by George T. Chronis
Sudetenland is the premiere novel by author George T. Chronis. The book delivers suspenseful and sweeping historical fiction set against Central European intrigue during the late 1930s leading up to 1938’s Munich Conference. Having swallowed up Austria, Adolph Hitler now covets Czechoslovakian territory. Only France has the power to stand beside the government in Prague against Germany… but will she? The characters are the smart and sometimes wise-cracking men and women of this era – the foreign correspondents, intelligence officers, diplomats and career military – who are on the front lines of that decade’s most dangerous political crisis. If Czechoslovak president Edvard Beneš ignores the advice of French premier Édouard Daladier and refuses to give up Bohemian territory willingly, then Hitler orders that it be taken by force. The novel takes readers behind the scenes into the deliberations and high drama taking place within major European capitals such as Prague, Paris, Berlin, Vienna and London as the continent hurtles toward the crucible of a shooting war.
Ros strutted into Lasky’s office, coming to a dead end in front of the wood desk that was as long as Rhode Island. She tapped the sole of her shoe on the floor impatiently while Lasky bellowed at someone else in the newsroom. At least the afternoon view over Manhattan was pleasing. Blowing in like a foul wind, Lasky slammed the door and walked right past her.
“Boss, I’m sorry to run a little fast with your image back there,” Ros offered up in appeasement.
Still rounding his desk, Lasky shook her off with a wave of his hand. “Forget it. That’s not why you’re here. I have a job for you.”
Wondering whether she should be concerned or happy, Ros decided to play along. “What kind of job?”
Sitting down, Lasky rifled through some paperwork until he found the document he was looking for.
“Yeah, go find this guy Lester downstairs, he’ll get you all set up. Lodging, fares, advances, the whole low-down,” Lasky finished, handing her the form.
“Who’s Lester? What are you talking about? Where am I going?” she blurted out before taking a wild glance at the paperwork.
Lasky thought if he could keep Ros distracted, maybe he could get the problem child on the boat before she could cry about needing a raise. He reached out and grabbed the form back. Throwing it on the desktop, Lasky signed the paper with his fountain pen.
Done, he thrust the page back at Ros. “Paris. I’m sending you to Paris.”
Ros looked down at the form, then at Lasky, then back at the form. “I’m going to Paris? When did someone around here start liking me?”
“Stop dreaming, no one around here likes you,” Lasky taunted her while he walked back around to the front of his desk. “That screwy Miranda just stabbed me in the back. She found herself some guy over there, got married, and now she’s running off to some French island in the Caribbean. I need someone to pick up the pieces in Paris. That’s you.”
“Just slow down. Miranda got hitched?” all of the angles weren’t coming together in Ros’ head.
“Yeah, nice announcement: Hi Harry, I got married, and I quit,” Lasky mimicked a feminine voice. These damn ditzy broads were always letting him down. But Ros showed promise. Pointing his finger repeatedly at her nose, he continued his rant. “Miranda left me high and dry, so I’m sending you to pick up the pieces. You, I don’t have to worry about. With that mouth, no one is going to be marrying you.”
“Harry!” Ros yelled indignantly. “You’re not painting a very enticing picture for me here. What if I don’t want to go to Paris?”
Lasky stared at her incredulously. “Who doesn’t want to go to Paris? Any one of those stooges out there would kill to go to Paris but none of them have what you’ve got.”
With her natural skepticism starting to boil over, Ros leaned in closer and started jabbing Lasky in the shoulder with two fingers, slowly backing him up against the desk.
“I know what you’re up to Harry,” her tone low and threatening. “Miranda was on a fashion beat. That means to you the only thing I got that those mugs out there don’t have, is boobs. It’s another glorified gossip beat, you rat!”
“It’s Paris! C’mon, every woman wants to go to Paris,” Lasky shouted in his defense.
“That’s not the point,” Ros continued poking him. “I’m tired of going to county fairs. I’m tired of the only labor unrest stories coming my way having to be in washing machine factories. I’m tired of reporting on this ditzy socialite, and that boring dolt of a millionaire. I want a real beat like a real reporter, Harry. I can do the job just as good, or better, as those guys out there and I cost less.”
“Stop trying to get on my good side,” Lasky retorted, readying his counter attack. He hadn’t expected this much of a fight. But he needed her and he couldn’t run the risk of her bolting.
“Listen, give me a chance here. You’re the only person I’ve got who can jump in and take over for Miranda. But you’re also a hell of a lot better than she is… err, was. You won’t have to work as hard to cover her beat. In case you haven’t noticed, between the Nazis and Mussolini, there’s one crisis after another going on over in Europe. I’m sure there’s going to be some important stories Walter and our boys won’t be able to get to. What you do with your free time is up to you.”
