What would happen if a poor girl made a shameful decision to feed her family? What would the consequences be? What would she be like when she grew up?
That series of questions was the inspiration for Lt. Ruth Doherty, an Army nurse during World War II, and the heroine of A Memory Between Us, the second book in the Wings of Glory series. Ruth’s character came to me when I was writing my first novel, A Distant Melody, which was meant to be a standalone book.
My hero in A Distant Melody was a B-17 pilot with the US Eighth Air Force based in England. While doing research, I became enamored with the Eighth and felt bad that my novel ended in mid-1943, a low point for the bomber crews over Nazi-occupied Europe. Then the ideas came together in one big whoosh—my hero had two brothers, who were also pilots. What if I wrote a book about each brother? Then I could follow the Eighth Air Force all the way to V-E Day.
In my mind I put Ruth in the same room with the middle brother, Jack Novak, a dashing and driven pilot who has never failed to meet a challenge. They bantered. They pushed each other. Sparks flew. At times when writing this story, I felt as if I were a bystander recording their dialogue. It was a lot of fun.
While researching Army nursing during World War II, I read about the first flight nurses, five hundred brave and pioneering women who conducted medical air evacuation. Having Ruth aim to become a flight nurse gave her a story goal—and the chance to get away when she needed it most.
“What if” questions, a sense of story incompletion, and intriguing bits o’ research—that’s where A Memory Between Us came from.