Interview with D.E. Haggerty: 'I'm a stickler for details and I love history' @dehaggerty

Dena (aka D.E.) grew-up reading everything she could get her grubby hands on from her mom's Harlequin romances to Nancy Drew to Little Women. When she wasn't flipping pages in a library book, she was penning horrendous poems, writing songs no one should ever sing, or drafting stories, which she is very thankful have been destroyed. College and a stint in the U.S. Army came along and robbed her of any free time to write or read, although on the odd occasion she did manage to sneak a book into her rucksack between rolled up socks, MRIs, t-shirts, and cold weather gear. After surviving the army experience, she went back to school and got her law degree. She jumped ship and joined the hubby in the Netherlands before the graduation ceremony could even begin. A few years into her legal career, she was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. She quit her job and sat down to write a manuscript, which she promptly hid in the attic after returning to the law. But being a lawyer really wasn’t her thing, so she quit (again!) and went off to Germany to start a B&B. Turns out being a B&B owner wasn’t her thing either. She polished off that manuscript languishing in the attic before following the husband to Istanbul where she decided to give the whole writer-thing a go. But ten years was too many to stay away from her adopted home. She packed up again and moved back to the Netherlands (The Hague to be exact) where she's currently working on her next book. She hopes she'll always be working on another book.

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Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  When did you come up with the idea to write your book?
A: When I moved to Istanbul several years ago, people were constantly commenting that I must have tons of book ideas as I lived in an exotic location, but I didn’t. Normally, book ideas just come at me willy-nilly. Feeling the pressure, I actively searched for an idea. When I discovered Istanbul was to WWII what Casablanca was to WWI, I knew I’d found the start of my novel.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

A: This book was incredibly difficult to write. I’m a stickler for details and I love history, so I wanted the background to be historically accurate. Unfortunately, Turkish history during the Second World War is difficult to research. Documentation in English is nearly impossible to find and none of it is online. The only advice I have to give to other writers in this situation is to make sure you do the majority of research before you start writing. Otherwise, you’ll have to do a lot of re-writing when the facts turn out to not be what you initially anticipated.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

A: I self-publish. Writing in English but living in a non-English speaking country made it difficult to find an agent and/or publisher. I also thought agents and publishers were for those literary fiction people. Not writers like me who write humorous murder mysteries.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

A: Besides the fact that absolutely nothing happened after I pushed the publish button? No sales, no accolades. The thing that I found really surprising was how easy it all was. Just properly format a word doc and bam! you have a published novel on Amazon in no time.

Q: What other books are you working on and when will they be published?

A: I’m starting a series that will comprise three books. Our heroine is a bit of basket case after her husband leaves her. When she stumbles upon a mystery, she decides – after much pushing from her best friend – to solve it. Whenever she’s in doubt as how to proceed, she just asks herself: “What would Nancy Drew do?” I can’t wait to get started on it and not just because I get to re-read all my favorite Nancy Drew novels!

Q: What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?

A: Oh gosh, I think there are a lot of facts about the fact that would surprise people. This novel is full of history about Turkey during WWII, an area of history that even history geeks probably don’t know much about as it’s incredibly difficult to research and there aren’t many books on the subject out there. To name one surprising fact, however, that plays an important role in this novel, I offer the following: Although Turkey had declared itself neutral, in October 1941, several high-ranking Turkish military leaders traveled to the German eastern front on invitation from the Nazi regime.

Q: Finally, what message are you trying to get across with your book?

A: I’m not naïve enough to think my little book will correct the misconceptions many have regarding the treatment of Jews by the Turkish government during the Second World War, but correcting those misconceptions is indeed the message I’m trying to get across with this book. The picture that many have in their mind regarding Turkey and the Holocaust is that many Turkish public institutions, such as Istanbul University which features heavily in my novel, took in Jewish scholars who were prosecuted in the 1930s. Unfortunately, my research has shown that Turkey was not as welcoming towards Jews during the Holocaust era as the Turkish government would have one believe.

Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

A: Thanks for having me. It’s been fun!

About the Book:

Author: D.E. Haggerty
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 250
Genre: Historical Romance

While growing up in Germany in the 1930s, Rudolf falls in love with the girl next door, Gertrude. He doesn’t care what religion Gertrude practices, but the Nazis do. When the first antisemitic laws are enacted by the Nazi government, Gertrude’s father loses his job at the local university. Unable to find employment in Germany, he accepts a position at Istanbul University and moves the family to Turkey. Rudolf, desperate to follow Gertrude, takes a position as a consulate worker in Istanbul with the very government which caused her exile. With Rudolf finally living in the same city as Gertrude, their reunion should be inevitable, but he can’t find her. During his search for Gertrude, he stumbles upon Rosalyn, an American Jew working as a nanny in the city. Upon hearing his heartbreaking story, she immediately agrees to help him search for his lost love. Willing to do anything in their search for Gertrude, they agree to work for a British intelligence officer who promises his assistance, but his demands endanger Rudolf and Rosalyn. As the danger increases and the search for Gertrude stretches on, Rudolf and Rosalyn grow close, but Rudolf gave his heart away long ago.  

How far would you go to find the woman you love?

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