There be spoilers ahead!
Someone recently asked me, what topics in your books are relevant to today’s issues? As you know, I write historical fiction and dark fantasy. So it may seem that I am either looking back or looking high. But to write, you have to be in the here and now. Nothing makes better writing than up to date knowledge and experiences, with the grace of history.
Writing is very much about the human condition, wrapped up in interesting tales that make it easily swallowed by the reader. The lessons contained in any book can be the sour grapes that turn them away. So you want to avoid beating people over the head with what you’re trying to say about certain human experience and histories.
Clearly, OP-DEC is about World War II and Nazis. This topic has been covered by all kinds of media, including the video for Duran Duran’s New Moon on Monday. Keeping it fresh can be quite a challenge. Readers may be drawn to the familiar subject, but engaging them further means exploring some of the lesser covered, or ignored topics.
When I wrote OP-DEC, I was not thinking of how it would coincide with current events. In 2012, it spoke more to the historical struggles of women in a man’s world: Claire, Aunt Noreen, and Claire’s mother. These are struggles still experienced today by women, to a less obvious extent that has led to complacency of all concerned. However, five years on, we see the #MeToo movement and the rise in discussions of abuse, including domestic violence, and assault.
But what no one probably recognizes is the parallel to the wealthy utilizing foreign aggressors to leverage their power over others. Carroll Healey is an engineering magnate. He approaches the German government prior to American involvement in the war, 1930s, and begins a partnership that ushers in a nefarious scheme.
Carroll doesn’t seek the presidency at this point, but he seeks greater wealth and power from a foreign government that threatens democracy and peace around the world. He supports their fascism, because fascism supports his business. Carroll is kind of smart, if you think about it. He’s hedging his business bets, believing that the United States, which was not interested in fighting a war, would not prevail against the Blitzkrieg to come. He has foresight. Carroll is also very foolish. He’s not concerned by the things he’s done to maintain his power and control, or that it could be upended by a few with justice and fairness in mind. Abiding the law is for the little people, in his opinion.
Although Carroll only has his daughter, and no minions outside of Germany assisting him in his bid, he’s very much like the current American government. He’s dangerous, sociopathic, and focused on the entitlements that he perceives for himself. Working with a foreign power to obtain those goals isn’t a betrayal, because there is no one to betray but himself. What comes first is not country but self. This is capitalism twisted by opprobrious ideology.
Much like the current administration, Carroll is susceptible to delusion and fits of anger. He reacts with the self-poison of paranoia, which you see working as a weakening force. If Twitter existed in his time, he would have had spats, called things fake news, and declared everyone crazy who opposed him. He delights even, in leveraging his daughter as a sexual prize to those he wants to control.
Uncannily similar, the government in Germany regards Carroll as a resource that is easily disposed of and worthy of mockery. You may picture Putin grinning derisively about him. The only reason to engage him is to leverage him as a tool to control his nation. Carroll’s business holds national and federal contracts. He has access to information and people. Carroll himself is not especially worth much.
I’m not prescient, per se. The truth is that history is riddled with men like this. They existed during World War II as they do now. It just happened that I wrote one a few years prior to the most recent coming to power in the White House. But, isn’t that compelling?
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