Journal of a Pandemic Year: Part Nine

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Tatiana looks quite pleased with herself.

May 8th

 A bit of good news this morning. Actually, a lot of good news. We were able to secure the funds to rewire the house. 11K for a total rewire and a new breaker panel to bring the house up to current code. They will start work on May 18th. We can’t do it next week since it is final exams for me and so I need to have electricity and internet service to grade exams, enter final grades, etc. I think we’ll be dead before we are finished paying for all of the upgrades, but that is okay. It needed to be done. I’ll sleep better at night knowing that we’ll have a reduced risk of an electrical fire. We’ve been playing Russian Roulette with that for a while now, ironic, me being a retired fireman and all. So, if you are keeping track, that’ll be 25K in upgrades since this whole Rona thing began, not the virus has anything to do with it.

To mark the 75th Anniversary of VE Day, I’m having a Foyle’s War marathon.

May 9th

 Though the Western Allies celebrate VE Day on May 8th, due to the time difference, the signing of the surrender wasn’t announced in Moscow until just after midnight on May 9th. Yuri Levitan, the official radio voice of the Soviet government, made the official statement which you can listen to here. Incidentally, he was also the individual who, at eleven am Moscow time on June 22, 1941, told the Soviet people of the German invasion. You can find that announcement here. His voice was so recognizable that Hitler declared that upon the capture of Moscow, Levitan would be the first person killed by the Germans. All of his news broadcasts opened with the words, “ГОВОРИТ МОСКВА” (‘Moscow speaks”).

Though I suppose that I should be watching some epic Russian World War Two (or Great Patriotic War, as they call it) dramas today, I am forging ahead with my Foyle’s War marathon since I have quite a few more episodes to go. Instead, I will give you some recommendations here! One of the more recent ones that I’ve seen is Ancestral Land. It is a sweeping family epic that begins in the pre-war period, but the viewer follows the fortunes (or misforunes) of the family through the war and into the post-war period. At times funny, at times tragic, it is a worthy successor to the epic Russian dramas which have come before it. It is free if you have an Amazon Prime account, but if you don’t, you can find it, with English subtitles, on YouTube here. The tale of the all-female Soviet fighter pilot squadron known as the Night Swallows was also made into a series. It is excellent. I also recommend The Attackers and Three Days in the Life of Lt. Kravstov. Check out the Star Media YouTube channel for lots of series, covering all sorts of subjects, with English subtitles.

If you prefer books to TV, the classic Russian novel to come out of World War Two is Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman. It is often called the Soviet War and Peace. That’s an accurate statement, as it is massive in scope with lots of characters to follow, just like Tolstoy’s masterpiece. When he originally submitted the book for publication, it was seen as so inflammatory by the Soviet government that the KGB raided his flat, seized the manuscript, his notes, and even the typewriter ribbons! Grossman was told that the book could not be published for two or three hundred years. However, it was published in English in 1960, but the first Russian language version wasn’t published until 1980. This is somewhat akin to Doctor Zhivago which, despite being written in Russian, was originally published in another language. Though the book is widely available on Amazon, etc, if you want a special quarantine treat, you can find the BBC radio play adaption of the novel on Audible here. Who doesn’t like a good radio drama, right?

