After venturing into different genres and different decades, I am returning to my first writing subject—The Second World War. Although my muse deserted me for a few months, she is back in full force, churning out scenes of combat, self-sacrifice, espionage, and romance. The venue is once again the Southwest Pacific Theater in the crucial middle months of 1942.
When I published my bestselling novel, HOLD BACK THE SUN (HBTS), I left several pieces of unfinished business in Java and Australia. My principal Dutch characters were in the hands of the Japanese conquerors. Having lost almost their entire strike force in the battles around Java, Allied naval forces were in disarray. Only in the Philippines, where General MacArthur’s Filipino-American Army still held out stubbornly on the Bataan Peninsula, had Japan’s forces been held in check.
My next novel, ENDURE THE CRUEL SUN (working title), begins about the time that HBTS concluded. Java has just fallen. Japanese forces seize islands north of Australia from the Allies. Steadily advancing eastward, a string of Japanese island air bases threatens to cut the essential shipping lanes between Pearl Harbor and Australia and New Zealand.
Having lost their Battle Fleet at Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Navy responds with their last ace-in-the-hole: the four aircraft carriers of the Pacific Fleet. Air strikes against Japan’s outlying island bases culminate with a raid on landings in progress in New Guinea. Heavily outnumbered in ships, the Americans have one tremendous advantage: Their newly-won ability to read JN25b, the principal Japanese naval code. The Coral Sea east of Australia becomes the pivotal battleground of the Pacific War. Jack Sewell, the destroyer officer from HBTS, is in the middle of the action.
Again, I am dealing with an international cast of characters. Besides Jack, Dutch officers Jan Dijker and Garrit Laterveer, are again in play. Nurse Christine van Zweden, Garrit’s fiancé, finds herself facing an impossible choice dictated by HBTS’s arch villain, Japanese Colonel Katsura Okuma. And across the globe in Germany, the Gestapo lusts to get its hands on Dijker, formerly the British Special Operations Executive’s key spy in Occupied Holland.
Jack Sewell’s new love interest is an American Navy nurse. Her adventures include being a surgical nurse in the jungle hospitals on Bataan, escaping to Corregidor just before Bataan surrenders, and then boarding a submarine to Australia on the night before Corregidor capitulates.
Warren Bell is an author of historical fiction. He spent 29 years as a US Naval Officer, and has traveled to most of the places in the world that he writes about. A long-time World War II-buff, his first two novels, Fall Eagle One and Hold Back the Sun are set during World War II. His third novel, Asphalt and Blood, follows the US Navy Seabees in Vietnam. His most recent novel, Snowflakes in July, was released on Kindle on September 15, 2015, and a paperback version will be following. For more about Warren Bell, visit his website at: wbellauthor.com or see him on twitter @wbellauthor.