Archive for the ‘Women Spies of World Wars’ Category

Spycraft in the Dark Talents trilogy

Within intelligence communities, spycraft refers to the techniques used by spies to gather intelligence and remain undercover. The need to manipulate, discover, and remain secret has spawned the time-tested techniques used by spies everywhere.

I used these methods throughout the Dark Talents trilogy, set in England in 1936. Here are some examples culled from Kim Tavistock scenes in Book two, Serpent in the Heather.

In eBook and hardcover. In paperback on Apr. 16.

SIGN OF LIFE. To confirm with handlers or HQ (the “office” in British intelligence service parlance) that one is on duty and pursuing the mission.

In a wool skirt and sweater set Kim made her way down to the castle parlor, where she put in her call to Knightsbridge and Nash Photo Finishing. Someone from the Office answered appropriately and said her photo prints would be ready on Wednesday. Her sign-of-life call complete, she turned to find Powell had entered the drawing room.

THE COVER PERSONA. Obviously, spies wish to remain undetected as such. To that end, they adopt ostensible business and deflecting personal attributes.

“Tread carefully with this Coslett woman, Kim. We’re only allowed a limited operation. You must deploy your witless- American mode to perfection.”

She snapped a look at him. “I didn’t know I had one.”

“What? Oh, yes, quite a good one. Charging around all innocent and eager. Top-notch.”

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A Galactic Time Was Had

A fun evening at Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego Friday night. I talked about the forgotten women who played heroic roles undercover in WWII. Inspiring stories, surprising and at times devastating. Thanks to all who turned out! If you’re interested in this topic, see the category “Women Spies of the World Wars” in these posts.

Kay at bookstore

I’m at Mysterious Galaxy

spies of the World Wars, Krystyna Skarbek

Krystyna Skarbek

“Women spies of World War II” will be my topic at Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego on January 19. I’m excited to talk about what has become my favorite topic: the women who inspired me to write At the Table of Wolves, the first book in my Dark Talents trilogy. (Featuring the women shown below and more.)

Check it out here! Mysterious Galaxy is one of my very favorite bookstores, and I’m so happy to be there on Friday. For those of you who’ve inquired, my cat Winston has declined to accompany me since he will be napping, but my husband Tom will be there–I know, a poor substitute for Winston fans. . . So who was my cat named after? Yup!

The sequel, Serpent in the Heather, is out April 10, and the trilogy concludes with Nest of the Monarch, coming soon!

Event particulars:

A chat and signing At the Table of Wolves
Friday, January 19, 2018 – 7:30pm
Mysterious Galaxy
5943 balboa ave
suite 100
San Diego, CA 92111

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Women Spies of the World Wars: Violette Szabo

This blog series on women working undercover during the world wars highlights a few of the storiesAt the Table of Wolves, historical fantasy that inspired me while writing At the Table of Wolves which deals with the anti-fascist career of Kim Tavistock in the years leading up to WWII.


Violette Szabo was a French-born Englishwoman, one of the most decorated women of the SOE (Special Operations Executive). At the age of 20, having just lost her husband at El Alamein, she was eager to avenge his death and took training to serve as a courier to the French resistance.

SOE was always on the lookout for fluent French speakers, and Szabo came to their attention because she had been active with Britain’s Auxiliary Territorial Service in an anti-aircraft battery. Just 5’3″ her diminuitive size raised concerns when she was interviewed. But Szabo had always been athletic, and upon induction into SOE, took training in parachuting, weapons, and demolition. Read More…

Women Spies of the World Wars: Pearl Cornioley

At the Table of Wolves, historical fantasy

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.


Pearl Cornioley

This amazing World War II operative rose to the highest ranks of the French resistance and was deemed the best shot British intelligence had seen, male or female.

Cornioley was 29 when she was sent to France as part of Churchill’s Special Operations Executive (SOE). Her flawless French and determination to fight the Nazis brought her quickly to prominent leadership in the resistance.  She began as a courier between the British and the French resistance and rose to command 3,000 underground fighters, the only woman to serve as a network leader. At one point she presided over the surrender of 18,000 German troops. As cover, she often had a suitcase of cosmetics to deflect suspicion during her travels in occupied France. Read More…