I’m in a lot of pain this afternoon. My back is really unhappy. It is funny, really. There is so much damage in my lower spine that it is impossible to figure out why there is still so much pain, but it doesn’t matter, I guess, since there is nothing that they can do for me that hasn’t already been done. They can transplant hearts, lungs, and kidneys, but they really can’t do any more for a damaged spine than they could do a hundred and fifty years ago (other than fusion operations, which usually don’t have good outcomes). The benefit of having a damaged spine one hundred a fifty years ago is that you could order morphine through the mail, no questions asked. I don’t want to go on a rant here, but the problem with the government pushing the “opioid crisis” is that it doesn’t have an impact on illicit drug users. They don’t obtain their stuff legally anyway. So instead, the DEA and CDC go after legitimate patients. If you were to look at my MRIs, you’d see how remarkable it is that I can even get out of bed. The doctors have said as much. But I can’t get adequate pain control because of all the restrictions. That said, I do get some and I make do with what I have. Truthfully, I have to be able to function anyway, and so more medication would make that difficult. Still, it would be nice to not have days like this. On my best days, my pain level is a 4. My usual day to day pain level is a 6. That’s my normal. Days like this are up around an 8. It is difficult to describe the pain, other than it feels like someone is pounding me in the back with a sledgehammer while simultaneously zapping my legs with cattle prods and sticking an ice pick into my hips. Fun times, right? I’ll be laying on some ice packs here in couple of hours. That always helps some.

May 10th

 I’ve had a lot of congestion in my chest due to allergies. Coughing is absolute murder on my back. The medication and ice helped yesterday, but I’m suffering today. Thankfully the coughing calmed down after I had been up for an hour or so. Due to my spine, I have to sleep flat on my back with a pillow under my knees. This means that overnight, all of the allergy gunk settles in my chest and getting out of bed in the morning triggers coughing spasms which then trigger back spasms. I’m assuming it is allergies, because they have been pretty bad of late, and not The Rona. I have no fever and don’t feel feverish. It is funny that with The Rona, allergy season has turned into the Salem Witch Trials. One cough and every stares at you. Or so I’ve been told. I’m avoiding going out in public.

This morning, virtual final exams opened. They’ll be closing at 11:59pm on Wednesday, May 13th and grades are due Friday, May 15th at noon. Final exam week, professors are usually bombarded with emails begging, demanding, cajoling, etc, a higher grade than what was earned and/or the opportunity to turn in an assignment that was due three months earlier. It is bad enough during a regular semester. This time, I’m expecting it to be REALLY bad, but we’ll see. Not to mention the fact that Blackboard, our online learning platform, is known to crash during periods of peak usage and now we have every single student taking every single final online. Most probably won’t log in to do them until Wednesday afternoon/evening. It’s a recipe for disaster, but there isn’t anything we can do about it. The important thing is, the semester is almost over. I’ll be glad to see it go. Lord knows what the fall will bring. Right now, the college is forging ahead with plans to have everything be business as usual in the fall. I’m not sure if that is wise or not. I think we should be making serious contingency plans.

May 11th

 I got a decent night’s sleep last night. It may very well be due to the dose of Nyquil I took about thirty minutes before bedtime. Today, I had to do some grading and, of course, the emails have started trickling in from students who haven’t turned in a thing all semester but still somehow feel entitled to an A. Yesterday, I finished my Foyle’s War marathon. Today, I am watching Band of Brothers and last night I watched Battleground, which is one of my favorite World War Two movies of all time. I’m just ready for Thursday to get here so I can enter grades and put this whole semester behind me as quickly as possible. I’m pretty sure that everyone feels the same way. But I don’t know what things will look like moving forward. The jury is still out on what the fall semester will look like.

I’m working on giving up the cigarettes too. It isn’t going all that great. With the downtime caused by the quarantine, I’ve had eight weeks in which sitting on the front porch and having a smoke is the only time I get outside the house. (I don’t smoke inside the house). This might actually explain some of my lung congestion, now that I think about it. Quitting, I mean. Yesterday, I made it thought the day with only ten cigarettes, down from my usual 30 or so. That’s a step in the right direction. Today has been better. I’ve only had three and it is already 1 pm. So I’m getting there, and I will get there, it’ll just take time. It is funny, but several years ago, back in 2012, I quit for a year and a half. I just woke up one day and said I wasn’t going to do it anymore. Never had so much as a craving. I remember wondering why people said it was so hard to quit when I had done it so easily. Well, I’m finding that out now.

