There's something about World War II. What that something is, I couldn't say, but there's definitely an element of the 1940s that seems romantic. I mean, we've got shows like Agent Carter and movies like Captain America: The First Avenger that reflect the times, much of which seemed to be Victory Gardens, curled hair and handsome young soldiers. But there's the darker side of that, because hey, it was a world war. Author A.L. Soward sees both sides of the coin, as a writer of historical spy thrillers set during the Second World War. Check out her perspective on the subject.
How did you get started writing WWII Spy Thrillers?
I grew up reading books by Jack Higgins and Alistair MacLean. Both of their works include WWII Thrillers. In one of my high school English classes we were assigned a creative project, so I wrote a short story based on MacLean’s style. Later I rewrote the story and turned it into the first chapter of my first novel.
How much research do you have to do to write about something that is technically "historical" fiction?
Good question. I tend to lose track of how much research I do. I think to write good historical fiction, an author has to be at least slightly obsessed with the time period. I spend a big chunk of my reading time on nonfiction related to whatever I’m writing.
My first book took longer, but since then it’s been about one a year. I still have young kids at home. Once they’re in school all day, I hope I’ll be able to produce books more frequently.
WWII was so big and involved so many people and so many countries that there are always new things to learn and new story ideas to find. I think it’s a good setting for novels because there’s an underlying feel of good vs. evil and the stakes were high. The level of technology is fun too—there were airplanes, radios, and cool spy gadgets, but computers weren’t really around yet. It’s far enough back that most readers weren’t alive, but most know someone who was. Plus, it’s well-document, and that makes research easier.
Do your research, because you only have to mess up on one thing and you’ll lose your reader’s trust. You don’t have to know everything about a given time period to write about it, you just need to know about everything that makes it into your book.
About the Author
I was born in Atlanta, Georgia and grew up in Moses Lake, Washington. Then I came to Utah to attend school and ended up staying. Books have always been an important part of my life. I remember writing self-illustrated storybooks at my grandparent’s house when I was in elementary school (none of those made it to publication for many good reasons) and attending my first writer’s conference when I was in third grade.
Another big part of my early life was swimming. I swam for the Big Bend Manta Rays, the Moses Lake Manta Rays, Moses Lake High School, and Brigham Young University. In addition to swimming, I studied Political Science and English at BYU.
Now I’m a busy mom with three young children. I still love to read and I also love to write. I’m usually reading a couple books at once and working on multiple writing projects too. Other than that, my life is pretty ordinary. I’m grateful for that. I’ll let the characters in my books have all the adventures.
I find great joy in being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You can read more about my religious beliefs at Mormon.org.
To connect with A.L. Soward and check out her books, stop by her Official Website!