Today we have the great pleasure of welcome co-authors E.B. Wheeler and Jeffery Bateman to Books & Benches. Wheeler is an award-winning author of multiple novels, short stories, and magazine articles, and Bateman is a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel. His work as a historian has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including the Utah Historical Quarterly, Airpower History, and the U.S. Army War College Press.
“This is my chance to show that I deserve to be a citizen of this country too. If I come back in a casket draped in the stars and stripes, they can’t say anymore that I’m not American.”
—From No Peace with the Dawn
In 1917, the Great War seems far from Logan, Utah. But soon it will change the lives of suffragette and mechanic Clara, Swiss-German immigrant and LDS convert Trudi, Marine Corps volunteer Reed, and Shoshone seeking U.S. citizenship Joseph. This novel weaves real events with compelling fictional characters into a sweeping tale of war, romance, self-discovery, and sacrifice.
From No Peace with the Dawn: I know the style of the day is to be oblique and coy in letters, but I feel like I must tell you what is in my heart. If nothing else, our experiences in France must surely teach us that life is fleeting and that we must live it fully while we can. To that end, I tell you now and forever that I am in love with you.
Q&A WITH THE AUTHORS
Please tell us a little about your newest release, No Peace with the Dawn.
NO PEACE WITH THE DAWN follows the lives of a group of friends as the U.S. enters the Great War. Daredevil Reed volunteers as a Marine and serves in some of the most grueling fighting on the Western Front, including the crucible of Belleau Wood. Joseph, a Shoshone, hopes to become a U.S. citizen by responding to the call when he's drafted illegally. Clara, determined to do her bit, volunteers to serve as a YMCA worker and then ambulance driver in France. Trudi, a Swiss-German immigrant who came to the U.S. to escape religious persecution, endures harassment on the home front as anti-German sentiment reaches a frenzy.
World War I is often overlooked, resting as it does in the shadows of World War II, but as the centennial of the U.S. entering the Great War approaches in 2017, NO PEACE WITH THE DAWN reminds us of the courage, sacrifices, and changing world of the “lost generation,” and helps us understand how the horrors of WWI shattered the innocence of a generation and set the stage for WWII. Though the main characters are fictional, their experiences are based on those of real people, and historical figures make an appearance in the book as well, including one of the great Marine heroes of WWI and the original Native American Code Talkers.
What is your favorite scene in NO PEACE WITH THE DAWN?
Jeff: My favorite scene is Reed standing in front of his Marines waiting to attack the Germans at Belleau Wood. It is his great test, under the most trying circumstances imaginable. He is afraid of failing more than he is of dying. He knows the men behind him will follow his example, but he doesn't know if he can even move forward toward the deadly German Maxim machine guns, much less lead his men.
Emily: Mine is a scene where Clara has to decide if she'll risk her own life for a chance to save a gassed soldier. Like Reed's scene above, it's a moment of truth for her, one where she realizes what matters to her and finds some peace from her inner demons.
Do you share any personality traits with the main characters?
Emily: Clara is much more daring than I am, but I think I share her intense frustration with injustice and desire to make things right.
Jeff: Not that many. Reed, at least in the early part of book, is cocky and a bit reckless, neither of which are a part of my personality. He is also pretty smooth with the ladies, another chromosome I lack. But one thing I like about Reed is his ability to grow as he assumes this great responsibility of leading men into combat. He learns humility and to put the well-being of others before his own. I like to think these are lessons I learned during my own military career, though Reed had to learn these lessons much faster than I did.
What type of hero do you like best?
Jeff: Humble ones. People like Captain George Hamilton, the Marine hero of the Great War. He fought in all eight Marine battles in WWI, earning two Navy Crosses and a host of other medals and awards. He led from the front and he never quit. We put him in the book as Reed's commanding officer, both to highlight his heroism and to provide an ideal Reed could aspire to become.
Emily: I've always liked every day heroes—the ones who are just living their lives as well as they're able to, but when they see a problem or an opportunity, they step up to do their part. World War I was full of those kind of heroes.
What was the hardest thing about writing NO PEACE WITH THE DAWN?
Emily: For me, it was related to the research. I was fascinated by all the stories I came across, and it was hard, sometimes, to have to decide to leave things out because they didn't fit with the rest of the book. It was also frustrating at times to be looking for details that just weren't recorded. World War I was only a hundred years ago, but there are still things that we've lost.
Jeff: That's a good question. It was a fantastic experience writing with E.B. Wheeler. I don't think co-authoring is for everyone, but it sure worked well for us. Without divulging plot spoilers, there is a scene in the book I wrote, a letter, where I cried like a baby when I wrote it and every time I read it for weeks after. It was such a strange experience because the story I'm telling is totally fictitious, but I guess I found myself pretty deeply invested in the characters and in the unfolding events. Is that a moment of Zen? I like to think it was.
AN EXCERPT FROM No Peace with the Dawn
“Why won’t you go out with me?”
“Because I don’t like you.”
“Don’t like me?” Reed wrinkled his forehead in confusion, then his eyes brightened with amused determination. “Well, I can fix that.”
Clara almost slapped the confidence off his face. So much for women’s inherent goodness and moral sensibilities. “Not likely, Mr. Lewis. I think you like yourself well enough for both for us.”
“Come, now. You wouldn’t make me celebrate alone, would you?”
“I’m sure you have a flock of admirers who would love to join you for ice cream.”
He laughed. “Maybe. But I don’t want a flock of admirers.” He leaned closer, so that the spicy scent of his cologne wrapped around her. “Just one.”
He winked again, and Clara glowered. “I would say I’m sorry to disappoint you, Mr. Lewis, but then I would be lying.”
“I like a challenge, Miss Jensen. And I always win.”
“So do I,” Clara said.
“Almost,” Reed amended, and before Clara really could smack him, he added, “Are you waiting for your brother to start your car? I can do that for you.”
Clara pushed past him, grabbed the crank, and gave a vicious upward jerk, kicking the engine to life. She climbed in, slammed the door, and scooted behind the wheel.
Reed folded his arms and grinned and she drove away. She almost thought the look he gave her was admiration, but that made no sense. She wouldn’t waste time worrying about it. She wouldn’t give Reed Lewis the satisfaction.
MEET THE AUTHORS
E.B. Wheeler attended BYU, majoring in history with an English minor, and earned graduate degrees in history and landscape architecture from Utah State University. She's the award-winning author of The Haunting of Springett Hall, Born to Treason, and No Peace with the Dawn, as well as several short stories, magazine articles, and scripts for educational software programs. She was named the 2016 Writer of the Year by the League of Utah Writers. In addition to writing, she consults about historic preservation and teaches history at USU. She lives in northern Utah with her family.
Jeff Bateman served in the U.S. Air Force for 32 years, retiring as a Colonel in 2010. He holds a BA and MS in Criminal Justice, an MA in History and an MS in Strategic Studies. Following his military career, Jeff worked as a civilian historian at the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Air Force Flight Test Center. He teaches American Military History and U.S. Institutions at Utah State University and is a member of the League of Utah Writers. He has taught workshops on military writing. Jeff lives on a mini-farm in the mountains of Northern Utah, where horses, gardening, and playing the bass fill every minute he is not writing or teaching.
This guest author posting is part of a blog tour coordinated by the publisher, Cedar Fort, Inc.
Print Length: 304 pages
Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc.
Publication Date: November 8, 2016