May 12th

 Yesterday, I had an appointment for the electrician to stop by between noon and two to go over what we’ll need to do to get the house ready for the rewiring. He didn’t show up, but this morning I got a message from him on my cell phone saying that the office told him that I wanted him to call me. So maybe I just got confused with what the office told me. Regardless, I’ll call him back here in a little bit. It can easily be discussed over the phone instead of in person, so I’ll be able to get my questions answered. I do know that it is going to be a challenge for us given how small the house is and how full of furniture it is. Furthermore, I am unable to move any furniture owing to my damaged spine. We will probably have to have some help. A lot of help.

Tomorrow I have a task force meeting at ten. It is the task force on re-opening the college. This morning, I’ve looked over the draft plans for resuming normal operations and found some flaws, but I’m not sure what can be done about them. I’m afraid that we are planning for the best case scenario and ignoring the worst case scenarios. That’s the opposite of how it should be. We should be preparing for the worst case scenario and hoping for the best case scenario. I guess I’ll have to be the “bad guy” at the meeting and ask the uncomfortable questions that no one else wants to ask. (I have a bit of a reputation for doing that anyway). State entities like colleges are between a rock and a hard case with our governor acting like everything is fine, yet our daily case counts are the highest now that they’ve ever been. Maybe the pandemic will burn itself out this summer and we’ll be fine in the fall…for a while at least. People are predicting a second, potentially worse, wave in the fall. Who knows what will happen?

My allergies have been extreme today. I started sneezing immediately upon getting out of bed. Allergies have been bothering me all spring, around the same time this quarantine thing started. It is funny, but for the first 29 years of my life, allergies never bothered me. However, all that changed in 2007. I don’t know why/what happened to cause them to kick in, but they have. Every spring since then, I deal with sneezing, runny nose, occasional sore throat, and a dry cough. I loaded up on allergy medication this morning, and I’m doing a little better now. (10:30am)

This morning, I’m watching a British reality series called Churchill’s Agents: The New Recruits on Netflix. In the show, they take modern British volunteers and put them through the WW2 Special Operations Executive selection. For those who make it, they move on to the training portion. It is very interesting. Following the end of World War Two, my grandfather was part of the first contingent of Americans to arrive in Berlin. He stayed in Germany until early 1947 and was involved in Operation Paperclip. One day, a group of civilian men in uniforms visited him and offered him a civilian job to stay on in Berlin. He figured out that it was doing intelligence work for what would become the CIA. He said no, and they put him on a plane headed home the next day. At that point, he’d been overseas since 1942 and in the Army since 1940, and so it is understandable why he was ready to return to the States.

I talked over the game plan for repairs with the electrician by phone today. On Monday they are going to replace the panel. On Tuesday and Wednesday, they will re-wire the kitchen and living room. On Thursday and Friday, they will do the bedrooms and bathroom. We will be without power entirely on Monday while they do the panel but will get it back at night. After that, they will shut it off to the room they are working in but leave the rest running, so we will have some power during the repairs instead of being without power for the whole five days. That’s a definite plus. I now have a plan for how to move the furniture and where all to put it. As I said earlier though, the issue will be physically doing it since I cannot help at all and my wife can’t do it all by herself. We will manage though. I’m sure of it. It is five days of inconvenience and after that, we can sleep soundly knowing that the risk of fire is greatly diminished. (Not all the way diminished, since there is always a risk. But right now, our current electrical system is VERY risky.)

May 15th

 I just realized that I skipped two days of entries, but I had the last day of final exams and I had to enter grades. Also, they start working on the rewire job on Monday, and power will be sporadic for most of next week, so I probably won’t post on Thursday and will post over that weekend instead. (They’ll be finished by then.)

Until next time, friends, take care of yourselves.

And each other.

L.H.

