Today I have a guest post from Donald Michael Platt, author of Close To The Sun. Mr. Platt has had a long career in teaching and writing, and I look forward to sharing a post penned by him. He has now begun to write many new novels in genres including historical and military fiction, and I hope that this post helps you learn more about the man behind the books.
Guest Post From Donald Michael Platt:
I thank you Nassem Al-Mehairi for inviting me to post on your blog.
I have loved reading about History since first memory and later immersing myself in Historical Fiction by age eight. If I saw a swashbuckler film first, I wanted to read the book it was based on and non-fiction to learn how much was true. No Tom Sawyer for me, I preferred Mark Twain’s Prince and the Pauper and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, both of which were made into films.
I bypassed Dickens, Johnny Tremaine, and the Hardy Boys for writers from the so-called Golden Age of HF. Many of their novels were made into films when I was a boy into my early Teens:
Rafael Sabatini’s Captain Blood, The Black Swan, and Scaramouche –
Samuel Shellabarger’s Captain from Castile and The Prince of Foxes –
Thomas Costain’s The Black Rose —
Frank Yerby’s The Foxes of Harrow, The Golden Hawk, and The Saracen Blade—Edison Marshall’s novel Benjamin Blake became the film Son of Fury and others that made it to cinema included Yankee Pasha and The Viking –
And at age twelve I even read Kathleen Windsor’s Forever Amber. All the HF and non-HF I have read since then would fill many pages.
Continuing my love of History, I earned my B.A. in History at U.C. Berkeley and taught it as well. Able to write in several genres and media, film and TV, I decided the time had come for me to try HF.
Although my first published novel A Gathering of Vultures was contemporary horror, I included some history about worship of vultures going back to ca, 7,000 BC.
Little known historical characters who led exceptional lives have always interested me. I wanted to know more about them, but often no information existed to fill the gaps and satisfy my curiosity. That is why I wrote my first HF novels Rocamora and House of Rocamora based on the life of Vicente de Rocamora. a sparsely documented historical personage who went from Dominican ( the monastic Order that controlled the Inquisition) royal confessor and spiritual director for the teenage teenage Infanta of Spain and sister of Philip IV to at age 46 a Jewish physician in Amsterdam, married a twenty-five year old woman who would give him nine children over the next eleven years.
Another historical personage who appears in my next novel to be published in September of this year is Bodo, the Apostate, as described in this blurb for the back cover:
“… in the meantime, a credible report caused all ecclesiastics of the Catholic Church to lament and weep.” Prudentius of Troyes, Annales Bertiniani, anno 839
On Ascension Day May 22, 838, Bishop Bodo, chaplain, confessor, and favorite of both his kin, Emperor Louis the Pious, son of Charlemagne, and Empress Judith, caused the greatest scandal of the Carolingian Empire and the 9th century Roman Church.
My novel, Bodo the Apostate, dramatizes the causes, motivations, and aftermath of Bodo’s astonishing cause célèbre that took place during an age of superstitions, a confused Roman Church, heterodoxies, lingering paganism, broken oaths, rebellions, and dissolution of the Carolingian Empire.
About my novel published this past June 15th,, 2014, Close to the Sun follows the lives of two Americans and a German from childhood through the end of WWII. As boys, they idealize the exploits of WWI fighter aces known as chivalrous Knights of the Skies.
Hank Milroy from Wyoming learns his first flying lessons from observing falcons. Karl, Fürst von Pfalz-Teuffelreich, aspires to surpass his father’s 49 Luftsiegen accumulated during WWI. Seth Braham falls in love with flying during an air show at San Francisco’s Chrissy Field. The young men meet exceptional women. Texas tomboy Catherine “Winty” McCabe believes she is as good a flyer as any man. Princess Maria-Xenia, a stateless White Russian, works for the Abwehr, German intelligence. Elfriede “Elfi” Wohlmann is a frontline nurse. Mimi Kay sings with a big band.
Flying fighters over Europe, Hank, Karl, and Seth experience the exhilaration of aerial combat victories and acedom during the unromantic reality of combat losses, tedious bomber escort, strafing runs, and firebombing of entire cities. Callous political decisions and military mistakes add to their disillusion, especially one horrific tragedy at the end of the war.
Why did I write Close to the Sun? A sentient boy during WWII, I admired the fighter aces and their sleek planes. Over time I was given access to many documents from both the Allies and the Axis, and I met and conversed with aces from the USAAF, the RAF, and the Luftwaffe. A novel formed in my mind and I sat down to write.
I wanted to create a fictional USAAF fighter group and its squadrons for my fictional composite American characters against a realistic background. It took some time to find numbers that had not been used. For the Luftwaffe, I chose to use historical unit and bases.
My next challenge was to create composite characters. I wanted the two Americans to represent country and city, with a secondary character who had all the negative traits of certain fighter aces. I found it easier for purposes of the novel to make the Luftwaffe ace an aristocrat. The history of the air war over Europe carried the narrative.
I did not want Close to the Sun to be an all-male story, so I added four female characters. Winty McCabe was easy to create because she was the embodiment of all women who wanted to fly and who served as a WASP, Women’s Airforce Service Pilot. A Russian princess who worked with the anti-Nazi faction in the Abwehr, German Intelligence, gave me the inspiration for Mariya-Xenia. Given that some U.S. fighter aces wed actresses and big band singers, after a while I came up with the singer streetwise Mimi Kay. Last of all, I added Elfie, a German combat nurse for purposes of story.
My publisher has asked me for a sequel to Close to the Sun, which I have begun, and many more HF novels have been written in my mind.
Donald Michael Platt, Biography~
Author of five novels Rocamora, House of Rocamora, A Gathering of Vultures, Close To The Sun, and Bodo, the Apostale, Donald Michael Platt was born and raised in San Francisco. Donald graduated from Lowell High School and received his B.A. in History from the University of California at Berkeley. After two years in the Army, Donald attended graduate school at San Jose State where he won a batch of literary awards in the annual SENATOR PHELAN LITERARY CONTEST.
Donald moved to southern California to begin his professional writing career. He sold to the TV series, MR. NOVAK, ghosted for health food guru, Dan Dale Alexander, and wrote for and with diverse producers, among them as Harry Joe Brown, Sig Schlager, Albert J. Cohen, Al Ruddy plus Paul Stader Sr, Hollywood stuntman and stunt/2nd unit director. While in Hollywood Donald taught Creative Writing and Advanced Placement European History at Fairfax High School where he was Social Studies Department Chairman.
After living in Florianópolis, Brazil, setting of his horror novel A Gathering Of Vultures, pub. 2007 & 2011, he moved to Florida where he wrote as a with: VITAMIN ENRICHED, pub.1999, for Carl DeSantis, founder of Rexall Sundown Vitamins; and THE COUPLE’S DISEASE, Finding a Cure for Your Lost “Love” Life, pub. 2002, for Lawrence S. Hakim, MD, FACS, Head of Sexual Dysfunction Unit at the Cleveland Clinic.
Currently, Donald resides in Winter Haven, Florida where he is polishing a dark novel and writing a sequel to Close To The Sun.
Books By Donald Michael Platt: