Bestselling Author


Defending Britta Stein by Ron Balson

Thrilled to have Ron Balson, bestselling author and winner of the National Jewish Book Award, as my guest for this month’s Historical Happy Hour. We will be discussing his latest novel, Defending Britta Stein, a fascinating story of bravery, betrayal and redemption. 

Ron Balson

Ronald H. Balson is the author of Once We Were Brothers, Saving Sophie, Karolina’s Twins, The Trust and The Girl From Berlin. Ron is an attorney practicing with the firm of Stone, Pogrund and Korey in Chicago. The demands of his trial practice have taken him into courts across the United States and into international venues. An adjunct professor of business law at the University of Chicago for twenty-five years, Ron has also lectured on trial advocacy in federal trial bar courses.

In this engaging episode, Jane converses with bestselling author Ron Balson about his latest novel in the Liam Taggart and Catherine Lockhart series, “Defending Britta Stein.” Balson shares insights into the unique historical context of Denmark during World War II, the premise of his new novel, and his creative process. The discussion delves into the importance of authentic historical representation, Balson’s writing journey from law to literature, and his experiences with self-publishing and traditional publishing routes. Balson’s passion for storytelling and his dedication to exploring significant historical themes shine through this enlightening conversation.

Here’s what we covered:

  • [00:00:00] Introduction of Ron Balson and his novel “Defending Britta Stein.”
  • [00:01:09] Background on Ron Balson’s writing career and awards.
  • [00:04:57] The unique historical context of Denmark during World War II.
  • [00:07:12] Discussion on resistance groups and sabotage efforts in Denmark.
  • [00:10:10] George Duckwitz’s role in saving Danish Jews.
  • [00:14:06] Balson’s writing process and balancing historical accuracy with fiction.
  • [00:17:00] Upcoming novel project on the atomic bomb’s development during WWII.
  • [00:19:43] Balson’s enjoyment of writing and dealing with writer’s blocks.
  • [00:26:30] Journey from self-publishing to mainstream success.


[00:00:00] Jane: Hi everyone, I am here tonight with bestselling author and friend Ron Balson, and I’m so happy to have him to talk about his latest novel, his, is this your seventh novel? How many novels are you in now? Yeah, Defending Britta Stein. So welcome Ron and cheers. I will probably just be sipping mostly water while I’m talking, but I have a glass of wine here.

I’m going to start with a quick intro about Ron for those of you who are might not be familiar with his books. He is an attorney, professor and writer. His novel, The Girl from Berlin, which is also excellent and I highly recommend, won the National Jewish Book Award and was the Illinois Reading Council’s Adult Fiction Selection for their Illinois Reads program.

He is also the author of Eli’s Promise, Carolina’s Twins, The Trust, Saving Sophie and the international bestseller, Once We Were Brothers. He has appeared on many television radio programs and has lectured nationally and internationally on his writing. He lives in Chicago. Welcome. Thanks for coming on.

[00:01:09] Ron: Thank you. Thank you so much for inviting me. It’s good to see you again, Jane.

[00:01:13] Jane: Oh, good to see you. I know. So just a quick background. I met Ron about four years ago in Florida at one of the Jewish book council festivals, and I, we sat next to each other at lunch and he gave this amazing keynote speech as part of the luncheon and I was like, newbie, my first book had just come out and you were so kind and I never forgot that.

So thank you for that. So Defending Britta Stein, it is book number six in your Liam Taggart and Catherine Lockhart series. I will say that you do not have to read these books in order by any stretch. Tell me about the two main characters of the series though and the premise for this new novel, Defending Britta Stein.

What I wanted to do in defending Brittistein is to bring out the story of Holland and how Holland was unique during World War II. Almost unbelievably, Holland acted As a country unified of a single thought. And when the order came down to deport the Jews, round up the Jews, send them to concentration camp secretly just spread among the people.

Denmark to rescue their Jewish community, their brethren, and they did, they hid them in hospitals, they hid them in warehouses, they hid them in their houses, and then in the middle of the night, they put them in fishing boats and took them across the Sound to Sweden, where they found sanctuary. I wanted to bring that story out.

That’s the story I wanted to tell. I chose to tell that through the device of a trial that took place now, presently, and the trial was one of defamation, a defamation case where an older woman, 92 years old, Britta Stein, had accused an older man Oldie Hendricks Who was considered a Danish war hero considered she accused him of being a fraud, a traitor, a Nazi collaborator, and she did it publicly.