The Silver Screen Part Two

Dear Readers,

I apologize for the somewhat lengthy delay between posts. My summer classes started a couple of weeks ago, and so I’m spending a couple of hours in the car plus four hours in a classroom during the week. It’s been tough to find time for much of anything. But enough of the excuses. Shortly after the release of my novel, I wrote a piece about the actors/actresses I’d most like to see play the four main roles. If you’ve forgotten it, check it out here. Now, I shall turn my attention to the minor roles. I’ll do this in two parts though. Today’s post will cover the Berlin story line and I’ll write another piece next week which will cover the story line in England. So let us sally forth and select a cast of characters! As before, it is imperative that the person must be relatively close in age to the character.

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I’ll start with Schneider. She’s one of the four young women assigned to Karl’s station as auxiliary firefighters. In a way, her character is the most important of the four as she had more of a rapport with Karl and thus had more dialogue and a, I guess you could say, memorable role at the end of the book. I think I like Dakota Fanning for the role. She did an excellent job in Brimstone and is close enough (five years) to Schneider’s age. I’m certain she could do justice to the character.

The other three auxiliary firefighters do not have major roles, and so who plays them isn’t quite as important as perhaps the others. That said, I think I’d like to see Sierra McCormick, Bailee Madison, and Veronika Bonell in the roles. I’m basing this primarily off the fact that they are the right age and would, in my opinion, look right in the role.

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The most important of the four Hitler Youth boys, whose name we never learn, happens to be the perfect role for a 14 year old indie actor who is from the large city nearest me. His name is Josh Wiggins. I do think he’d be spot on for it. Though a minor character in my book, the youth undergoes a bit of a dramatic change and so the chosen actor has to be able to convey that with few words. I think young Josh would be up to the challenge.

Ursula’s roommates, Monika and Gisela float in and out of the story. We catch glimpses of them at work and in the basement waiting out an air raid. They view the war as almost a source of amusement. Though minor characters, they are important because through conversations with them, we get an insight into Ursula’s views on the world. I think I would like Taissa Farmiga (L) as Monika and Hannah Kasulka (R) as Gisela.

Now let us turn our attention to the three firefighters who work alongside Karl. They have major roles to fill. As you’ll recall from when I wrote about the main characters, I’d like to see Volker Bruch as Karl Weber, station commander. It is important to note that the three other men, Baumann, Frei, and Fischer, are around a decade or so older than Karl’s character. My picks would be Matthias Brandt as Baumann, Til Schweiger for Frei, and Axel Prahl as Fischer.

There are, of course, some other characters (such as the Gestapo agent, Major Bandelin, etc), but this covers the major minor roles. Let me know what you think. And stay tuned for a future update about the the audiobook!

L.H.

 

 

 

Firefighting in a Doomed City

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Dear Readers,

This week I had the opportunity to binge watch a six episode series on Netflix called Charité at War which focuses on the lives of the staff at the famed Berlin hospital during the Second World War. The final episode stood out to me the most, as it dealt with how the hospital coped, and indeed continued to operate, despite the Battle of Berlin raging around them.

As my novel So Others May Live touches on the fire brigade in the city during the months in which the areal Battle of Berlin brought a nightly rain of fire to the city, seeing how a civilian hospital functioned despite shortages of almost everything was interesting to say the least. During the research for my own novel, I learned that the fire protection police in Berlin continued to operate up until the absolute end. Even while Soviet troops battered their way into the city, firefighters still answered calls.

On April 22, General Goldbach, the commander of the fire protection units in the city, ordered their evacuation. For this, he would be executed just a few days before the war ended. Over 100 firefighting vehicles and their crews made it out before the Russians cut the last road out of the city. However, some companies remained behind and continued to work in an increasingly deadly environment, as evidenced by their casualty lists. Others turned into soldiers, and defended their stations from the Soviet forces until they were overrun.

What follows are the Berlin firefighters killed in action during the last month of the war, though the list is not complete as record keeping was difficult to say the least, given the circumstances.

21 April 1945

Erich Malodystach and Werner Böhm drove into a Soviet ambush while returning to quarters after a responding to an emergency and were mortally wounded by machinegun fire.

