I cannot tell you how excited I was to have the opportunity to interview Douglas Jacobson. His book, Night of Flames: A Novel of World War II drew me in from the very beginning and held me captive until the last page. I will be sharing my review, right here on Books and Needlepoint, very soon.
1. Hi, Mr Jacobson. Will you tell us a little about Night of Flames and what lead you to write this book?
A: Night of Flames is a historical novel set in Europe during WW2 that tells a story of the courage of common people caught up in the greatest catastrophe of the twentieth century. The main characters are a university professor in Krakow, Poland and her husband, a cavalry officer, who become separated on the first day of the war. For the next five years they try to survive and preserve their humanity while searching for each other across war-torn Europe. I have always been interested in WW2 history but my primary inspiration came when I got to know my Belgian son-in-law’s parents who were children during the German occupation of Belgium.
2. This really is a fascinating book! Was there a specific moment when you knew you wanted to be an author?
Yes, When my friends and I wrote horror stories in fifth grade to shock the teacher. She wasn’t shocked.
3. I had to laugh at that last answer. I want to know what an 11-year old Douglas thinks is shocking! Where is your favorite place to write - and do you need anything specific while you are writing?
Door County, Wisconsin and Longboat Key, Florida. All I need is time. Peace & quiet help as well.
4. Do you have any weaknesses as a writer and how have you overcome them?
Poor vocabulary. Thank God for the built in thesaurus.
5.You have overcome that very well! Do you have any strengths as a writer and how have they helped?
I think I’m a pretty good story teller. I practice with my seven grandchildren.
6. There is nothing better than sharing stories with kids! Especially since they tend to believe just about everything! During your research, who is the most interesting person you have met - or the most fascinating place you have been?
In NIGHT OF FLAMES I wrote about an organization founded by a 24 year-old nurse in Belgium called the Comet Line. These brave people (mostly women and teenagers) rescued more than a thousand Allied aviators shot down over Belgium during WW2. Most Comet Line agents were arrested by the Gestapo and executed. After my book was published in 2007 I was privileged to meet several surviving agents on the Comet Line in Brussels. They are all ladies in their 80s who survived imprisonment and torture. When asked why they did it, they simply said, “We did it for freedom.”
7. Your daughter Kerri recently accompanied you to Poland for research on your next book - Has she inherited your WWII enthusiasm?
Yes. But more than that, Kerri has enthusiasm for everything. She is my best and toughest critic and she is the model for my main character, Anna. Kerri is also a tireless researcher and she kept me on the go through Poland.
8. I know you are researching another book - can you tell us a little about it or when we can expect to see it?
I am just now finishing up a second historical novel set in Europe at the end of WW2. The story focuses on the aftermath and cover-up of one of the most notorious war crimes ever committed.
9. I have so enjoyed Night of Flames that I will definitely be looking for that one when it comes out! Have you had any surprising comments or questions during the promotion of Night of Flames?
The most surprising thing that has happened is that I read an article recently about a surviving WW2 veteran on the Polish army whose war-time journey throughout Europe was the exact same journey as my fictional character, Jan. This was a Polish veteran who was being honored by a Belgian-American newspaper for his service in the liberation of Belgium in 1944.
Thank you Mr. Jacobson for taking the time out to answer these questions!
You can find Mr. Jacobson at his blog - http://douglaswjacobson.blogspot.com.