Churchill and Silver: Behind the Scenes with ALLEGIANCE

Since I’m hard at work on “PENTON5,” I thought I’d do my Tuesday “Easter Egg” trivia day on the book that went by the poetic name of “PENTON4” for the longest time.

  1. THE TITLE. So “Penton4” was originally named DELIVERANCE, a title I’m still considering for the new one. The publisher, however, thought it was too heavily associated with the James Dickey novel and movie. So we played and played and played with names. ALLEGIANCE was my editor’s suggestion, and it fit the story, so we went with it. At that time, Veronica Roth’s ALLEGIANT hadn’t come out but when it did, we almost changed the name again. The thing we shoot for in a book title is that, when you type it in the search window in the book or Kindle store, yours is the first book to show up, or at least among the first books….a test that ALLEGIANCE, ironically, fails.

2. MATTHIAS LUDLAM. There are three ways I name characters–after a friend or family member, because a name just pops into my head unbidden, and (rarely) by using a book of names and what they mean. Matthias, of course, has been a major figure in the Penton series. His surname is that of my best friend. Her gggrandfather was named William Ludlam–Will was named for him. “Matthias” just came from the ether. I have no clue.

3. SILVER. So, silver has a lot more meaning in werewolf/shifter lore than it does vampires. But when I was looking for a substance that I could use to be a weakening agent for the vampires–not to kill them, but just to render their power down to human levels, I studied a lot of material on the “powers” associated with different metals and gemstones and kept coming back to silver. It’s a soft metal, so it lent itself to use not only in bullets, but silver-coated steel blades and even silver filament woven into rope. Useful thing, silver! In the opening scene of ALLEGIANCE, Matthias is stabbed with a silver blade. It wouldn’t kill him–vampires can heal almost anything–but he would heal almost humanly slow. Annoying, that.

4. THE WRITTEN CORNER. I really hadn’t thought through what it might mean in the long term if I had Melissa Calvert (both family names, by the way) strike up a relationship with Cage Reynolds (whose name fell from the sky) in book three, OMEGA. So when it came time to write ALLEGIANCE and I didn’t want Cage to break up Mark and Melissa’s marriage, I had to figure out a way to break them up. I had written myself into a corner. I struggled with that a lot when plotting out the book–how to resolve two relationships while still having it be Cage and Robin’s book. I’m not sure I completely succeeded, but at least I wrote my way out of that corner. Of course I also wrote my way into another corner I’m trying to figure out now in the final book…..

5. CAGE’S SECRET, the darkest part of his background, has to do with an article I read in BBC HISTORY magazine, one of several magazines I subscribe to as idea sources. In World War II, Winston Churchill had what’s been called “hunter troops” or ‘killer pirates.’ They were the SOE, a small group of operatives that infiltrated enemy territory and organizations, with a license to kill by any means and with no official identification to tie them back to England. About 99 percent of them died. Cage survived, but he suffered. And to avoid spoilers, that’s all I’ll say about that! If you want to read a little more about the SOE, you can do so here.

Any surprises there? Any questions you have about ALLEGIANCE or PENTON?


7 thoughts on “Churchill and Silver: Behind the Scenes with ALLEGIANCE

  1. I think the surprise for me is the writing yourself out of a corner. By the time we see the story your done with all that and we see the finished product. We assume you are brilliant and never wrote yourself into a corner in the first place.

  2. Churchill’s Killer Pirates! There is a book in there somewhere. Love that kind of stuff.

  3. For some reason, the comments aren’t showing up when I come to the page, but are coming to my email. I hate WordPress.

    Roger: This happens more often than I would like to admit! No corners were encountered in the first three Penton books because that three-book story arc had been planned out, but books four and the upcoming book five have been plan-as-you-go and that means….getting out of corners 🙂

    Susan: The SOE was really interesting. It’s thought it might have been the inspiration for James Bond/007 and his license to kill. But almost all of them died, either outright murdered or imprisoned and tortured. It was so secretive that only recently have any files been opened up so that identities were known! Since I’d established that Cage was turned vampires during WW2, it seemed like the perfect background for him.

  4. ……oh my! i saw a tv series about world war and there was a small passage on SOE but i didn’t think so many died….it sound so unfair since it was completly in the dark not even sure their family knew what had happened to them

    • Yes, they had to keep their families in the dark for safety reasons. Quite a few of those who were caught ended up in prisons and were tortured or starved. There was an infamous prison in occupied Paris (can’t remember the name offhand) where the torture was severe. That’s the one I had Cage be in until he was turned vampire by the man who was supposed to kill him. It’s interesting, but sad.