Where are you from? Hangman’s Hollow, Tennessee.
Tell us a bit about Angel With Steel Wings. It is a story of a woman in a man’s domain, set against the dynamics of World War II it is a can’t-miss scenario. Angels With Steel Wings paints a vivid picture of courageous pilots facing death in the air while struggling with love on the ground, and wraps it up in a unique twist that will challenge all you knew about the “Greatest Generation.” Steeped in history and framed by faith, this is a tale that takes readers into a world now all but forgotten, and lands in a place that touches the heart in a special way. To know how far we have come, we must understand where we started, and Angels With Steel Wings takes us back on a thrilling trip in time that informs as it entertains. I think this is one flight you won’t want to miss.
What did you think the first time you saw Major Harvey Applegate? I was surprised by his anger, then my anger billowed up inside, and regardless of his rank, I let him know exactly what I thought of him.
What was your second thought? He was the most attractive man I’d ever met, but also the most arrogant. I left still angry with [him] and was still angry that night when I met him for a blind date.
Did you feel it was love at first sight? Absolutely not!
What do you like most about Harvey? As an ace pilot myself, I had to admire the way he handled a plane. But he had a lot to learn about handling women.
How would you describe him? The third time I saw him with his motherless son totally wrecked my dislike. He was so tender with his handicapped son, and so thoughtful of me, though he was drained with overwork, lack of sleep, and stress from the war.
That is a touching description. How would Harvey describe you? He thought I was a troublemaker. My assignment was to keep him from closing our WASP program on his base. I discovered he wanted to end our program because his wife had been a WASP and she’d died test-flying a plane. He wanted to protect women. He thought men should fight wars, not women. His motivation was excellent, but he was wrong. I had to prove him wrong.
What made you choose test piloting as a career? The Army Air Corps offered my only escape from Hangman’s Hollow, where the women all married by age sixteen and had mothered three babies by age nineteen. [My] Pop’s junkyard barely made enough money for my three sisters and me to survive. I had no other way to leave the Hollow.
What is your biggest fear, Mandy? I feared the WASP program would close at Camp Davis, North Carolina, and I’d end up back in the Hollow. I have no fear gene, but an overabundance of risk genes. Nothing else scares me. I’ve been called fool-hardy and stubborn, but never fearful.
How do you relax? I enjoy sun bathing with my WASP friends behind the barracks, going to movies, and entertaining the male pilots at the USO Club. We WASPs help keep the male Fly Boys from being homesick and scared just before they deploy to the war zone.
Who is your favorite fictional character and why? Robert Jordan in Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom The Bells Toll. That movie was playing when Harvey took me on our first date to the picture show. I’d seen the movie before and spent my time eying Harvey when he didn’t know I was looking. The man was incredibly attractive. I found it increasingly difficult to keep focused on my mission.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received? You know what you want. Go for it.
Thanks so much, Mandy, for spending time with us. Now it's time to chat with Anne. What movies or books have had an impact on your career as a writer? Probably I’ve seen every WWII movie made. I admire courage and think the Greatest Generation exhibited more courage than any other generation in American history. My dad read every WWII book he could get his hands on while I was growing up. Each book he finished, I read. He never censored my reading.
What event in your private life were you able to bring to this story and how do you feel it impacted the novel? Probably my dad discouraged strongly my joining one of the armed forces. He didn’t think military was a fit career for me. So, I sublimated my desire into writing.
Tell us a bit about your publisher: how did you hear about them and what influenced your decision to submit to them? Elk Lake Publishing is a fairly new company and they do broad distribution. They also do publicity for the writer. I like some of their other authors. All good reason for me to accept them as my publishers.
What projects are you working on now? I just completed two Christmas novellas, A Christmas Belle and A Groom for Christmas which are now on Amazon. I have a novella for Barbour Publishing, The Marriage Broker and The Mortician, which I am completing. When the Barbour book is completed, I will work on the sequel to Angel, Spies Like Her, the second book in my WWII Women of Courage series, and then I’ll work on the second book of my Handcuffed In Texas detective/mystery series, after Holly Garden, PI, Red Is For Rookie.
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