Thursday, July 27, 2017

Erin Eldridge ~ guest post and her novel ~ Days of Insult

TITLE: “Days of Insult”
RELEASE DATE: April 30, 2017
AUTHOR: Erin Eldridge
CATEGORIES: Historical Fiction/Romance
ISBN: 978-1543006971
IMPRINT: White Stag

KEYWORDS: War, Partisan, Love, Betrayal, Canada, Refugee, Explosives

Hitler’s troops invade Russia and Sacha Mikhailov’s life is changed forever. Forced into early manhood, he joins his country’s bitter struggle against the Nazi invader.

When the Germans invade his country in 1941, Russian youth, Sacha Mikhailov, becomes a part of the titanic struggle on the Eastern Front. Fighting first as a partisan, operating with his detachment from deep in the forest, he learns the skills of sabotage and ambush. He makes friends, falls in love, and endures the enemy’s vicious onslaught to wipe out the partisans once and for all. As the Russians push the Germans back, Sacha joins the Red Army and his war continues on into the capitals of Europe where he formulates a plan which will set his life on a radically different course.

When the idea for this book began to germinate, I realised that I was going to have to do a great deal of research. I’m an avid reader at the best of times and have tertiary qualifications in history, but I knew there were a lot of gaps in my knowledge, just the same.

The whole story of the war on the Eastern Front, in Soviet Russia, is a very neglected area, especially for fiction. Yet, the bulk of the war was fought on Russian soil, confirmed by the fact that eight out of ten German soldiers who died in World War 11, died in the Eastern theatre. Out of fifty million war dead, twenty-eight million casualties were Russian. They truly bore the brunt of the Nazi onslaught and the savagery and brutality were unequalled on any other front. To Nazified Germans, the Russians were little better than animals, untermenschen, sub-humans, and they treated them accordingly. The titanic scale of the conflict is beyond the average person’s comprehension.

Once I started my research, I knew I wanted my book to be rooted in real events to give it a solid base of authenticity. Firstly, I had to find out what it was like to be a partisan, trying to survive in the dense forests. I needed to know how life was organised, what clothes they wore, what food they ate, what kinds of weapons and tactics they used. The Soviet government at the time, under Josef Stalin, issued the partisans with a practical survival manual and this little book provided valuable information. I was also aware that the United States was a valuable Ally of Russia during the war years and supplied them with huge amounts of war materiel. I was especially interested to learn about the tons of SPAM (the tinned meat) that America delivered to the Russian troops, who considered it gourmet food. In Ohio and Iowa, there were factories dedicated to turning out canned pork for the Soviet soldiers. They called it tushonka and relished it.

Another area I had to research was the legendary T-34 tank, which was the mainstay of Russian armour. Apart from reading and using the Internet, I contacted the Russian Embassy here in New Zealand and they directed me to the website of a tank museum in Moscow which was a mine of information about specifications. I’ve always loved tanks so I really enjoyed this part of the research. Driving a tank is on my bucket list! This little tank, the T-34, was probably the best tank overall in WW11, and they were turned out in their thousands. I had to put myself “inside” one and think about what it must have been like for the tankers. It was unquestionably sheer hell and thousands lost their lives. Tanks may be made of metal, but they burn fiercely. I have tried hard to convey the horror of tank warfare in my book.

Finally, I had to find out about what happened to all the people who were displaced by the war. In 1945, when the war ended, there were a staggering twelve million DPs In Europe. I embarked on a quest to find out what happened to them, where they ended up and how many became refugees and were repatriated to other countries.

By the time I finished writing my book I had learned so much and felt humbled by what people of the war generation had gone through. I hope I have done justice to their suffering by filtering it through the agonising experience of one young Russian man. Life can insult us in so many ways and the amazing thing about the human spirit is the courage with which people face its challenges.

I live in Christchurch, New Zealand. The city is still rebuilding after the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. I have been a teacher for most of my life, most recently, a teacher of deaf students. Currently, I do part time support work with International students at a boys’ college. I’ve taught overseas as well, in Africa and in Brunei. I have two children, one of who, my daughter, lives in the UK and the other, my son, lives around the corner! I started writing two years ago and have completed four books: a contemporary romance, two war stories and a medieval fantasy. I have many more ideas for stories yet to come.


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