Somewhere in there were a couple of compliments, but she wasn’t going to let him twist free that easily. Paris did sound kind of nice, and he was throwing her a bone in the way of real work, but Ros was sure the beat would take up more time than Lasky was promising, and she wanted something else from him… for pride, and because she could. So Ros just silently stared Lasky down, daring him to add one more carrot to get her to sign on.
“Okay, and I’ll throw in a raise,” Lasky conceded after a long standoff.
“Done!” Ros threw her arm out to shake hands with Lasky to seal the deal.
An Interview with the Author:
1. How long have you been writing?
GTC: Sudetenland is my first novel. After a couple of years conducting primary research I started writing pages in 2001 and completed the first draft 11 years later. In my defense, there were some lengthy breaks in-between for important stuff like getting married. But I actually started getting paid for writing magazine articles in 1984 and ended up a career journalist and editor. There was also a screenplay early on that got some nibbles but was never optioned.
2. How long have you been a published author?
GTC: In 2013 I went the traditional route and tried looking for literary representation. My plan was to give the search a year starting with agents in the U.K. My strategy was a Europe-first release since I thought the book would have a stronger appeal over there thanks to the subject matter, and as most of the English-language publishers are in the U.K. that’s where I started. After eight months or so of getting delightfully charming rejections I added U.S.-based agencies. It was abundantly clear that agents thought Sudetenland was too long, with too many characters and was sadly not young adult, not about dystopian futures or vampires or dysfunctional relationships. My conviction is you can do long if your pacing is swift, and I a large cast of characters was required to be able to cover the central crisis behind the plot. So undeterred, I ploughed back in to conduct another polish edit for good measure and self-published on ebooks in the fall of 2014. After a very positive response I added a paperback edition in March of this year.
3. What titles do you have available? Do you have any new titles coming soon?
GTC: Coming later this year is an adaptation of that screenplay I mentioned before. It’s a Film Noir story set in late 1940s Los Angeles. It is a much less ambitious read that Sudetenland but has some fun historical hooks and great atmosphere. The sequel to Sudetenland is going to take some time and I wanted to get something else out there for the people who enjoyed my first novel.
4. What made you choose the subject of this book?
GTC: After I decided I wanted to write a novel my first thought was I wanted something accessible. Next, I loved history since I was a kid so historical fiction seemed like the right choice. I have known about the Sudeten Crisis of 1938 since I was a teen because I had a pen pal in Prague during the 1970s. This test of wills between Germany and Czechoslovakia was a very pivotal moment in world history. So in this subject there was superb conflict present with lots of suspense, human drama, politics and tension to work with. There was also a classic what-if question of what happens if the Czechoslovaks had decided to resist Hitler instead of submitting. The Germans did not have the overwhelming advantages in 1938 that many people still give them credit for. So I wanted to explore that aspect of the story… what happens if things go wrong for Hitler?
5. What is your favourite genre and why?
GTC: My sense of storytelling supposes that whatever I write is going to include drama, adventure, romance, humor and suspense. That would be true whether I was writing westerns or science fiction. That said, I am very fond of historical fiction, spy thrillers, madcap reporters on the loose, Noir detectives, political thrillers and fact-based science fiction. I guess what that suggests is that I prefer fiction based in the tangible.
6. What, to you, is the most exciting part of the writing process?
GTC: Inspiration on the fly. I love when characters come alive in my head and start writing themselves. There’s always a couple that become much more than I had originally intended, and similarly, a few who were never planned that are born out of new, better directions the plot takes as I get further along.
7. If you could co-author a book with anyone, who would you choose and why?
GTC: J. Michael Straczynski. Babylon 5 was an amazing journey. The man wrote nearly every script over the five-year run of the show. I appreciate what he does and I think our sense of storytelling is simpatico.
8. Thanks so much for being my guest.
GTC: My pleasure! Thanks so much for having me over.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
After years as a journalist and magazine editor, George T. Chronis decided to return to his lifelong passion, storytelling. A lover of both 1930s cinema and world history, Chronis is now devoted to bringing life to the mid-20th Century fictional narratives that have been in his thoughts for years. Sudetenland is his first novel. Taking place during turbulent times in Central Europe during the 1930s, the book took eight years to research and write. The author is already hard at work on his second novel.
Chronis is married with two daughters, and lives with his wife in a Southern California mountain community.
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