Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Liebold Protocol: A Mattie McGary + Winston Churchill 1930's Adventure by Michael McMenamin, Kathleen McMenamin

Winston Churchill’s Scottish goddaughter, Mattie McGary, the adventure-seeking Hearst photojournalist, reluctantly returns to Nazi Germany in the summer of 1934 and once again finds herself in deadly peril in a gangster state where widespread kidnappings and ransoms are sanctioned by the new government.


Published: December 3rd, 2018

Winston Churchill’s Scottish goddaughter, Mattie McGary, the adventure-seeking Hearst photojournalist, reluctantly returns to Nazi Germany in the summer of 1934 and once again finds herself in deadly peril in a gangster state where widespread kidnappings and ransoms are sanctioned by the new government.

Mattie turns down an early request by her boss Hearst to go to Germany to report on how Hitler will deal with the SA Brown Shirts of Ernst Rohm who want a true socialist ‘second revolution’ to follow Hitler’s stunning first revolution in 1933. Having been away from Germany for over a year, her reputation as “Hitler’s favorite foreign journalist” is fading and she wants to keep it that way.

Instead, at Churchill’s suggestion, she persuades Hearst to let her investigate one of the best-kept secrets of the Great War—that in 1915, facilitated by a sinister German-American working for Henry Ford, British and Imperial German officials essentially committed treason by agreeing Britain would sell raw rubber to Germany in exchange for it selling precision optical equipment to Britain. Why? To keep the war going and the profits flowing. After Mattie interviews Ford’s German-American go-between, however, agents of Scotland Yard’s Special Branch are sent by Churchill’s political opponents in the British government to rough her up and warn her she will be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act unless she backs off the story.

Left no choice, Mattie sets out for Germany to investigate the story from the German side and interview the German nobleman who negotiated the optics for rubber deal. There, Mattie lands right in the middle of what Hearst originally wanted her to investigate—Adolf Hitler believes one revolution is enough—and she learns that Hitler has ordered the SS to assassinate all the senior leadership of Ernst Rohm’s SA Brown Shirts as well as other political enemies on Saturday 30 June, an event soon known to History as ‘The Night of the Long Knives’. 

Mattie must flee Germany to save her life. Not only does the German-American working for Henry Ford want her story on the optics for rubber treason killed, he wants her dead along with it. Worse, Mattie’s nemesis, the ‘Blond Beast’ of the SS, Reinhard Heydrich, is in charge of Hitler’s purge and he’s secretly put her name on his list…

Random Thoughts on Using Real Persons as Characters in Historical Fiction 

I’ve been asked more than once why we use so many real persons as characters in our Mattie McGary + Winston Churchill historical thrillers so here are six thoughts on that subject for the six actual historical persons who have appeared in three or more of our novels—Winston Churchill, William Randolph Hearst, William J. ‘Wild Bill’ Donovan, Adolf Hitler, Hermann Goring and Reinhard Heydrich. 

· It’s easier using real people rather than creating fictional characters. Every fictional character a novelist creates, major or minor, has a backstory that the writer must know even if it never appears in the novel itself. Creating a backstory takes time. Using a real person eliminates that task as the character comes with a readymade backstory complete with friends and enemies, likes and dislikes. 

· By the same token, however, you’ve got to know the real person’s backstory and this means reading at lot about that person, preferably a biography if there is one. 

· Real people add verisimilitude to an historical novel, but getting those persons wrong or a detail about their lives wrong can quickly destroy that willing suspension of disbelief every reader brings to a novel. That means, for example, that you can’t have a tee-totaling, non-smoking vegetarian like Hitler eating meat, drinking alcohol or smoking a cigar. Likewise, you can’t have Churchill drinking Scotch without water. His whisky was always diluted with large quantities of water or soda. 

· Real people make for more plausible villains. Why create a fictional Nazi bad guy when you have so many real people to choose from? Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels and Heydrich are all there for the taking. This allows you to have something other than a black and white portrayal. Hermann Goring, for example, kept lion cubs as pets, feeding them with a baby bottle. Hitler was unfailingly polite to his secretaries and, unlike Churchill, never swore at them. The only problem using a real historical person as a villain, however, is you can’t kill him at the end of the book if it’s not his time. 

· For the same reason, real historical people make more plausible supporting characters. If Mattie McGary is going to work for a newspaper, it’s better to have her boss be a fascinating guy like William Randolph Hearst rather than a two-dimensional Perry White of The Daily Planet. 

· Casting as a character a historical person whom you don’t especially like lets you display their less attractive traits. President Herbert Hoover, for example, was an anti-Catholic bigot and we gave him ample opportunity to display that in The DeValera Deception. His successor Franklin D. Roosevelt was both an anti-Semite and an anti-Catholic bigot who once actually said to a Catholic appointee “This is a Protestant country, and the Catholics and Jews are here on sufferance. It is up to you to go along with anything I want at this time.” We had FDR use that line in The Silver Mosaic. 

About the authors:
Michael McMenamin is the co-author with his son Patrick of the award winning 1930s era historical novels featuring Winston Churchill and his fictional Scottish goddaughter, the adventure-seeking Hearst photojournalist Mattie McGary. The first five novels in the series—The DeValera Deception, The Parsifal Pursuit, The Gemini Agenda, The Berghof Betrayal and The Silver Mosaic—received a total of 15 literary awards. He is currently at work with his daughter Kathleen McMenamin on the sixth Winston and Mattie historical adventure, The Liebold Protocol

Michael is the author of the critically acclaimed Becoming Winston Churchill, The Untold Story of Young Winston and His American Mentor [Hardcover, Greenwood 2007; Paperback, Enigma 2009] and the co-author of Milking the Public, Political Scandals of the Dairy Lobby from LBJ to Jimmy Carter [Nelson Hall, 1980]. He is an editorial board member of Finest Hour, the quarterly journal of the International Churchill Society and a contributing editor for the libertarian magazine Reason. His work also has appeared in The Churchills in Ireland, 1660-1965, Corrections and Controversies [Irish Academic Press, 2012] as well as two Reason anthologies, Free Minds & Free Markets, Twenty Five Years of Reason [Pacific Research Institute, 1993] and Choice, the Best of Reason [BenBella Books, 2004]. A full-time writer, he was formerly a first amendment and media defense lawyer and a U.S. Army Counterintelligence Agent. 

Kathleen, the other half of the father-daughter writing team, has been editing her father’s writing for longer than she cares to remember. She is the co-author with her sister Kelly of the critically acclaimed Organize Your Way: Simple Strategies for Every Personality [Sterling, 2017]. The two sisters are professional organizers, personality-type experts and the founders of PixiesDidIt, a home and life organization business. Kathleen is an honors graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and has an MFA in Creative Writing from New York University. The novella Appointment in Prague is her second joint writing project with her father. Their first was “Bringing Home the First Amendment”, a review in the August 1984 Reason magazine of Nat Hentoff’s The Day They Came to Arrest the Book. While a teen-ager, she and her father would often take runs together, creating plots for adventure stories as they ran.

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