near the end of the war. However, as I was expanding Jakob’s story into a full-length novel (which turned out to need two volumes for all the material!), I began thinking of how much more interesting it would be if he and Rachel had actually met earlier, and he’d become obsessed with her. It would be destiny that they ended up meeting again so much time later.
With this important change, there’s a lot more meat to their love story. While a lot of people who barely knew one another paired off at lightning speed after the liberation, they’re compelled by more than just feeling lonely and wanting to start a new family after being left alone in the world. It also gave Jakob more inner turmoil, since he’s put up an iron wall around his heart and is denying to his friends his obvious feelings for this girl he met by chance and couldn’t stop thinking about. Later on, he stumbles upon her former hiding place and finds some of her belongings, which only creates an even stronger connection to her.
A number of other important plot shifts happened while writing my contemporary historical Bildungsroman Little Ragdoll, which was inspired by the story behind The Four Seasons’ famous song “Rag Doll.” I got the idea for this story back in May 1993, at age thirteen, after I first heard the story behind the song. I just had to give that unknown young girl a happy ending with a rich boy who loves her just the way she is, though there are a lot of dark twists and turns on the way to happy ever after. The discontinued original first draft of 1993-94 was even darker, like a Grimms’ fairytale on acid!
My favorite subplot was the love story between Allen and Lenore. My original plan was for Allen and Lenore to get together a lot sooner, but to my adult writer self, it made more sense to wait awhile. Lenore is only fifteen to Allen’s eighteen, and isn’t comfortable with letting any man touch her after what she’s survived. Forcing them to wait created great dramatic tension, particularly after they each lead the other to believe they’re in unrequited love with someone else. Lenore runs away in the middle of the night in a snowstorm because she’s so heartbroken, and Allen goes to find her, slowly nurses her back to health, and finally tells her how he feels on her eighteenth birthday. I was looking forward to writing the chapter about their romance with such anticipation, and felt so satisfied and excited when it finally arrived.
One of the numerous other changes was the age of my protagonist Adicia’s eventual husband Ricky. I’d always planned them as the same age, but that couldn’t work with the big plot twist in Part IV, when Ricky is drafted. During my research, I discovered 1972 draftees were born in 1952. He had to be two years older than Adicia. And since I wanted to make him a Cancer like Adicia, I got the unexpected, added bonus of the lottery number 88, one of the last numbers to be called during the last active year of the draft.
Jakob DeJonghe can think of nothing but revenge when the Nazis coerce his father into suicide and his little sister mysteriously disappears the day before Yom Kippur 1940. As conditions in Amsterdam worsen, Jakob is determined to fight back and be the master of his own destiny, just as his heroes the Maccabees did in ancient times.
In November 1942, he feels his chance has finally come. Knowing it’s now or never, Jakob seizes an opportunity to jump from a death train, severely breaking his foot as he lands. As he limps for his life towards a forest, he’s found by four young resistance fighters and taken to a safe house. Even though Jakob has been left with a permanent limp, he’s still determined to defend his country and track down the men who killed his father.
His dream comes true when he joins his new friends’ resistance group after his seventeenth birthday, but after a chance meeting with a spirited young woman on one of his missions, he’s jolted by emotions he thought he’d buried. As much as he tries to deny it, he can’t stop thinking about her, even during the dark days of the brutal Hongerwinter. After he’s recruited into the Princess Irene Brigade and made a real soldier, Jakob realizes his battle is only half-won. If he ever wants to survive a world that will never be ordinary again, love and not hate will have to carry him through. And if he finds his dream girl again, this painful readjustment just might be easier.
And Jakob Flew the Fiend Away is available now on Amazon.