Seven hundred miles away in Berlin, war-weary firefighter Karl is haunted by the images he's seen both on the home front and in Russia. Now he takes command of a group of teenage auxiliaries who find themselves on the front lines of Germany's defenses against a nightly rain of fire. On a call, he meets Ursula, a young woman who lives near his station. Karl quickly finds himself falling for her, unaware that she is playing a dangerous game, one which might place his own life in danger.
As the raid unfolds, they face choices which will forever change them, and those they love.
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Award winning author Lee Hutch grew up on the Texas/Louisiana border. As a child, he enjoyed reading history books and hanging around fire stations. As an adult, he entered the fire service and worked as both a firefighter and then an arson investigator before an injury led to his retirement. Along the way, he picked up a BA and an MA in History and an MS in Criminal Justice. He now teaches history for a community college in Southeast Texas. He loves books, cats, boxing, the Red Sox, and the New Orleans Saints.
His historical interests include the history of the fire service, particularly how firefighters have adapted to wartime conditions, the American Civil War, and the World Wars. When he's not in the classroom or in his office, Lee can be found reading or listening to either a Red Sox or a Saints game on the radio with his cat Anastasia. His next novel is set in Civil War era New York.
Learn more on Lee's Website
INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR
It really wasn’t. I’m an audiobook enthusiast, but the reason I wasn’t conscious of it while writing it was due to the wide variety of character accents. I wasn’t sure a single narrator could handle all of that. I posted the book for auditions on ACX but it was rather like a pipe dream on my part. I really wasn’t sure I’d be able to find anyone willing to give it a go. You can imagine my joy when I found the perfect narrator.
How did you select your narrator?
Siobhan was the second audition that I received. The audition clip was, I believe, around three and a half minutes long. However, I knew within the first twenty seconds that she was the one to do the book. Knowing some other authors who have gone through the same process, they all told me that when you heard the right audition, you’d just know. My experience certainly confirmed that.
Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
Yes. As a retired firefighter, I know my way around a fire station and the fireground. The camaraderie of Karl and his crew was very much drawn from my own experiences. Also, when I was in grad school working on my MA in History, I conducted research into the German Fire Service during World War Two and had the opportunity to interview several individuals who worked during the war either as professional firefighters or as auxiliary firefighters. Readers or listeners will also observe that both Karl and Michael struggle with nightmares and intrusive memories. This is also drawn from personal experience as I suffer the same as it relates to my own career.
Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
I listen to 65-70 books a year, about 2/3rds of it fiction and the rest non-fiction. I spend about two hours in the car every day, and it is a nice way to take a book with you on the go. But that’s not the real reason why I like audiobooks. I’m a HUGE fan of old time radio dramas like Dragnet, Gunsmoke, etc. Listening to a novel, with all of the characters having distinctive voices and hearing the emotion in the voice of the narrator is rather like listening to a classic radio program.
Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
Siobhan did an incredible job with Ursula’s character. Her narration of the chapter in which Ursula is making her way through the streets of Berlin as an air raid is in progress with the Gestapo on her heels will definitely stick with the listener. That scene is my favorite in the book because of the narration!
If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go?
Since I teach history after my retirement from the fire department, I get asked this question a lot. Honestly, I’m rather happy to live in the present world since I like having access to things like anti-biotics and modern medicine. That said, there is one place and time I would want to visit. I’d like to go to Russia, right before the Revolution and attend a ball at the Winter Palace so I could ask Maria Nikolaevna Romanova for a dance. She’s been my history crush since I first saw a picture of her when I was 12 or 13.
If this title were being made into a TV series or movie, who would you cast to play the primary roles?
I actually wrote a blog post about this right after the book came out. I think it would make a great four part series. (Netflix….are you reading this?) I would like Grace Robinson to be played by Rachel Hurd-Wood. Michael O’Hanlon should be played by Liam Ainsworthy. To play Ursula Müller, I would pick Sophie Turner. And last but not least, Karl Weber absolutely has to be played by Volker Bruch.
How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?
Unfortunately, my injuries and the lingering complications prevent me from doing much in the way of excitement. So there was no jetting off to Tahiti or spending a month in the Bahamas after the first draft was finished. When my editor and I wrapped up our work, I had a glass of calvados and a cigar. Honestly, I was so exhausted and brain dead by that point that I doubt I’d have been up to a wild party even if I was physically able to get around a bit more than I am.
Do you have any tips for authors going through the process of turning their books into audiobooks?
Trust. Your. Narrator. I know your book is your baby, but just like a parent has to step away and let the child take over their own lives when they reach adulthood, so too must the author put their book in the narrator’s hands and then let the narrator work their magic. Don’t try to micromanage. You picked your narrator for a reason, so let them do their work. If you’ve written a novel, remember that your narrator is truly an actor/actress, and just as those who perform on stage and film have the freedom to interpret characters from the script, allow your narrator the freedom to interpret the characters they will be playing.
What’s next for you?
I’ve finished my second novel, tentatively titled Molly’s Song. It is set in Civil War era New York and New Orleans. It goes off to my editor in the spring and I’m shooting for a Fall 2020 release. In May, I’ll start writing my third novel, which I am presently calling Dark Raven. It will be set in Russia between the years 1912 and 1921.
I record High Quality Voiceover in variations of my native South London accent - I can offer both bright and enthusiastic commercial reads, or a more laid back and enigmatic explainer style.
I have lots of experience in Explainers, E-Learning, Commericals, Audiobooks, and more.
I work in VO full time, and deliver high quality audio from my fully equipped home recording in South West London, always including amends or pick ups as needed to ensure complete client satisfction.
I use Source Connect or Cleanfeed for remote record-directed sessions and I can travel in and around London and the South East for studio based jobs.
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