What inspired you to write The War Nurse?
I wanted to write a strong, flawed nurse heroine in a setting where normal society breaks down and explore her survival choices. Bataan’s place in history has always been murky to me. For one, take away the timeline differences, and Manila and all the military outposts in the Philippines were bombed within the same twenty-four hours as Pearl Harbor.
For years the sacrifices at Pearl Harbor were revisited during annual memorial events, but Bataan wasn’t mentioned. Those men were unbelievably brave. When surrendered they were put on a forced walk without food or water in the tropical heat known as the Bataan death march. If they survived combat, the death march, and POW camps, they were loaded on Hell ships like cattle to work as slave labor in Japan. There’s a reason the men called themselves ‘the Battlin’ Bastards of Bataan.’ They felt forgotten during the war and after.
I put the Stahl family residing in New York into internment camps on American soil after reading about one of the men on the Doolittle Raid whose parents and siblings were in a camp. His German family was quietly released. I followed the story chain from there.
Katarina Stahl, an American Red Cross nurse, is the main character in The War Nurse. Can you tell us a bit about her? How did your own personal experiences as a nurse shape the character of Katarina?
She’s born in a southern city, New Orleans, and has a twin sister. After Jack Gallagher breaks up with her at her sister’s wedding, she heads to California. From there, Kat escorts a doctor’s mother who had a stroke from San Francisco to Manila. This short history should clue the reader in to the fact that she busts stereotypes with her streak of independence and sense of adventure.
What Kat and I have in common is we both like change and we’re resilient. I moved between beside nursing, administrator, teacher, and nurse researcher in my career. To motivate myself I’d learn all about my current job, get certified, and then move on. I think the constant learning made me a better nurse.
What was the hardest scene to write?
The war overshadows everything like a dark cloud. People had moments of laughter but they never lasted. When you live under a dark cloud, everything you do is influenced by it. Many of the scenes were difficult, but the final ones building up with her nemesis were gut-wrenching.
What was your favorite scene to write?
I liked every scene with Kat and Jack. They had to squeeze in a lot of loving in 4 months while under horrendous stress.
What do you want readers to take away from The War Nurse?
Women in that time period were strong and brave. We often talk about them as homemakers and such, but a few were incredibly daring and took many risks in the war zone. Kat is modeled off real women. Many civilian nurses worked beside the Army nurses and followed them into the internment camp. Another civilian, Claire Phillips, played a dangerous, risky spy game for years before the Japanese arrested her. She amazed me. The POWs didn’t know her real name, they knew her moniker, High Pockets, but they mentioned her during interviews after the war ended. She was awarded the Medal of Freedom (the highest honor for a civilian) for her war contributions, and yes, she was tortured in the same manner as Katarina.
What historical time period do you gravitate towards the most with your personal reading?
Mid Modern to Contemporary (Modern) periods. That said, I’m a sucker for the Elizabethan period too.
What do you like to do when you aren't writing?
I like sailing but I’m the first to admit, I’ve got loads to learn. It’s a beautiful moment when the sails catch the wind and the boat glides across the water in silence.
What was the first historical novel you read?
Gone with the Wind. This started a life-long addiction to long books, and I’m sorry I cut The War Nurse trying to make the suggested word counts.
What is the last historical novel you read?
Go Away Home by Carol Bodensteiner
If there was a soundtrack for your novel, what songs might we find on it?
There’s a local restaurant that plays 1940 songs and I got their hit list: "Chattanooga Choo Choo" by Glenn Miller, "I'll Be Seeing You" Frank Sinatra, "I'll Walk Alone" Dianh Shore, "I'll Never Smile Again", Frank Sinatra, “Who Wouldn't Love You,” Kay Kyser, “White Christmas,” Bing Crosby, “A String of Pearls”, Glenn Miller, “You’ll Never Know”, Dick Haymes, “Till the End of Time,” Perry Como.