24 April 1945

Herbert Wiesenthall was in a tow truck attempting to recover a stalled fire engine when he was caught in an artillery barrage and killed.

25 April 1945

Wilhelm Brand was in a column of fire protection police vehicles which came under areal attack and was mortally wounded.

Karl Pohlmann was killed while attempting to remove traffic obstructions near the Brandenburg Gate in either an artillery or an air strike.

General Walter Goldbach, the commander of the firefighter forces in Berlin, was executed by the government for previously ordering all fire protection units to evacuate the city on 22 April. Some did, but others remained behind and continued to work.

26 April 1945

Arthur Nieber was killed while attempting to re-locate some vehicles from Spandau.

27 April 1945

Gustav Merta was struck and mortally wounded by shrapnel from an artillery shell. He died later that day in the hospital.

28 April 1945

Herbert Zimmermann was killed by enemy fire while fighting a building fire.

30 April 1945

Otto Doerks was struck in the back by grenade fragments while fighting a fire in the city.

Richard Hackbarth and Otto Hall were killed by an artillery shell while returning from a call, along with a third, unknown firefighter.

The following are members of the Berlin Feuerschutzpolizei who were killed in action in April 1945, though the circumstances are unknown.

4 April 1945

Hermann Schinkinger

10 April 1945

Max-Joachim Baumgarten

23 April 1945

Kazimir Nawrotski

26 April 1945

Heinz Hamann

30 April 1945

Richard Raufeisen

Otto Streich

When you add the two lists, including the unknown firefighter on 30 April, then we can see that at least 17 firefighters were killed in action during the final few weeks of the war in Berlin. Technically you could say 16 since General Goldbach was the commander but not actually a firefighter. It is quite likely that the true number is higher, since many of the firefighter deaths in Berlin during the height of the war due to air raids or later street fighting went unrecorded.

One of these days, I’ll revisit the fire station I wrote about in So Others May Live and we will see what happened to the crews during the final two weeks of the war.

Lancaster Skies: A Review

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Dear Readers,

It’s a statistic that bears repeating. Nearly half of all Bomber Command aircrew died during World War Two. Most were in their late teens or early 20s. Their’s was a war fought in darkness over occupied Europe, with the night sky occasionally illuminated by searchlights, flak, or tracer rounds. Men from all over the Commonwealth, and indeed, the world, took to the night skies to deal death each night, while other young men, in different uniforms, did their best to kill them in return. The indie film Lancaster Skies manages to capture a slice of their world, and it is a film you should add to your watch list.

I will preface this by saying that I was able to watch in courtesy of my all region DVD player. It will be out in the United States later this year, but if you have a DVD player like mine, you can get it and enjoy it now. Follow the official website here for updates as to the specific US release date, though I’ll be sure to announce it here as well. Now on to the review…

I will not detail the plot, as that information is available on the film website other than to say it concerns a pilot who transfers from Fighter Command to Bomber Command and takes over a crew whose pilot was killed on their last operation. He has to win their respect, but doesn’t have much time to do it, as they are due for another mission soon.

The first thing to really strike me about this film was the cinematography. The lighting and camera angles are incredible. It gives the film an intimate feel, as though you are taking part in the events rather than merely watching them on screen. This helps you build a connection with the characters. It had an almost claustrophobic quality to it (similar to Das Boot), which is a good thing in a film like this as it recreates the tight quarters of a Lancaster, but also the lives of the men in Bomber Command as they were eternally squeezed between life and death.

The dialogue is lean and sparse, which suits the subject. Most American and British aircrew I’ve met in my life tended to be men of few words. There is an appropriate amount of banter as well, but not so much as to be over the top. (Think the novel and TV series Piece of Cake). Right away I appreciated the fact that the cast, at least visually, looked the right age. Wars are fought by young men, but the actors that play them usually aren’t. In this movie, the actors and actresses look the part. It was great to see the inclusion of some WAAF characters.

