Sunday, October 4, 2015

Special Guest Linda Bennett Pennell

I met Linda a year and a half ago, at the RWA conference in San Antonio. We were Soul Mate authors, and connected immediately. We attended a workshop on starting a group blog, which resonated with us. History Imagined is now celebrating its one-year anniversary. Caroline Warfield, our other partner on the group blog, was a guest here a month ago. Now it's Linda's turn. Please help me welcome her as she discusses her newest book, A Wild Rose Press release entitled Casablanca: Appointment At Dawn.

Tell me about your new release. 
Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn is set in 1943 during the weeks leading up to the First Allied Conference in Casablanca. It was at the conference that Roosevelt persuaded his Allied partners to set the policy of unconditional surrender of the Axis powers. During World War II, communications from both sides were intercepted and read. Even something as important as this conference could not be kept totally secret. The Germans knew that the conference was taking place, but the translator of the intercepted message made one critical error. He translated Casablanca, Spanish for white house, as White House, Washington, D.C. Imagine what might have happened if the error had been caught in time or had not been made in the first place! 

When I first decided to write a novel set in WWII, I began a love story between a ninety-day-wonder, as Army Air Corps pilots-in-training were known, and an army nurse. It was set in Hialeah, Florida at the now defunct training facility there. The story just wasn’t working for me. Another author, who had been a WWII pilot and with whom I was communicating, happened to mention a friend who had been stationed at Casablanca. The movie is one of my favs, so the leap in location was not difficult. My hero evolved into an OSS officer, while my nurse got transferred to the 8th Evacuation Hospital. Romance set among spies, double agents, and secret coded messages makes for much more exciting reading, no? 

Like so many authors of historical fiction, I like to play “what if” with events and facts. In writing Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn, that’s exactly what I did. By the way, I considered calling the book Unconditional Surrender. Might have made a nice double entendre, don’t you think? 

What one thing do you hope readers enjoy in the particular offering?
The setting is certainly exotic, but I hope that readers feel the excitement and danger of falling love during wartime against all common sense. I hope readers find Kurt and Sarah as irresistible and these lovers find one another. 
What do you have planned next? 
 My work-in-progress is set in Miami and Havana. It is told in dual historical and contemporary timelines, featuring Professor Liz Reams from Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel. This time, she is chasing information about the notorious Meyer Lansky, the "Mob’s Accountant" and a founding member of Murder Incorporated. It is romantic suspense. 


Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn
By Linda Bennett Pennell

Will seven days be enough time to save the Allied war effort and the girl he loves?

Casablanca, 1943: a viper’s nest of double agents and spies where OSS Officer Kurt Heinz finds his skill in covert operations pushed to the limit. Allied success in North Africa and the fate of the First Allied Conference—perhaps the outcome of the war—hang on Kurt’s next mission. The nature of his work makes relationships impossible. Nonetheless, he is increasingly torn between duty and the beautiful girl who desperately needs his protection and help.

Sarah Barrett, U.S. Army R.N., is finished with wartime romance. Determined to protect her recently broken heart, she throws all of her time and energy into caring for her patients, but when she is given a coded message by a mysterious dying civilian, she is sucked into a vortex of danger and intrigue that threatens her very survival. The one person who can help Sarah is Kurt, a man with too many secrets to be trusted.  

Buy links Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn:


“I’m Heinz. What do you want?”

“Oh. It’s you.”


“From the restaurant on New Year’s Eve.”

Kurt was silent for a moment, then it came back to
him. “I remember. Sarah, right? You’re the girl who refused to dance
with me.”

A red flush crawled from her throat onto the apples
of her cheeks. “Yes. I’m sorry if I was rude.”

“I’ve been cut dead before. I got over it.”

The girl’s eyes glittered. “I’m sure you did. Are
you going to keep me standing here on the doorstep for
everyone to see?”

“Why? I’m not expecting company. Would it be a

“It certainly might if the people who tore my
apartment apart followed me here.”

Kurt looked into her eyes with complete attention
for the first time since opening the door. Whatever had
happened to this girl, she looked terrified and angry.
Not a particularly good combination for the covert
activities he and Phelps were up to.

Kurt made a quick decision. He stepped back and
pulled the door wide while raising his voice. “You
better come inside and tell me why you think what
happened to your apartment has anything to do with

When they stepped into the living area, Phelps had
disappeared. Kurt gestured toward the sofa and the girl
sat down.

Propping himself on the sofa’s arm, he looked
down into her frightened eyes.

“Now tell me how I can help you, Miss, uh…”

“Barrett, Sarah. US Army. RN.”

“Well, Nurse Barrett, what can I do for you?”

The girl stuck her hand in her coat pocket and
whipped out a scrap of paper that she waved in his face.

“By telling me what’s on this paper and why it’s so
important that somebody took a knife to my furniture.”

As for my venture in writing, it has allowed me to reinvent myself. We humans are truly multifaceted creatures, but unfortunately we tend to sort and categorize each other into neat, easily understood packages that rarely reveal the whole person. Perhaps you, too, want to step out of the box in which you find yourself. I encourage you to look at the possibilities and imagine. Be filled with childlike wonder in your mental wanderings. Envision what might be, not simply what is. Let us never forget, all good fiction begins when someone says to her or himself, "Let's pretend." 

I reside in the Houston area with one sweet husband and one adorable German Shorthaired Pointer who is quite certain she’s a little girl.

Favorite quote regarding my professional passion:  "History is filled with the sound of silken slippers going downstairs and wooden shoes coming up." Voltaire  

Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel from Soul Mate Publishing
Confederado do Norte from Soul Mate Publishing
When War Came Home from Real Cypress Press (my books only)
Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn from The Wild Rose Press

Twitter:  @LindaPennell

Buy link for Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel:
Buy link for Confederado do Norte:
Buy ink for When War Came Home:
Buy link for Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn:  


  1. Thank you for hosting me, Becky!! I love working with you on History Imagined and I love what you you are doing here with your personal blog!

  2. Linda, I'm pleased to host you today. Here's hoping for many sales for your latest book, which I can't wait to read.