I liked listening to big band music and also played a lot of Harry Connick Jr. too. Especially “We Are In Love.” I love his voice.
You've written across several genres - mystery, thriller, romance, and now historical - what is next for you? Will you be writing another historical in the future?
Absolutely. My research is a mess, but I have a timeline. I’m putting the papers together. I’ll start writing soon after I launch my next medical thriller in January. There is one detail I’m still trying to track down, but I’m not sure I’ll get lucky. Historical people are so secretive, aren’t they? We dig and dig, but sometimes the answers stay hidden.
About the Book
Publication Date: January 14, 2014 | BRY Publishing | Formats: eBook, Paperback | Pages: 382
Genre: Historical Fiction
CHAPTER ONE EXCERPT.
This historical thriller begins on the eve of WWII in the Philippines. Katarina Stahl an American Red Cross nurse, is the happiest she’s ever been in her life. She’s making love and playing music with Jack Gallagher in an idyllic paradise. Their medical mission is over, the boat tickets to home are purchased, and all that remains is to fly a sick child to the hospital at Clark Air Field.
She never expected to witness bombs falling out of planes. In those terrifying first minutes, she frees a German doctor accused of spying and saves his life. She turns to nursing the injured, unaware she’s unleashed an obsession more dangerous to her and those she loves, than the war she’s trapped in.
Doctor von Wettin, the man she freed, finds Katarina pregnant and starving in a POW camp after the surrender. He begs her to nurse his bed-ridden wife. She knows other Americans will despise her, but wants her baby to live after surviving Bataan. Their uneasy alliance is destroyed when she discovers he exploited Red Cross diplomatic channels and contacts at the German embassy to wire money to her parents. His benevolent mask slips when he informs her that her brothers and parents are interned on Ellis Island.
When the Stahl family is swept up in the FBI’s dragnet, Josep Stahl believes it’s all a misunderstanding. He’s interrogated like a criminal at the city jail, a military camp, Ellis Island, and then the civilian internment camps in Texas. His anger and pride blind him. One by one in this painful family drama, his wife and sons join him behind barbed wire in. There they face ostracism, segregation, and, most frightening, repatriation.
Katarina begins an even more terrifying journey into depraved darkness as Manila descends into occupation and chaos. The doctor threatens everyone she loves: infant son, POW husband, and Filipino friends. She’ll do anything to protect them; she lies, steals, and smuggles. As the war turns against the Japanese, they withhold the doctor’s wife’s life-saving medications until he finds a hidden radio inside the civilian internment camp. If Katarina refuses to help him, her son pays the price.
Survival has corrupted Katarina; but she’s not about to become his camp rat. After years of hell, she’s earned her nickname, war nurse. Doctor von Wettin is about to find out what that means.
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R.V. Doon is a bookie! Seriously, she’s an avid reader who also loves to write. She writes across genres, but confesses she’s partial to historical fiction and medical thrillers. She’s addicted to black coffee, milk chocolate, and raspberries. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s learning to sail. Doon reports after a career of implementing doctor’s orders, she’s having trouble being a deck hand and following the captain’s orders. Doon lives in Mobile, Alabama, a haunted and historical city, with her husband and two dogs.
For more information please visit R.V. Doon's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Amazon.
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The War Nurse Blog Tour ScheduleMonday, November 24
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, November 25
Review at Unshelfish
Review at CelticLady's Reviews
Wednesday, November 26
Guest Post at What Is That Book About
Thursday, November 27
Spotlight at Book Babe
Friday, November 28
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection
Saturday, November 29
Spotlight at Passages to the Past
Sunday, November 30
Review at Carole's Ramblings
Monday, December 1
Review at Luxury Reading
Tuesday, December 2
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Wednesday, December 3
Review at Book Nerd
Thursday, December 4
Spotlight at Boom Baby Reviews
Review at Svetlana Reads and Views
Friday, December 5
Spotlight at Caroline Wilson Writes
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