What was promised in my last post on this site…has become a reality. The book that I have invested over a half a decade in researching and writing has been released. It is now available at A FORTRESS AND A LEGACY! (http://afortressandalegacy.com/) As the subtitle says, it is truly “The Gift of a WW2 Bombardier’s True Story to the Daughter He Never Knew.” You can download the first chapter FREE at this site and also see 4 short videos that give an overview of the book.
FORTRESS is a fact based historical novel initially set in the early 40s in Knoxville. As the story progresses the scenes bounce with fragile emotions back and forth between Knoxville, Germany, an air base located in eastern England and the nose of a B-17 Flying Fortress bound for or returning from the belly of the Reich .
The catalyst for this story was the 2009 discovery of 1000 letters written to and from; 1935 Knox Hi graduate Ross “Bud” Perrin, for whom I was named, his sweetheart/wife, Thelma, a 1937 Knox Hi graduate, his mother, sister and a few from me…a mischievous three year old. Later in 1940, Thelma was crowned Miss Knoxville. As a result, she was one of 41 contestants in the 1940 Miss America pageant.
I wrote this story for Bud’s daughter, my cousin, Rosalind Perrin Davis. So it has been and continues to be a labor of love…for her and for her father, my uncle, who I loved so much. Also I intend this work for all who wonder what the terror of prosecuting WW2 was like for allied airmen and the families torn apart by this insidious but essential battle. Families and soldiers collectively endured this horror to protect the freedom that we NOW enjoy…emphasis intended. It is sad, and maddening, that many today do not know what was risked, what was lost, what was gained in this war…and the path we are, arguably, on that puts this freedom at risk. I want to change that, even if my efforts provide only a small measure of clarity.
At its core, FORTRESS is a love story. Knoxville provides the initial proving ground for the developing relationship between Bud and Thelma. Together and with a rag-tag study group they try to evaluate the political battle between the interventionists and isolationists regarding the war in Europe prior to Pearl Harbor, in an attempt to figure whether they will be called to war. The study group engages Miss Jessie Lou Neubert…you read right…to assist them in learning some history that they skated through when they were students at Knox Hi. Does the skating-through-history analogy strike a chord with any readers? Tell the truth now.
There is enough history in FORTRESS to add interest without choking the reader. There are numerous back-stories, many Knoxville related, that are magnets, drawing us 60-plus-year-olds in with smiles of remembrance on our faces.
I wanted this tremendous story to be told in an interesting way. I had little to do with the story…just the telling of it. So, I attempted to “walk in the shoes” of the characters until the shoes fit like a well broken-in pair of house slippers. Therefore, I went to virtually every site and scene that is depicted in the book. I interviewed everyone from the war that would sit still for 5 minutes. And I flew in one of the 10 remaining B-17s…only a year before it burned in an Illinois cornfield started by a fuel leak. I wanted to feel, smell and see what I think Bud saw as he lived the story I was telling. I sure hope I succeeded. (Please let me know how you think I did.) Therefore, it took six years, long hours, numerous rewrites, a bucket of tears and frayed emotions, fights with well meaning but brutally honest critics and finally a study of punctuation rules that I should have learned from Miss Ora Dowell…but didn’t.
So, A FORTRESS AND A LEGACY… my gift, is now available in printed and digital form. Seeing it in print is both scary and exhilarating at the same time…sort of like sweet and sour pork. I now understand that perverse dichotomy much better. Fully aware that what I am about to say is “TMI,” I still press forward in all stupidity. Releasing an artistic work, FORTRESS, is scary…akin to walking from Magnolia to the Gay street bridge buck-naked…in January.
Please read A FORTRESS AND A LEGACY, and encourage everyone you know to do likewise…I’m broke!