And he sued her for defamation and through that trial as trials so often do. They bring out the facts, they say that the cross examination is the crucible of truth. So as trials do, they, they bring that out and Catherine and Liam, Catherine being a lawyer who has taken me through several novels and her husband, Liam.

work to defend

Brittain. Yes. So we were talking just before we got on the call about Denmark in World War II. And I feel like there’s obviously, there’s a lot of World War II historical fiction out there. But one of the things I loved about this book is, I didn’t know a lot of this history about Denmark.

And I was fascinated and really moved by all of the acts of kindness and humanity of the Danish people to save They’re Jewish fellow Jewish citizens. I wanted to read this. I think it was in the book and also in your back notes as a country, the, they, the Denmark Danish people came together to hide, protect, and ultimately rescue 7,200 of their Jewish brethren from certain debt that was 95% of the Jews.

in the country. It was, if I have that correct. And they are indeed honored as an entire country at Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in the Garden of the Righteous Among Nations. Talk to me about why Denmark and a little bit more about your research for this book.

[00:04:57] Ron: I’ve, most of my books, with the exception of Saving Sophie and the Trust, were written about World War II, historical fiction.

And for that, I do a ton of research. And some of the time I go over to Israel, to Yad Vashem’s Holocaust Museum, which is extraordinary. And and maybe the most famous Holocaust museum in the world. And they do have this garden out on a terrace out in the back where they honor non Jews who helped Jews or the Jewish community during World War II.

And they call it Righteous Among the Nations. And there are individuals Raoul Wallis and and for George Dukovits, from Denmark, and there in the corner over there, there’s a little area and there’s a tree And a little boat and the it doesn’t honor a person.

It just says the people of Denmark, which, yeah which I saw that. And I said, I wonder when, I didn’t know about it. And so that’s what. prompted me to get started on this book.

[00:06:13] Jane: Yeah, amazing. And I know of the museum and I meant to look up that the, how they were honored in the garden to see if I could find a picture of it before we, this talk.

Cause I, yeah, that, the whole aspect of it and how I love you talk about in the book when the, when the Nazis finally turn and are starting to round up to the Jewish families and, Jewish people walking down the street and other Danish citizens come up to them and say, I’m a friend.

Can I help you, you can hide here. Hi there. You can hide in the hospital or convent. And that’s just that was incredible to me. And incredible that more people don’t know about it. At least I think it’s not, it’s a lesser known story in World War II history. I think for sure. Yep. Another aspect I wanted to ask you about the youth resistant groups in Denmark were really incredible in the acts of sabotage against the Germans and what they were able to accomplish.

Talk a little bit about those groups and your research into those groups.

[00:07:12] Ron: Hitler when in 1939 and in 1940. Hitler invaded and conquered France and Belgium and Czechoslovakia and Poland and all those countries in Europe. Denmark wanted to remain neutral. It remained neutral in World War I.

It didn’t want to fight. It didn’t want to get into the war. Hadn’t been in a war since Napoleon and it was never their intention to get into a war. And it really, Hitler didn’t want to conquer Denmark. He considered Denmark as little Aryan brothers. Oh, yes, I did. And so he and they had before Hitler even went into Poland, they had a, they had signed a non aggression agreement with Denmark.

Just a peaceful non aggression agreement. And Hitler come 1940 decided that he’s going to invade Norway because that was all of the he got a lot of raw materials or oil materials came from Sweden and they would go down the Norway coast to Germany and he needed to protect that. And he also didn’t want.

Norway to be a an ally of the West of Brittain. So he intended to attack Norway and to do that, he wanted to go through Denmark. So he he made an agreement with Denmark. Denmark never had a choice. There were bombers in the air. There were leaflets being sent down to the Danish people saying, don’t resist.

Denmark never had a choice, but he entered into what was a cooperation agreement, which allowed Denmark to run its country as it saw fit internally, but it relinquished all of its external sovereignty. It couldn’t form alliances with anyone else. That lasted and for quite a while and it was peaceful.

But the Danish people weren’t about to accept that as a way of life. And so starting with the youth and then moving up to adult organizations, there were resistance groups that were all about sabotage, sabotaging. The German efforts the German transport, the trains, the biv wherever they were.

