From the New York Times bestselling author of Sold On A Monday—over a million copies sold!—comes a sweeping World War II tale of an illusionist whose recruitment by British intelligence sets her on a perilous, heartrending path.As a little girl raised amid the hardships of Michigan’s Copper Country, Fenna Vos learned to focus on her own survival. That ability sustains her even now as the Second World War rages in faraway countries. Though she performs onstage as the assistant to an unruly escape artist, behind the curtain she’s the mastermind of their act. Ultimately, controlling her surroundings and eluding traps of every kind helps her keep a lingering trauma at bay.
Yet for all her planning, Fenna doesn’t foresee being called upon by British military intelligence. Tasked with designing escape aids to thwart the Germans, MI9 seeks those with specialized skills for a war nearing its breaking point. Fenna reluctantly joins the unconventional team as an inventor. But when a test of her loyalty draws her deep into the fray, she discovers no mission is more treacherous than escaping one’s past.
Inspired by stunning true accounts, The Ways We Hide is a gripping story of love and loss, the wars we fight—on the battlefields and within ourselves—and the courage found in unexpected places.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.
I’m a native Oregonian and a mom of two teenage (going-on-forty) boys, the oldest of which I just sent off to college. (How on earth did that happen so fast?!) As for my start in writing…
About a dozen years ago, I sat down to interview my grandmother for the biographical section of a homemade cookbook I was creating, full of recipes she’d collected and created over decades, as a Christmas gift for the grandkids. When she shared her WWII courtship letters from my late grandfather, I left her house inspired by a sudden idea for a Cyrano de Bergerac-type story, the premise of which ultimately became my debut novel, Letters from Home.
That’s an easy one! Spending time with my kids and close friends, whether having dinner on the patio or playing a card game (if it’s team cribbage, watch out; my youngest and I will take you down!) or traveling or binging a show together—or yes, watching just movie trailers, because I could watch those for hours!
Finish this: “I can’t write without…”
…my big Yeti tumbler full of vanilla- or salted caramel tea, topped off with honey and sweet cream. Oh, and my laptop of course. No writing a novel by longhand for me.
If I had to spend a week on a deserted island, I would need…
Aside from food, water, and shelter, the two things I regret not being diligent about until adulthood: sunblock and floss. As a kid, it was all about quick brushing and Hawaiian Tropic!
What career did you think you’d have as an adult?
For a few years in grade school, I recall my standard answer being “a nun or a belly dancer.” Not because I was Catholic or knew how to belly dance; that would be too logical. I simply liked their outfits.
If I wasn’t an author, I might be…?
An event planner or a TV host, two of my former jobs that I loved. For more than the outfits.
What is something about you that would surprise people?
Since the pandemic began, and everyone was in the house all the time, my writing hours evolved to take advantage of the quiet wee hours and haven’t yet changed, so (insanely) I continue to often stay up until 3am. (And wake up by 9 or 10am, by the way, since I’m guessing that might be your next question.)
Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?
Yep. Full-time mom. And I love it.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
Fifty-some agent rejections and I have the file folder to prove it. Ironically, many of those rejection letters expressed a belief that there simply wasn’t a market for WWII fiction. (You’re laughing now too, right?) So, my advice to other writers: Don’t let current trends dictate your stories; write what you love and what you’d want to read.
What are you working on now?
Mostly, I’m gearing up for two back-to-back book releases and tours (crazy, I know) in September and October, when I’m zipping back and forth among fifteen states. I’m planning to sleep for the month of November.
Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences?
So, so many—from the covert work of the British Intelligence section MI9 to several real-life tragedies that I happened across in my research and was stunned weren’t widely known.
Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?
Ooh, there are several close to my heart, but if I had to name one, it would be the epilogue, because it truly ties the novel’s many threads together and (yes, I’m a nerd for admitting this) has made me teary every time I’ve read it through as I edit.
Do you have a favorite character?
Okay, that’s like picking a favorite child, right? Gosh, I’m torn on this one…but because I wrote the story through Fenna’s eyes, I’d have to say her best friend Arie. He’s a goodie, in every way. And I can’t wait for readers to meet him too.
Do you have other books you’d like to talk about here?
I’m very excited about When We Had Wings, a collaborative novel I wrote with my dear friends Susan Meissner and Ariel Lawhon, set for release on October 18th. It’s an interwoven tale featuring a trio of nurses—from the US Army and the US Navy, and a Filipina—among those dubbed the “Angels of Bataan.” The three become fast friends while serving in Manila in 1942, just before the Imperial Japanese forces invade the Philippines and change the course of their relationships and lives forever.
What was some unique research you had to do for a book?
No question, my favorite research endeavor was when I flew on a B-17. That’s what I call a great day at work.
Favorite band or music?
I have a wide range of favorite music, but to name a sample, I’d say tunes from the 1940s and 1950s.
Favorite book and/or movie?
Favorite book: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Favorite movie: A tie between Gladiator and Shawshank Redemption
Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?
Thank you, thank you for all your support, for allowing my stories into your hearts, and for sharing my books with others. I hope to see you all during my tour, whether in person or through a virtual event. (Just swing by my website for all the latest details.) And of course, I really hope you enjoy The Ways We Hide!
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