Archive for the ‘Inside the Book’ Category

Women Spies in the World Wars: Virginia Hall

Many women worked undercover during the world wars, but we know the names of only a few. Like men in the secret intelligence services, many went to their graves never revealing their roles. This blog series highlights a few that inspired me while writing At the Table of Wolves.

Female spies; At the Table of Wolves

Painting of Virginia Hall at work as a spy. It’s displayed at the CIA in their fine art collection.

Virginia Hall.

The Gestapo badly wanted to apprehend this American spy, sending out an order saying, “She is the most dangerous of all Allied spies. We must find and destroy her.”

Virginia Hall was infamous as “The woman with the limp,” as she had a wooden leg, the result of a hunting accident. Read More…

Women Spies in the World Wars: Marika Rokk

In my research for At the Table of Wolves, I found a number of fascinating stories of women who played important roles in the world of espionage. This is one of them.

Marika Rokk

Said to be one of Hitler’s favorite actresses, Marika Rokk is likely to have had a secret life working against the Nazis for the Russians.

Women spies, Marie RokkBorn in Cairo to Hungarian parents and raised in Budapest, Marika Rokk got her start in show business in Paris, performing in the Moulin Rouge cabaret.

She was in the right place at the right time in 1935 when Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister, decided that Germany needed its own film star who could help showcase German films and engage in the culture wars with Britain and particularly the US with its superstars like Ginger Rodgers and Rita Hayworth. Rokk was relatively well-known dancer in various European revues and was tapped by Goebbels to be a Nazi film star. Subsequently, the two had an affair, but it is believed that by 1940 she had been recruited by the KGB. Read More…

How I came to write At the Table of Wolves

For a little background on how I came to write my latest novel, At the Table of Wolves, here are some frequently asked questions.

Why did you chose to set this historical fantasy in the 1930s?

The 1930s – and particularly in England – was a period overshadowed by the catastrophic losses of World War I. Every family had its losses, and the public attitude was to willfully turn a blind eye to Hitler’s arms build up. So instead of a war with steal, it became a shadow war of spies, secrets, and deception. It is such a fertile ground for fiction! The roster of characters and motivation is vast: British aristocracy fearing the loss of class privilege, fascists, pacifists, spies and those who chose to do nothing. This historical context raises an interesting question: What would you have done? How much would you have sacrificed to stop the coming war?

What inspired you to write this historical fantasy?

The first inspiration came from William Manchester’s biography of Winston Churchill. I’m especially interested in the World Wars (and their lead-ups)–times with amazing contrasts between self-sacrificing idealism and staggering villainy. I had previously dealt with the historical period of the 1850s in England and India for my fantasy A Thousand Perfect Things, and was looking for a different, largely unexplored, time period for my next fantasy.
Read More…

At the Table of Wolves gets a star

So pleased to report that Publishers Weekly gave my forthcoming novel a starred review! Very happy about this, and also, I must admit, relieved. As you might imagine, waiting for big reviews just prior to publication date can be a nail-biting exercise.

Will people get my book, the things I was trying to accomplish, trying to say? Will they enjoy my story concept and characters? Or . . . or . . . (My fellow authors can fill in the blanks on pre-pub-day anxiety and dark imaginings.) But so far, so good. Publication day: July 11. For a list of my appearances, please see here  (scroll to bottom.)

PW Starred Review: At the Table of Wolves

At the Table of WolvesVeteran SF/F author Kenyon turns to historical paranormal fantasy in this compelling recreation of an alternate 1936 Britain rife with espionage, intrigue, and moral ambiguities. Idealistic young journalist Kim Tavistock, raised in America but now settled into her father’s stately home in Yorkshire, grapples with the suspicion that her father may be, like many of his aristocratic class, a Nazi sympathizer. King Edward will soon abandon the throne for “that woman,” Wallis Simpson, who is herself dangerously close to Erich von Ritter, a character loosely based on the seductive real-life Nazi agent Joachim von Ribbentrop. Kenyon adds enormous fuel to this smoldering prewar scene with the bloom, a sudden appearance in 1918 of psychic talents affecting about one in 1,000 people. It’s suggested that this manifestation was produced by the mass trauma of the Great War. Kim’s psychic gift is spill, which causes others to reveal their deepest secrets to her. The Nazis are a decade ahead of the British in finding military uses for psychics, and Kim is drawn into a quixotic attempt to foil a Nazi plan for invading England, risking her heart and her life in the “tawdry, morally wretched” game of spying. Kenyon’s finely tuned historical atmospherics and her sure-handed development of even minor characters make this novel a superb adventure, worthy to launch a distinguished historical fantasy series. (July)

Available for preorder:

Signed copy. A Book for All Seasons, Leavenworth, WA

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