After years as a journalist and magazine editor, George decided to return to his lifelong passion, storytelling. A lover of both 1930s cinema and world history, he is now devoted to bringing life to the mid-20th Century fictional narratives that have been in his thoughts for years. Sudetenland is his first novel. Taking place during turbulent times in Central Europe during the 1930s, the book took eight years to research and write. The author is already hard at work on his second novel.
AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR
I asked George to tell us more about the research he did into the 1930s era, Adolf Hitler and World War II. Here is his response:
The research behind Sudetenland was a long process. I started in earnest back in 1996. There were three pivotal sources that helped launch me on my way. The first was a tremendous article I ran across in a journal called Command Magazine by Dr. Peter H. Gryner. The piece was very well researched, very in-depth and did a fantastic job of setting up the political and military dynamics between Czechoslovakia and Germany in 1938. I knew I wanted to use the Sudeten Crisis of that year as setting for the novel and this article provided an early factual template to work from.
Straight away I started a date timeline stretching as far back as 1932 with the fullest entries between 1937 and 1938. My idea was to have a resource where I could pick any particular day and have a major event for my characters to be part of. By the time I started actively writing in 2001, that timeline had grown to 43 pages.
The second major source was Berlin Diary by William Shirer. He was one of the early wire news reporters who made the jump into radio working for Edward R. Murrow at CBS. Shirer was in Vienna, Prague and Berlin during the period I was writing about and his first-person observations were colorfully descriptive. From other sources I was able to get transcripts of some of his broadcasts that he mentioned in the book. There was so much wonderful material the only way I felt good about using it all was by making him one of the real-life characters in the book so he could deliver his own observations. Shirer's remarks on Hitler at the Godesberg summit in September 1938 are priceless.
The third major volume was Master of Spies by Frantisek Moravec. Few people know that Czechoslovak Military Intelligence had an extensive network of spies and agents in Germany before World War II that churned out amazingly accurate reports on what the Nazis were up to. Moravec was in charge of that operation. Some of the intelligence coups they pulled off were astonishing and Moravec goes into great detail about them.
Moving forward the research shifted to subject-specific searches. If I found a good tome in a library that had facts and observations I could make use of, I would order a used copy online. Later, Internet searches supplanted trips to the library as Google has digitized so many non-fiction books you can get quick access to sizable excerpts. In this fashion I came across many useful academic textbooks with bits and pieces of what I needed.
Then there was the serendipitous pursuit of old postcards. It is remarkable what you can find on eBay. Finances only permitted me one research trip and that was an extended stay in Prague. But I had major portions of Sudetenland happening in Bohemia, plus the major European capitals. Old color postcards were a marvelous way to get a window on city districts in the way they looked between the wars.
An example of a small research quest of mine was the train station in Košice, Slovakia. Look it up today and you will see various photographs of the station built during communist times. So I did the translations and started searching using Czech terms. I was lucky enough to find a digitized train enthusiast magazine that talked about the old station built during Austro-Hungarian rule, and it included pictures. The building was absolutely charming and looked like something you would find at Disneyland.
Another major resource was old wire reports from the era. You can get access to quite a few digitized newspapers these days, which opens up reports from correspondents in the field. These accounts are tremendous but you have to be careful with them. In smaller towns the reporters often submitted the name phonetically in English so you have to go back and fact check the names in their native language. That can be interesting when the reporters in Bohemia at the time were mangling the German names and on maps today the names are all in Czech.
Lastly, I have adored 1930s cinema since I was a kid. Watching all of those old movies has given me a good feeling for the era, which was invaluable in setting the tone for characters and events in Sudetenland.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Sudetenland is the premiere novel by author George T. Chronis. The book delivers suspenseful and sweeping historical fiction set against Central European intrigue during the late 1930s leading up to 1938’s Munich Conference. Having swallowed up Austria, Adolph Hitler now covets Czechoslovakian territory. Only France has the power to stand beside the government in Prague against Germany… but will she? The characters are the smart and sometimes wise-cracking men and women of this era – the foreign correspondents, intelligence officers, diplomats and career military – who are on the front lines of that decade’s most dangerous political crisis. If Czechoslovak president Edvard Beneš ignores the advice of French premier Édouard Daladier and refuses to give up Bohemian territory willingly, then Hitler orders that it be taken by force. The novel takes readers behind the scenes into the deliberations and high drama taking place within major European capitals such as Prague, Paris, Berlin, Vienna and London as the continent hurtles toward the crucible of a shooting war.
"The Germans are very keen to have news of the conference broadcast live across the world. They are very confident of the outcome. Godesberg is a great victory for them," Shirer felt a tad uncomfortable at helping them promote their success.
"Yeah, that's what I have been reading in the local rags," Endicott found the towing of the government's pitch lines to be remarkably uniform.
"Don't be too hard on us, my friend," an overly cheery German broke into the conversation to sit down at the table without waiting for an invitation. "Godesberg is one of those rare occasions where everything we print is actually true."
Shirer laughed and slapped the tabletop. "Eavesdropping again, Manfred?"
"Of course! And so do you. I am just better at snooping than you are," the German boasted, although he ranked Shirer's attention to detail as amazingly high.
"Charles," Shirer turned to Endicott. "Meet Herr Culemann, one of Germany's leading editors."
"Pleased to meet you. Charles Endicott, Hearst International News Service," Endicott reached over the table to offer his hand.
"I just read your story. Great work there: Kidnapped By the Sudeten Freikorps. I am glad you survived unscathed. Many of their number are severely undisciplined," Culemann was sincerely pleased no harm had come to the American.
"Thanks on both counts. Sometimes I get lucky," Endicott hoped the roll lasted for a while longer. "Say, you look like a man in the know. When does Herr Hitler arrive?"
"Oh, the chancellor is already in Godesberg... upstairs as we speak," Culemann informed them.
"Now you're talking," Endicott perked up. "When do you think we will get a chance to see him?"
"Any time really. One never knows. He could stroll through the lobby in five minutes on the way to his river yacht. The vessel is tied up at the water's edge," Culemann located the vessel through the window and showed them.
"Somehow I expected something more formal," Endicott sounded let down.
"Do not despair, the Teppichfresser will not disappoint," Culemann lowered his voice as he teased the Americans.
"The what?" Endicott did not understand the term.
"Carpet eater?" Shirer's translation did little to ease his own confusion.
"You two have obviously not been paying attention to the discussion at the next table," Culemann nodded in the direction of two party hacks nearby.
"I imagine not," Shirer had been ignoring their boorish neighbors on purpose.
"Perhaps you have heard... the chancellor often has strong reactions to bad news," Culemann continued in a whisper. "Chamberlain promised him that he could deliver the Sudetenland on a platter and all of the news from Prague says Beneš is obstinately refusing to go along. Those two over there were just mentioning how this continued stubbornness by the Czech president has brought on one of Hitler's rages causing the leader of the great German Empire to fling himself on the floor where he chews on the edge of the carpet."
"You have to be kidding," Endicott found such a tale difficult to believe.
"Trust me, on such matters, I never kid," Culemann wagged his forefinger at the Americans.
George will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
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