Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Interview with MG historical novelist Rob Currie

Today’s special author guest is Rob Currie. We’re chatting a bit about his new middle-grade historical, Hunger Winter: A World War II Novel.

During his virtual book tour, Rob will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit his other tour stops and enter there, too!

Life conspired to get Rob Currie to write Hunger Winter: A World War II Novel. His father is a World War II veteran and his wife is Dutch. An award-winning author, it was only a matter of time before he would focus his writing on World War II. Research for Hunger Winter included numerous books, interviews with Dutch WWII survivors, and three weeks in the Netherlands. His investigation revealed astonishing details about the Dutch experience of the war, which begged to be turned into a book.

Born and raised in the suburbs of Detroit, he graduated from Cornerstone University and went on to earn a master's degree and doctorate in psychology from St. Louis University. He has taught psychology at Judson University since 1987. His hobbies include playing basketball, cooking, and writing poetry.

Welcome, Rob. Please share a little bit about your current release. What inspired you to write this book?
Life hoodwinked me. When my seventh-grade son showed me a short story he’d written about World War Two, I suggested that he and I could take turns writing the rest of the story. He enthusiastically agreed so I took the first writing turn. My son soon lost interest, but as I did research, my fascination grew as I discovered the poignant hardship and heroism of the Dutch and realized their stories demanded to be shared. It was a fulfilling yet challenging experience because you do not simply write a novel so much as you wring it out of your soul.

Now that the book has been finished, I’m hearing from many kids and in some cases their parents, how much they are enjoying the book. For example, a fourth grader said, “Out of 10 stars I would give it 11.” A sixth grader said, “Tell him to write another book. I’ve recommended Hunger Winter to my friends.”

 Excerpt from Hunger Winter: A World War II Novel:
     As the soldiers let them through a gate, Els’s mind raced. She’d been delivered from death, but what lay ahead? Nothing the enemy had in mind could be good. Her legs trembled as rifle butts and curses herded her and the other prisoners into the back of a Gestapo van. Unseen hands slammed the back door and locked it with a metallic clank.
     The captives collapsed on the floor from physical and mental fatigue, but they soon found their voices. One man said that because his family had hidden Jews, soldiers gave them only twenty minutes to gather a few essentials before being taken into captivity. In addition, the Nazis gave their house away to new residents and ordered the man’s children to arrange bouquets of flowers for the newcomers. A murmur of sympathy rippled through the group.
     A woman said the Gestapo had arrested her for naming her pig Hitler. With voices hoarse due to their emaciated condition, the captives howled with glee, and happy tears flowed. When the merriment ended, someone said, “I bet your pig had better manners than Herr Hitler,” and the laughter exploded again.
     “And I bet the pig had a better mustache, too,” Els added. She laughed so hard her sides hurt.
     Minutes later the van stopped and the door swung open.
     “Where are we?” a woman asked as she peered at a large building.
     “Nowhere we want to be,” Els answered. She lowered her voice. “Stay strong. And don’t tell them anything.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am doing research for a sequel. Possibilities include how the Dutch Resistance fought against the Germans’ super weapon which was the V2 rocket. It weighed 14 tons and travelled at over three times the speed of sound so you couldn’t see it in time to shoot it down. Many of these super weapons were launched from the Netherlands, where my story takes place.  

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
God bless Miss Ballard, our high school English teacher, who taught us creative writing. After I completed a few of her creative writing assignments, I was hooked. She knew her stuff and was very encouraging.

If you don’t write full-time, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I teach psychology at the college level so most of my writing time comes in the summer when my life drastically changes. I don my “writing super hero” costume—ordinary shorts and a t-shirt, before biking 40 minutes to the office to get my heart rate up and pump oxygen to my brain. Then I immerse myself in the story, researching, writing, and rewriting. Someone once said the soul of writing is rewriting. That is the bare truth. It’s the hardest and most satisfying aspect of the work to struggle, strain, and finally know you nailed it.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
 I drink one hundred ounces of water per day because water significantly clarifies the thinking.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I was the oddball kid in my class who never knew what career he wanted. All my friends in elementary school knew, or thought they knew, that they wanted to be police officers or teachers or whatever.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Hunger Winter is grabbing and holding readers’ interest. Thirteen-year-old Tom read Hunger Winter and a month later when he was assigned to pick another novel, he told his dad “I want another book like Rob Currie’s.” Eleven-year-old Paige read it and said, “I never thought I’d be interested in WWII but now I really am.” Fifty-nine-year old Bob read Hunger Winter and said it is the first book he has read all the way through since he graduated from college.


Thanks for joining me today, Rob.

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Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Rob Currie said...

I'd love to answer questions from readers. Or you may want to respond to this one. Which aspect(s) of World War II interest you?

Rob Currie said...

I'd love to answer questions from readers. Or you may want to respond to this one. Which aspect(s) of World War II interest you?

Rita Wray said...

I enjoyed the excerpt, thank you.

Rob Currie said...

Thank you, Rita. I think Els was my favorite character because she was so mentally strong.

James Robert said...

I appreciate getting to read about your book. With sisters and daughters who love to read, this helps so thank you.

Danielle merkle said...

I love the cover!