And and that, that became more and more prevalent, the resistance in the sabotage until Germany came in, declared martial law and decided to send all the Jews to concentration camp.

Which was as. Towards the latter part of the war when they weren’t doing as well, and I

was in 1943 and they, yeah, they had suffered a lot of setbacks in Russia for sure.

[00:10:10] Jane: Yeah. So when one of the characters in your novel that you just mentioned because he’s honored in the right in the Garden of Righteous Among Nations in Israel. I was, I didn’t realize he was not fictional was George Duckwitz and he was the German naval attache, was instrumental in warning Denmark about what the Germans were planning to do to its Jewish citizens.

And and can you talk a little bit about his role in history, in the Danish history?

[00:10:38] Ron: He’s a real hero. He’s if any, anyone has to be responsible for saving. The Jewish people, that’s George Stuckwitz. George was a Nazi earlier in his life. And he left the Nazi party because he didn’t agree with all of it.

And but he was very prominent in shipping. And so Germany hired him to be in charge of shipping in the Danish waters. And he was there for the beginning even before the war. And he, it was up to him to put the Jews into ships and then take them to Germany. But he was a very moral man and he went to Hitler and he said to him there’s no upside to your doing this.

The Jewish people in Denmark are not necessarily any threat to you. And Danish people they’re very religiously tolerant. They will be offended by this. And you will have an enemy with your cooperative agreement, a country. And but Hitler didn’t care. And he said, he’s going to do it anyway.

And and Dukvits found out that they were going to arrest all the Jews. On Rosh Hashanah, which is a Jewish new year when they knew that the Jews would be at home having dinner and celebrating, and he gave word to the chief rabbi, Rabbi Melchior and he gave word to Bishop Domgard, Who is a Lutheran Bishop.

Now, Denmark was almost 90 percent Lutheran during that time. And and Bishop Damgard spread the word through all of his priests, through all of his churches that something needed to be done to help the Jews. And they were going to they should hide them. They should take care of them and they should support them.

On that day, so that there were some 3000 Gestapo sent over to round up the Jews when they went and knocked on the doors, nobody’s home. Where are they? They’re in hospitals. They’re in stores. They’re in people’s homes. And Denmark acted as a unified country to do that.

[00:12:55] Jane: Yeah, so incredible.

And so incredible what George Duckbits did as well. There so there are two people in their 90s who are at the center of the lawsuit and the story. There’s Britta Stein, who’s a feisty older Jewish woman who was a young girl in Denmark during the war. And Ole, is it Ole Henrichs?

[00:13:16] Ron: Yeah, I think so. All A’s fine.

[00:13:18] Jane: Okay. She accuses of being a Nazi collaborator. And are they based on anyone in history or are they composite characters?

[00:13:26] Ron: I think they’re just creative. Yeah. A lot of times, Jane, I think that and you write historical fiction too. I think we’re cheaters because the back, the backstory is already been written.

It’s written. It exists. All the history is there. George Dukovits and all these amazing things he did. They exist. All we have to do as fiction writers is to make up characters out of our creative juices and and weave a plot through this historical backdrop. And so that’s what we did.

That’s what I did with Ole and Britta and Emma and those characters.

[00:14:06] Jane: So yeah, I actually I was, that was part, one of my questions about historical fiction, a little like cheating. So tell me about your writing process and how you strike the balance between real people and real historical events and fish fictional aspects.

And yeah, do you outline, are you a pantser writing by the seat of your pants? What’s your process? Oh, no,

[00:14:29] Ron: that. Is a Pam Jenoff term.

[00:14:32] Jane: Yes, it is.

[00:14:36] Ron: I was on a panel with her last week and she said she was a pantser. Pulling people’s pants down. But no I can’t say that I’m at either end of this. I like to have a general overview of where I’m going. I know how I want the book to end. I want, I know how I want the characters to end. And I pretty much, and I think you need to do that.

I had to be a successful writer. I think you need to do that. I think you need to know pretty much a storyline beginning to end. You don’t have to know the details. You don’t have to know all the characters. Things can pop up and then that’s the fun of writing. But I think you have to know the direction you’re going in.

Otherwise, I think the reader gets lost. But at least if I try it, the reader gets lost. I don’t write. From a firm outline. I don’t really have an outline to speak about, but I have a general overview of how I want things to go. And I researched the Dickens out of it. I don’t start writing right away.

Like on this book. I had to research Denmark and the people and and make sure that, you That, I was accurate. I think it’s very important when you’re writing about World War II or the Holocaust, I think it’s very important to be authentic, be accurate. Yes.

[00:15:56] Jane: Yeah, absolutely.

Absolutely. So this is your sixth novel with Liam and Catherine at the center. And are they so six books in, is it easier to write about them? Do they feel like real people to you? Cause I know they feel like real people to, to your many fans. So is it easy to write about them now? Cause you feel like you know them or how is that?

[00:16:18] Ron: Do they feel like real people? They are real people. They are real people. There you go. Okay. I talk to them every day. I, yeah. Because I’m comfortable with their personalities. And I know what they would say, and I know how they would act. And I know how they treat each other, so that is.

I’d have to tell you, I’m in the middle of a novel right now, and they’re not in the novel. I hope they’re not mad at me. But they’re not in the novel because it all takes place in 1943. Oh, wow. Okay.

[00:16:51] Jane: Yeah. Now, are there any plans for a movie or series about Liam? TV series about Liam and Catherine? Any plans in the works?

[00:17:00] Ron: I have plans, but I don’t actually a few years ago, I I had a contract with a production company for One Swearer Brothers the film rights to One Swearer Brothers film and TV rights, but it never developed. Hollywood’s kind of goofy and and it never developed. And so from time to time I do get emails.

I do get. Oh, CA, CAA is that what they’ll call me and say is this, are the film rights available for this book? We want, we have someone who’s interested in, and I’ll say they’re available. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:17:36] Jane: Yeah. I feel like that type of stuff is I have no

[00:17:39] Ron: control over that kind of thing.

And yeah, it’s not something I get excited about. If someone calls and ask me.

[00:17:47] Jane: Yeah. What if it happens? It happens. But yeah, you can’t bank on it. So you talked about what you’re working on now. Can you talk a little bit more about that? Are you ready to share what you’re working on?

What project? Sure.

[00:17:57] Ron: Sure. I won’t tell you too much. Okay. Yes, I’m happy to. It’s actually, it’s about World War II, and it’s about it’s about the development of the atomic bomb. Both Germany and the United States were working on it at the same time. In fact, It was first developed in Germany. All of the scientists were there at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, Einstein and Lisa Meitner and Leo Zillard and Otto Hahn.

And they were all there. And then when the Nazis came in, of course. Many of them left. So Einstein left and Siller left and Lisa Meitner left and a lot of them left and just during that period of time, it’s a period of time in which they split the atom in which they realized that bombarding uranium with a neutron releases other neutrons in a chain reaction, creating a lot of radioactivity and energy, And making a bomb, if you could get a sufficient critical mass that was, that, that race to, to develop the atomic bomb was it makes for an exciting novel, I think.

And that, that’s really the subject matter of what I’m working on.

[00:19:23] Jane: Fascinating. Now, do you have a pub date for that yet? Or is it a moving target?

[00:19:28] Ron: I think next fall. Okay.

[00:19:30] Jane: Coming out next fall. Awesome. What part of the whole writing process do you really love and what part do you, is your least favorite?

I won’t say do you hate, but what is your least favorite?

[00:19:43] Ron: I can’t say that there’s, do I hate or even least favor maybe if I’m just stuck on an area and it’s not flowing well and I don’t know why. And maybe that’s it. And then I’ll leave and come back to it. But I love to sit and write and on that.

People sometimes people say, isn’t that lonely to sit there up in your room? I’m in this room here and sit there and by yourself for hours and with nobody to talk to. And I say you’re wrong. I talked to my Characters and they talk to me and we decide what direction the story is going to go.

That’s right. Isn’t that true? And now whatever the down girls.

[00:20:28] Jane: Yeah, I love it. I love I, I love those hours, especially when I have a stretch of hours to myself like that, I love it. I love the process. Some parts of it are really hard still, but but even the hard parts, I love, You said your wife Monica is your first editor and that you pass off pages to her.

Do you pass off like chapters to her as you’re writing or do you pass it all out? at the end?

[00:20:52] Ron: No I pass out chapters. Awesome. Yeah, and so now she’s behind several chapters, but and then she’ll read them, she’ll make her notes. And she’ll say to me either, wow, that was really good.