The aerial combat scenes both at the beginning and the ending of the film were both well filmed and well acted. It’s difficult to show nocturnal activities in a film sometimes because if it is too dark, the audience can’t see what they need to see, but if it is too light, then you lose the night setting. Thankfully, Lancaster Skies was able to find a happy medium. As a boxing fan, I appreciated the inclusion of a crewman who boxed and the scene of him engaging in the puglistic arts.

The remarkable thing about this film is that it was filmed on a shoestring budget. The fact that the filmmakers were able to produce such a quality movie is really a testament to their skills, as well as those of the actors. It just goes to show you that a small budget doesn’t always mean a small film. So my final verdict is to give Lancaster Skies two thumbs up. Stay tuned to the film website and to my blog for announcements about the upcoming US release, or spend $40 like I did and get an all region DVD player and get the movie now.

If read my novel So Others May Live and enjoyed the scenes which take place in a Lancaster over Berlin, then you will absolutely love this film. So get you hands on a copy as soon as you can. Though it would be staggeringly expensive, I think a film focusing on the Berlin firefighters in my novel would be pretty cool. Then again, movies about firefighters can either be good (Ladder 49) or absolute garbage (Backdraft, Backdraft 2). And, as a reminder, there is a great sale on World War 2 fiction taking place from June 5 through June 9 to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day landings. Numerous books listed for a mere 99 cents. You can see that list here.

Until next time, Dear Readers, here’s to hoping you don’t prang your kite and catch a rocket from your CO. He’s a right bastard.

L.H.

Lee Hutch is a retired firefighter/arson investigator. He is a history professor at a small college in Southeast Texas. His first novel, So Others May Live, was published in 2019 and tells the story of a Lancaster crew over Berlin and a group of firefighters on the ground. 

 

D-Day 75th Anniversary Sale

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Dear Readers,

In honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Normandy Landings, there is a special ebook sale! Several authors are offering their World War 2 novels at the low price of 99 cents! From action/adventure to romance, there is something for everyone in this sale. All of the books are set either during or just before the Second World War. The sale runs from June 5th through June 9th. Don’t miss out! Spend the summer with some great books.

You can see a list of the books with their purchase links here.

Happy Reading,

L.H.

Post Release Feeling

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Dear Readers,

It’s been one week since So Others May Live burst onto the stage. Well, maybe that’s a bit of an over dramatic way to phrase it. This past week has been hectic, to say the least. The book has been selling fairly well. I’m quite pleased with that, though to be honest, I wrote it because I had a story to tell, not because I expected to be jetting off to Tahiti with the money from a movie deal. As of this writing, Hollywood has not yet come calling. But if they do, I do have my actors picked out.

The amount of support I’ve gotten from the writing community, and my colleagues at the college, has been incredible. Not to mention from readers who are willing to fork over their money to buy something that I wrote. A think an author is eternally in debt to his or her readers. I know I will be. I am also in debt to all those who supported and encouraged me throughout this process. As this was my first foray into the publishing world, being able to ask for advice from authors who had been there allowed me to dodge many slings and arrows along the way.

Also this week, I secured a narrator for the audiobook. She is absolutely amazing. Seriously. I received several audition samples (the script was a few short scenes from the book), and when I listened to her my jaw dropped open. My initial reaction was “Holy [insert unprintable word]!” The characters sounded just like they sounded in my head when I wrote the book. My wife’s reaction was “Wow”. She’s German and that’s about as excited as she gets. It’ll be a while before the audiobook is ready, of course. But when it is, even those of you who have bought the book and read it will want to give it a listen.

The amazing thing to me about this whole process is, as I said above, people are willing to buy something I wrote. Imagine that, little old me from east Port Arthur, wrote a book. I’m an old firefighter. My joints hurt. My back injuries cause murderous pain. I don’t sleep much, partially due to pain and partially due to nightmares. I never thought I’d be able to actually write a book, though it has long been a dream of mine. I pushed through and got it done. So, Dear Readers, I implore you to never give up and keep chasing your dreams.

