University of Zurich Library
When I was a young man just beginning my working life, my father warned me, “Never mix business with pleasure.” What he was talking about in the culture of 1950s South Arkansas was not to begin romantic entanglements with women at work. Although I think that Dad’s words are still good advice, I realize that the majority of romantic pairings in America today begin in the workplace. However, in the sense of having fun and moving forward one’s career simultaneously, it is possible to mix business with pleasure.
I am blogging today from beautiful Zurich, Switzerland, where my wife and I are on a tourist trip. Switzerland is a wonderful place to be. The scenic beauty is spectacular; the cities are clean and attractive; public transportation is efficient and plentiful. But most wonderful of all are the Swiss people. They are extremely courteous and friendly. Many go out of their way to help obviously puzzled tourists find their way around. And very important for many of us, they all speak excellent English; they are also very tolerant of Americans who speak only English. The Swiss make visiting their country a great pleasure.
For a historical novelist who writes mostly about World War II, Switzerland is also a treasure trove of information and descriptive background. Zurich was the headquarters of Allen Dulles and a major office of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the precursor to the CIA. From here, spies were dispatched and ran all over Nazi-occupied Europe. It was at the University of Zurich’s technical university that an OSS agent sat in on a lecture by Werner Heisenberg, head of Germany’s nuclear program, in December of 1944. If the agent determined that production of a German atomic bomb was imminent, he had the authority to shoot Heisenberg on the spot. With all thier actions potentially useful in future novels, my tourist visit has also become a research expedition.
For years I have been cataloging details about countries and cities I visit for possible future use in my writing. Taking lots of photographs of sites I may later use in my writing allows first-hand knowledge of how to write descriptive prose about these places. My favorite saying from the WWII German Field Marshal Rommel is, “Nothing is as important as going and seeing for yourself.”
So it is possible and profitable to mix business and pleasure after all.
Note: Warren Bell's debut novel, Fall Eagle One, detailing a fictitious but plausible assassination attempt on FDR during World War II, (Semi-Finalist in the Kindle Indie Book Review Best Books of 2012) is available for Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.com. His newest novel, Hold Back the Sun, has been released for Kindle in advance of the printed book launch on October 25, 2013. This new historical-fiction thriller, set in the Pacific, follows the US Asiatic Fleet in their battle with the Japanese in WWII.