I really liked that. And, or she’ll say that was good in which I know I got to go back and work on it.

[00:21:17] Jane: So it’s good. You’ll never

[00:21:18] Ron: say it’s bad. It was good.

[00:21:24] Jane: My husband’s very honest in his editorial feedback, but it’s good. Cause it, makes it help.

[00:21:28] Ron: It helps better him than my editor, so my editor doesn’t want to see it until it’s all finished.

[00:21:35] Jane: Yeah. Yeah. Same. So you’re a lawyer in Chicago, just like Catherine, and so what do your friends in the legal profession think about your side hustle as an internationally best selling author?

[00:21:49] Ron: I have a lot of lawyer friends that love to read my books.

[00:21:55] Jane: That’s great.

[00:21:56] Ron: Especially my partners, they love it.

[00:21:58] Jane: Oh, that’s great. They must think it’s very cool. Yeah.

[00:22:01] Ron: I, I’ve got some judges that a good friend of mine is a judge. He’s Irish. And so when I wrote the trust about Northern Ireland, he was all crazy about that and corrected me on a couple of things before it went out.

[00:22:15] Jane: Excellent. I am going to take questions from. The audience now so please put questions in the chat or the q amp a, and I will ask them, ask her on the questions. But my last question to you is like how is the best way that readers can stay in touch with you.

How can readers stay in touch? Do you have a mailing list or a website? I have a website.

[00:22:45] Ron: RonaldBalson. com

[00:22:46] Jane: Perfect. RonaldBalson. com I’ll put that in the chat window. And the name of the book, someone is asking, is Defending Britta Stein. Defending Britta Stein is the name of the book. I have it on Kindle, Ron, otherwise I would be holding it up.

I was going to ask you. Yes, hold up the book. That’s great. Okay, so questions. And Pierpont asks, do you have a favorite among all your books, which one and why?

[00:23:13] Ron: That’s not fair. It’s like saying, which kid do you like the best, even though you might I have to like once we were brothers because it was my first and it would, and it did so well, I liked that a lot.

And I really liked, of course, I always liked the one I’m working on. So I really liked the one I’m working on now. We toss around titles and. I don’t know what it’s going to be called yet. It might be called a chain reaction. It might be called an explosive affair, but we’ll we’ll see. And and I like the girl from Berlin a lot.

And it did very well. It won some awards. But I like them all.

[00:23:51] Jane: Yeah, you’re being modest. You won the National Jewish Book Award. So I just have to plug that again. It’s I got it. I was an early reader of that book. I love that book too. So remember that one too. Let’s see. Oh, Liza. Hello, Liza.

Taylor asks, is it hard to let go of characters who appeared in your earlier books?

[00:24:10] Ron: Sometimes I want to bring back a character, maybe. I had some character, I had a character in Saving Sophie that I liked a lot, and I keep looking for a place to bring her back, but I don’t know. Yeah, maybe it is.

I hope. It’s my hope actually that when you finish reading my book, you’re going to close the covers and you’re going to say, I really like that book, but I’m sorry that it’s over because I’m going to miss spending time with those characters that’s really my goal. Isn’t it the goal of an author?

[00:24:44] Jane: Yeah, I think that is the best compliment ever. Like when you hear that from a reader. That’s, that is, there’s nothing better than that. Than people who are sad that it’s over because they enjoyed it so much. For sure. What is so you are now, you’re working on your eighth. What what advice do you have?

I have a lot of writers on here usually. So what advice do you have for, writers who are just starting out trying to get published. What’s some of your best advice?

[00:25:14] Ron: Just do it. Yeah, just sit down and write, put your heart into it and keep after it. Don’t give up. Don’t give up. My first book, Once You’re Brothers, which sold a lot of copies, I had to self publish it.

It was rejected by everyone I sent it to. I sent it to dozens and dozens of literary agents, and I got nothing but rejection postcards back. Which is so impersonal. I get a postcard back and when I’ve spent so much of my life, put so much of my life into this play, right? I’ve been there. Yeah.

I’ve been saying I’m sorry, we’re not accepting any new authors, which I know is not true. And I don’t know if you ever got these when you were. Look, trying to get your first literary agent, but I got a bunch of them that said, I liked it, but I didn’t love it. And so I came to believe I got that.

