3) Does that imply that some of the scenes in The Day Before the Berlin Wall are drawn from personal experience?
Answer: They always say that you should write what you know. I do. I would, however, like to caveat this answer with a quote from W.T. Tyler's Last Train from Berlin: "You should never accept anything I tell you at face value. Remember it, never forget it. You should never credit anything a professional intelligence officer tells you about an operation or the personalities involved, never. It doesn't matter whether an operation took place twenty years ago or yesterday, whether an operation is blown, retired, or made to seem officially closed. There's always someone or something left to protect."
4) How much research did you have to do for this book? Did you learn anything that surprised you?
Answer: To get in the mood for the novel, I re-read a number of the classic works on the Berlin Wall, like Cate's The Ides of August, and I looked at many of the memoirs about the period that came out after the Fall of the Wall, like Beschloss' book, The Crisis Years: Kennedy and Khrushchev (1960-1961). The quotes in his book from key figures of the period were surprises to me.
Lucius D. Clay, the former military governor of the U.S. Zone, Germany (1947–49) and the "father" of the Berlin Airlift (1948–1949), felt that "we might have been able to have stopped the Wall from being built that night," if the American Commandant of Berlin had taken action, "even if he had been in violation of his instructions, he would have succeeded and he would have been forgiven and he would have become a very great man."
The senior statesman Dean Acheson, former U.S. Secretary of State under President Harry S. Truman (1949 to 1953), was of the same opinion. "If we had acted vigorously … we might have been able to accomplish something."
The West-German commentator on Soviet Affairs Wolfgang Leonhard stated "that the leadership in East Berlin would have backed down if the West had stood up to them."
Those all said to me that the "legend" I'd heard in Berlin all those years ago was more likely true than not.
5) While stationed in Germany, did you hear the “legend” spoken about a lot?
Answer: It was the subject of an essentially never-ending debate the whole time I was there. It ebbed as some participants finished their tours in Berlin and went home. It picked up again when their replacements arrived from the States. Some argued that Kennedy would never have permitted such a thing. Others took a more cynical view. I'm afraid that I have joined the cynical crowd.
The legend is amazingly alive and well. When I announced The Day Before the Berlin Wall on a Berlin veterans’ list, the first response was, "What do you mean 'legend' in quotes? I was there, and it really happened."
6) Did you spend more time writing or doing research for the book?
Answer: Definitely more time went into the writing and editing, and re-editing, and did I mention editing, than went into the research. Once I put the characters on-page in a particular situation, they would start talking, and I was hard pressed sometimes to keep up with what they were saying. But that's just the first draft. The work gets harder after that.
7) Is historical fiction the genre you prefer to write in? Why or why not? Have you written books in any other genre?
Answer: My longer works are all historical. My short stories tend to fantasy and science fiction. My first published story was entitled The Sorcerer's Apprentice in the Modern Age. It is about a sorcerer's apprentice who couldn't understand computers. He could recite endless incantations in Latin, Greek and Arabic, but he couldn't remember the keyboard short-cuts on the computer that ran the guided tour to his wizard's haunted castle. No matter what he did, the computer just "went nuts." The wizard didn't want to get rid of his apprentice, because apprentices who can read Greek and Latin don't grow on trees, so the wizard installed a logging printer on the computer, for when the guests inevitably didn't show up at the exit at the appointed time. All he had to do then was read the print-out to learn what the guests had been turned into and where, and go turn them back into guests. These kinds of surprises were just what the touring public had been looking for, so the wizard was making more money than the last time he had had an alchemist in the basement making gold. The story was pretty profitable for me too. I sold it to a computer magazine.
If any of you would like to purchase a copy of The Day Before the Berlin Wall, below I have provided a link to Amazon.