James Hockenberry

Author James Hockenberry’s May 2017 Blog

This month’s blog contains a bit of history, something about the books, a writing tip, and odds and ends. I’d love you to send any thoughts, comments or suggestions to info@jameshockenberry.com. Many thanks.

1) A little bit of World War One history:

The character of Over Here’s Felix Beck, head German spy in New York, is very much based on the real spy Franz von Papen. The book’s quote, “What I cannot buy, you will blow up,” (chapter 8) is attributable to him.
The NY police suspected his
duplicity and expelled him from the country in late 1915. Interestingly, he
became Chancellor of Germany in the 1930s and would relinquish the title to
Adolf Hitler who made him vice-chancellor.

2) What you did not know about the books:

My editor, Gayle Wurst, and
I share many unusual coincidences including living in
Switzerland for a long time, but one we both marvel at
concerns Dani Caarsens. Unbeknownst to me, when I approached Gayle to work on Over Here, she was the agent for Colin
Heaton’s book, The Four War Boer – The
Century and Life of Pieter Arnoldus Krueler
, who fought in the Boer War,
World War I, the Spanish Civil War, and World War II. Caarsens could have been
modeled on Krueler (and may well be in the future). Together with Gayle and her
knowledge of Krueler, we sharpened Caarsens’s character and commando skills. I
think he is the most compelling character in the book.

3) Writing tip – here are some techniques to increase tension:

Silence makes humans nervous. Same for readers. Make them wait and anticipate
what’s next.

Anxietyshow how a character is reacting to events. Make the drama real for
him – show, not tell. Use all the senses.

Strategic Tagginga great dramatic tool to dramatize action and
emotion. Helps pacing and cues character’s next moves.

Pacing Great tool. Vary (fast, slow). Short sentences can have powerful
Suspense – Build-up. Delay. Make reader anticipate (and be fully committed to)
what will happen next. The real drama is not the event, but the anticipation
(and all its options) of what will happen next. Use pitfall after pitfall to
build to a gratifying climatic sense.

4) Odds and Ends:

What am I

I have read 5
books on
America’s Meuse-Argonne offensive at the end of World War
One. I am studying them to solidify my understanding of the details and
controversies of the battle. They are helping to form an outline for book 3. 

Thrillerfest friend, Francine Mathews, is writing some marvelous World War II
thrillers including, Too Bad to Die, a
fast paced, beautifully written and marvelously researched spy story featuring
a fictional Ian Fleming. A great story with fun well-drawn characters.

Upcoming Author

Book signings
at Bekky’s Village Workshop in Peddler’s Village,
Lahaska, PA (shop #68, usually from noon to 3pm): May 20, 21 (from 10-noon), and 27; June 4, 18. Other dates to be
I have booked
a number of appearances / talks in the fall including one at the
Trenton library.

My book(s) are
on sale at the Newtown Book store (
2835 South Eagle Rd, Newtown, PA 18940), and I expect to do some book signings there over the summer.

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