Yeah. Yeah. I believe that there is a stationary store somewhere. Pre prints these. I liked it but didn’t love it postcard so they can send it out to literary agents. But ultimately everything worked out okay. But I self published that book. I forgot about that.

[00:26:30] Jane: Yeah, that’s a, you told me,

[00:26:32] Ron: I couldn’t get anybody to, couldn’t get anybody to print it.

And so I I said, what the heck? I’m a lawyer. I’ll form my own publishing company. What could go wrong? I published it myself and it did really well. And because of that St. Martin’s picked it up and published a second edition.

[00:26:51] Jane: Oh, okay. That’s how that went. And cause I remember when you were, we were in Florida, you talked about self publishing and how you knew it was taking off when you saw someone on the train reading it, I think.

Or was that it?

[00:27:03] Ron: That’s how. I, it is my firm belief that no matter what you do, no matter what advertising you do or promotion activity you do or whether you buy a full page ad in the New York Times it’s it’s word of mouth that’s going to sell your book. So people like it, they’ll recommend it to their friends.

And that’s what, that’s, what’s going to sell your book. So I was doing really well. I, with the self published book, I had sold well over 100, 000 copies and my first editor, Kathy, was home for the Christmas holidays and her aunt come and she’s an editor and she’s got A desk full of full of manuscripts that she’s supposed to read and approve.

And her aunt says to her here’s a good book. My friends and I have been reading it. And it’s Once We Were Brothers. Oh, so great. Kathy says thanks very much. I don’t have time to read for pleasure. I’ve got too much work and too much to read. And she says take it anyway, if you get a chance, you’ll like it.

And so she’s sitting on the train going back to New York and she’s thumbing through the book and reading the book. And the conductor, who’s a gruff old guy on the train, pops her on the shoulder and says, that’s a good book.

Says, how do you know that? And he says, Because I read it, and a lot of people on my train read it.

That’s how that came about. And then she actually became my my editor.

[00:28:39] Jane: Excellent. I love that story. Mandy Eisenbaum is on. She was, I met, we met her in Florida, and she said that word of mouth and a heck of a lot of luck and right place at right time. But yeah, I, my editor, Danielle, head of my imprint always says, you can do all the social media and marketing.

In the world, but word of mouth is always the bottom line. And that is what’s going to move books, and book clubs and word of mouth and people telling each other and give it as gifts and telling people to get it at the library, whatever, but that is absolutely true. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

[00:29:15] Ron: I think I’ve always been a writer. I wrote I wrote for my high school newspaper. I was an editor of my college newspaper. And I’ve been a lawyer for 49 years and lawyers write, that’s what they do. I write briefs and arguments and memorandums and appeals and and those, and there’s nothing really different.

About writing those, then there is about writing a novel, except you can’t make stuff up. But I actually sat on a panel a couple years ago for the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers at their annual meeting here in Chicago. They asked me to be on a panel and the subject matter for my panel was storytelling.

Now that’s, these are appellate lawyers. And judges and writers and they they’re interested in storytelling, which is, which, because that’s how you write a good appellate brief. It’s the same disciplines necessary to write a good brief or to write a good novel, persuasive, interesting, keep your, know where you’re going, words, narrative and yeah.

[00:30:28] Jane: Exactly. Oh, Anne asks, are, all your books are based around World War II. Did you have close family who served in the war that affected you or stirred your interest?

[00:30:38] Ron: No, I did not have any family that although I think I think my uncle was in the army in World War II but no, I really and a cousin of mine actually served in the war.

Not enough that would have influenced my writing at all.

[00:31:00] Jane: And so what year did Once We Were Brothers come out?

[00:31:05] Ron: 11, I think.

[00:31:07] Jane: Okay, and have you, were you working on that for a long, how long did it take you to finish that one?

[00:31:12] Ron: That one took me a while because it was my first novel. Yeah.

Yeah. And that took me about three years, I think, to write. Now now it takes me about a year to a year and a half. Yeah.

[00:31:25] Jane: Yeah. Do you find you do better with deadlines from your publisher or you better live without deadlines? How is that? I’m better with deadlines. Me too. Yeah, totally. It’s a little painful sometimes, but it’s, oh,

[00:31:36] Ron: it’s very painful because I’ve got a deadline of November that I’m not going to make.

Oh, wow.

[00:31:41] Jane: Yeah, that’s coming up.

[00:31:43] Ron: Coming up quick. And I told him, I’m going to be a month late or so. Oh

[00:31:48] Jane: that’s not bad. No. Growing up, were there any books, any novels that really had an impact and made you think I want to do that someday. I feel like a lot of authors were big readers as kids and have certain books that stood out.

[00:32:02] Ron: I can’t say as a kid, I don’t remember that, but I can say that earlier in my adulthood, I, the books of Leon Uris and Herman Wouk I think those influenced me. They were great World War II fictional writers.

You’re on deadline now. So I’m going to guess that you’re not reading anything for pleasure.

I think it’s very hard to read for pleasure these days, but what’s what’s a book you’ve read more recently that you really enjoyed?

I know I get put on the spot by this one. So if you don’t want,

I’m looking at my bookcase here. I read Eunice, which I really liked by Eileen McNamara. Oh, yeah. Eunice Kennedy. And I served on a panel with her. She’s a fabulous writer. Yes, she broke that story and now I can’t remember the name of it. She worked for Boston Globe and I can’t remember the, that story that she broke about the Cardinal.

[00:33:06] Jane: Anyway. Oh, yes. Yeah, she was on that spotlight team. Spotlight, that’s right. Yeah, that’s right.

[00:33:11] Ron: Yeah. So I, I read that and I really liked it. I liked I like Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson. I read that recently, not too recently, because like you say, if you’re writing, you can research, you can write, you can read reams of paper of research and you can read your own stuff.

And there’s not really a lot of room for. For pleasure, right? We’re reading, right?

[00:33:38] Jane: Oh, that’s true. I feel sometimes I have some books are manuscripts. I need to read for friends right now. But if I’m right now, I’m like deep in research and outlining for my next project. And I feel like by the end of the day, I’m like, Oh, I should really read this book.

And I’m like, I’ve just been reading and writing all day. I need to like, Watch Netflix, step away for a little while, it’s tough to read for pleasure nowadays when you’re working.

[00:34:02] Ron: It is to find the time to do that. And then I’m a lawyer too still, so I still have to do that.

[00:34:07] Jane: Yeah, you got a little bit going on.

[00:34:10] Ron: I told you, now you tell me, what are you working on? Okay.

[00:34:13] Jane: Yes. Someone said, please tell us about your next project. I am working on also a World War II project. I can’t say too much because I have the contract is not quite signed. We’re working on the contract now though.

I’m super excited. And it’s about a lesser known movie star in the 30s who ends up becoming really involved in the underground getting pilots It’s out of occupied France getting allied pilots. So Canadians, Canadian, British, and American pilots out through the underground network out of France.

And she is, she was, it’s a phenomenal story. We, it, but I, the contract’s coming and I’ll be able to talk a lot more. I’m so excited, but I can’t say too much more. It sounds really good. I hope so. You started writing it. I have I’ve started writing it started mapping it out. I am not a panther.

I am very much a plotter. And yeah, but I think at this point, it probably won’t be out until early 2023 because you know the calendar gets booked up pretty fast. Oh, thank you. Mandy says, I already love it. Thank you. So any, so thank you again. I’m looking to see if I’m, Oh anonymous attendee asks, do you plan to discuss Mo?

This is a great question. Mo Berg and your book on the race for the atomic bomb. No, he’s not included. Okay.

[00:35:34] Ron: That’s what I know about it.

[00:35:35] Jane: I know about it but no, it doesn’t fit. It doesn’t map. Yeah. And he’s been covered a lot. I feel like, yeah. Yeah. But that’s a good question. So thank you very much for your time tonight out of your busy schedule and you’re on deadline so I appreciate it even more because I know how stressful that can be when you’re like racing towards the end.

I can’t wait to read your next one. If you want to hold up the book one more time, it’s defending Britta Stein, it’s terrific, as all of your books are. And thank you for coming on. It’s so good to see you.

[00:36:11] Ron: Thank you so much for having me. It’s wonderful to talk to you.

[00:36:15] Jane: And hopefully at one of these, we’ll see each other in person at an event again soon.

I hope so in the coming year. All right. Take care.


Hosted by Jane Healey, Historical Happy Hour is a live interview and podcast featuring premiere historical fiction authors and their latest novels.

Jane Healey

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