If you read or if you have read the book, drop me a line and let me know how you liked it. If you have a physical copy of the book, and you have a cat, I’d love to see a picture of the book with your cat!

Until next time, Happy Reading!

L.H.

So Others May Live: The Silver Screen

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Dear Readers,

I’m sure I’m not alone among novelists in pondering who we’d like to play our characters should our book be turned into a movie. Mine never will be, of course, but it is still a fun exercise. Sure, I’d love to see my characters brought to life, but then I’d complain about how the director/producer took my work of art and turned it into something else. I wrote my novel without considering this question, and so I’ve had to search for actors/actresses who fit what I envision when I think about my characters. Once you’ve read my book, please let me know if you concur with picks, or, if not, who you’d pick to play a character and why.

Of the utmost importance of selecting the following folks was age. Too many war films have actors too old to be believable in the role. Also, for Ursula, a redheaded actress was an absolute must as that is an essential part of her character. The only main character not in their early twenties is Karl Weber, who is in his mid thirties. But fortunately, there is a perfect actor for that role.

Rachel Hurd-Wood

Let’s start with Grace. Her character is in some ways the most important one in the novel, but I won’t spoil it for you by telling you why that is. It’ll be apparent when you finish reading the book. For her character, I’d select the English actress Rachel Hurd-Wood. She’s close to the right age, and she did an great job in the period drama Home Fires which ran for two seasons before it was abruptly canned. She has the right look, or at least I think she does. To me, having already acted in a WW2 series is a big plus. Though she wasn’t really a major character in the series, her character did experience highs and lows, from getting married to then losing her new husband in a tragic accident. As an actress, she handled that quite well and I am confident she could do justice to Grace’s character.

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From Grace, let’s move to her fiance Michael O’Hanlon. This would be a tricky one to cast. While Michael is from Belfast, whoever played him would have to be able to handle that accent, which is kind of specific. I don’t know if my selection, Liam Ainsworthy, can do that, but if so, I’d think him a good fit. He’s done some soap opera work in the UK and I know he isn’t Irish and it might be best to have an Irish actor in the role, but his name is Liam and that is Irish, so it’s close enough. The reason I think he’d do good in the role is that he has a brooding, almost haunted Irish look about him. That is an essential part of Mick’s character and so I think Liam would work in the role, provided he can do a Belfast accent. If not, it’s back to the drawing board. Note, he’s also young enough to be believable in the role.

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Confession time. I don’t watch Game of Thrones. (Go ahead and send me hate mail if you must, but it just isn’t my kind of show). That said, I think Sophie Turner would be perfect to play Ursula. She has red hair (a must for the role), and she’s young (another must). Acting in a series like GOT is no doubt quite a challenge, and is somewhat akin to a historical drama, so I’m certain she could handle portraying a young woman in 1943 Berlin.

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Volker Bruch is an absolutely perfect fit to play firefighter Karl Weber. He’s only a few years old than Karl’s character, and he has done an absolutely amazing job in two big period pieces, Generation War and Babylon Berlin (now on Netflix). In Babylon Berlin, he plays a police detective in the 1920s, so I’m sure he could handle playing a firefighter in the 1940s. He speaks English too, which is kind of important since the movie would need to be filmed in English. Though I had already finished writing the novel when Babylon Berlin debuted on Netflix here in the States, when I saw his character on screen, I thought to myself that he’d do a great job as Karl.

And as a bonus, this would be a great song to play over the closing credits.

I haven’t gone so far as to consider all the minor characters. That would be a bit too much for me, so I’ll just stop with the major ones. Feel free to let me know who your picks would be for characters major or minor. Maybe I’ll revisit this post in a few months with reader picks.

If you haven’t bought a copy yet, So Others May Live is available for Kindle and in paperback on Amazon and is available for hardcover pre-order on the Barnes and Noble website.

L.H.