Friday, February 9, 2018

Guest Post: The Circumstance behind The Circumstantial Enemy



The Circumstantial Enemy is an energetic journey to freedom through minefields of hatred, betrayal, lust and revenge. It’s a story about the strength of the human spirit, and the power of friendship, love and forgiveness.
The novel was released in October 2017. There is a twist to the title; The Circumstantial Enemy was written by a circumstantial author. Why do I categorize myself as such? For starters, I’d never felt a burning desire to write a book. But that all changed with one potent statement from my daughter. Seventeen years ago she said, “If you don’t write it, Grandad’s story will be lost forever.” I’ll never forget the yearning in her eyes. Though in good health, Grandad was 80 years old at the time and he wasn’t about to be the first human being to live forever. The family had heard his tales over and over again – trials and tribulations of a young Croatian pilot coerced onto the wrong side of WWII.
My daughter wasn’t requesting a book; a stapled record of the events would suffice. I reasoned that I was not a writer; the defense was feeble, partly because I had the time to write. My career as a CEO of a large company had ended and I’d embarked on consulting work that required a heap of travel and plenty of lonely nights in hotels. I also had to admit that preserving Grandad’s captivating story for his decedents was incredibly compelling. So began my journey as an author.
Thrilled by the opportunity, Grandad agreed to a host of interviews. I was no longer a passive listener. I treated our exchanges as might a journalist – probing for details and questioning events that seemed overstated. The most interesting revelation was his frankness. He soon forgot the recorder was on, revealing more than ever before – some of it both shocking and disturbing. Between the sessions I checked his facts to validate timelines and ensure life in POW camps on US soil were as described. Simultaneously, I read relevant non-fiction books to better understand time, place and prisoner predicament.  
When writing began, I found myself thinking as might a novelist – the notion that fiction hinges on the characters and what they want. Grandad had wanted freedom from repression. A year later, I had completed his biography. With enough copies printed for the family and a few generations to come, I thought I was done as an author. Not so. I’d been infected by that burning desire to write.
I went on to compose business-related blogs about leadership, strategy and branding on my website CEOafterlife.com. Three years and a 100+ blogs later, I thought back to Grandad’s story. There was so much to it. So much that had never been told before. I wondered if I could dramatize that fascinating journey to freedom and redemption into a thrilling novel. A couple of thousand words of fiction later, I realized my naivety; I was in over my head but that didn’t snuff my inspiration. I didn’t write another word for a year – reading every self-help book I could get my hands on regarding the writing of fiction.
Following the conventional process of research, writing, editing, rewriting (ad nauseam), and seeking an agent and/or publisher, The Circumstantial Enemy came to fruition eight years later. I’m already working on the plot for a prequel and a sequel.
About The Circumstantial Enemy
When Croatia becomes a Nazi puppet state in 1941, carefree pilot Tony Babic finds himself forcibly aligned with Hitler’s Luftwaffe. Unbeknownst to Tony, his sweetheart Katarina and best friend Goran have taken the side of the opposing communist partisans. The threesome are soon to discover that love and friendship will not circumvent this war’s ideals. Downed by the Allies in the Adriatic Sea, Tony survives a harrowing convalescence before being shipped to a prisoner of war camp in America.  But with the demise of the Third Reich, he considers the kind of life that awaits him in the homeland under communist rule. Will he be persecuted as an enemy of the state for taking the side of Hitler? And then there is Katarina; in letters she confesses her love, but not her deceit… Does her heart still belong to him?
About John R. Bell
John was born in Chigwell, UK and now resides in Vancouver, Canada. Before becoming an author of business books and historical fiction, he was the CEO of a Fortune 500 company and a global strategy consultant.
Blog:         CEOafterlife.com
Twitter:     @JohnRichardBell
LinkedIn:     John Richard  Bell

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