FOR INTRIGUE THAT KEEPS YOU GUESSING
Media Kit for Bonnie Toews
As Bonnie’s career as a novelist develops, you will find an assortment of information including a short bio, author brand, summary of her Trilogy of Treason and first book in the set to be published, ready-to-go press releases for Book One in the series, quotes from previous interviews, endorsements, links to a promotional trailer and her blogs, and talking points about issues covered in her novels. There are also links to downloadable images for both electronic and print media.
For hi-res photo, please email request and enter AUTHOR’S PHOTO on subject line.
AUTHOR BRAND: At the crossroads of humanity
My novels involve readers in atrocities the victims can never forget. I am not exploiting horror for horrors sake. What I especially want to show to young readers, who play interactive video games that leave them desensitized to the consequences of violence and mayhem, is that war is not some romantic, adventurous game. I believe a staggering number of Canadian, American and other Coalition troops returning from the “war on terror” as well as journalists and peace workers for non-government organizations suffer from post traumatic stress disorder because they are unprepared to deal emotionally with the horrors they witness and experience. We – their parents, teachers and trainers – have not conscientiously prepared them to deal with the world outside their own domain. Instead, we have removed history from their curriculum and avoided the unseemly in busy silence. We have made our young people victims alongside those they are trying to save.
What I have observed at the crossroads of humanity is that victims of atrocities can never forget what they have endured, and their resulting bitterness perpetuates revenge. This convinces me as long as victim and perpetrator seek retribution against the other, true peace can never be achieved.
But there is an answer: the ACT of FORGIVENESS. We understand the idea of God’s forgiveness, for that is a given, but the act of forgiveness becomes meaningless if we cannot first forgive ourselves and then one another. To make a difference in world peace, victims and their perpetrators must forgive themselves before they can forgive one another and live in harmony.
The Model for a Working Peace
I did see something in Rwanda in 1994 that has never left me and only recently have I come to understand what the significance of that was. Not all victims of the genocide, despite the horrors and tragedies they experienced, became cynical and distrusting. In general, I saw an amazing innocence and gentleness prevailing among them. Today, victims and murderers work side by side to farm the land. They are no longer Tutsi and Hutu. They are Rwandans, but as much as we would like to see Rwanda as the world’s model for a working peace, recent investigations indicate that the ruling leader, Paul Kagame, has created a “benevolent” dictatorship for those who obey him, and oppressive tyranny for those who dissent. The newest UN report accuses his troops of mass murder in the Congo. Rwanda under Kagame has emerged from a crushing genocide to build a nation of productive people who have discovered their true self-worth. Kagame’s Rwanda is one of the best-managed countries in Africa today, but as ambition has warped past African leaders, Kagame appears to be abandoning a true democratic model and leading his country into a new era of autocratic control. A true model for a working peace between enemies still eludes us.
This is what my stories are about… the true power of forgiveness and our struggle to achieve it.
Gayle Lynds, once a co-author with Robert Ludlum and now best-selling author of spy thrillers such as THE LAST SPYMASTER and THE BOOK OF SPIES, hails The Consummate Traitor as “riveting. This novel explores in-depth the tragedy of the secret war, the far-reaching consequences of individual acts and the lives they affect. Above all, it vividly brings to life Hitler’s Third Reich by creating a moving journey of the human spirit transcending evil.”
“Compelling, disturbing and brutally honest with razor-sharp insights into the soul of a spy.” Vicki Hinze, award-winning author of ACTS OF HONOR and LADY LIBERTY, and her recent Christian suspense novel, FORGET ME NOTS.
“Historical fiction at its best. Be prepared to shed several buckets of tears.”Top GunRobert Gandt, best-selling author of the Brad Maxwell series of military thrillers.
“The reader will discover that there is no greater love than for a man, or woman, to lay his or her life down for a friend.” Rita Gerlach, acclaimed Abingdon Press author for her Historical Romance SURRENDER THE WIND.
Talking Points explored in Bonnie’s novels
- Secret codes embedded and transmitted in music
- The Holocaust or the Rwandan genocide and the impact such atrocities have on the world
- Total war and scorched earth policies that desecrate future generations
- The devastating effect of the anti-malaria drug— Mefloquine or by its brand name Larium—on our military forces
- The power of forgiveness needed to create working models of peace
Overview of the Trilogy of Treason
My vision is to write about heroines who overcome betrayal and perilous odds to find lasting love in 20th Century stories that explore the covert world of espionage and political intrigue found in wartime settings.Each story in the trilogy involves readers in atrocities the victims can never forget.Each novel can stand alone, yet the main characters including the arch villain established in Book One continue their lives through the trilogy. Book One: The Consummate Traitor “Service before Self”A fictional disclosure of Churchill’s race with Hitler to develop the first atomic bomb in WWII when one woman’s secret mission is betrayed and her best friend is sacrificed to replace her at the final rendezvous with the Resistance. Features Lee Talbot, her daughter Kendra Talbot, Lady Grace Radcliffe, Morgan Saunders, Eric von Lohren and Ludwig Ketmann.
Book Two: Covert Denial “Truth before Service”
In the blood-soaked hills of Rwanda, the secret lies of a broadcaster’s parents set her in the crosshairs of an assassin as she investigates an experimental anti-malarial drug issued to UN peacekeepers during their Rwandan mission in 1994. Features Kendra Warren, Lady Grace Radcliffe, Eric von Lohren, Lee Talbot, Morgan Saunders and Ludwig Ketmann. through the two sequels.
Book Three: The Odonata Ring “Justice and Forgiveness”
This novel traces the betrayal of Russian Mennonites at the end of the Second World War during an American investigative journalist’s hunt for former Nazi war criminals implanted by the CIA in positions of NATO power during the Cold War. Features Lee Talbot, Morgan Saunders and Ludwig Ketmann.
Each novel develops a love story within the context of intrigue and suspense.
Quotes from previous interviews
Do you prefer to have an entire outline, plot, etc. mapped out before you put a pen to paper, or is it something that unfolds as it happens and takes you places you hadn’t expected?
When I began writing fiction, I had no idea where the story was going. Three quarters of the way to the finish, I still didn’t know who the traitor was going to be. One night, I woke up at four o’clock in the morning and saw the end. Then I couldn’t write fast enough to get there. I wrote my first story outline when I had to submit a query to a publisher. For me, I think it was a trick of my subconscious. If I had known the end at the beginning, I don’t know if I would have had the perseverance to keep going to the last line because writing can be a grueling exercise. Now that I’ve worked through my first novel and have come to love the process, there are shapes of new stories forming in my head, but again, the focus is on the central characters and the directions their lives take. I’ve always enjoyed suspense novels, so mystery and suspense will be consistent elements in future books.
There’s one piece of advice I would like to pass on to other writers tackling their first novel. Colleen Dimson, a book editor who helped me understand how to structure a novel, advised me to read Vladmir Nabokov’s Lectures on Literature. I’ll always be sorry that I didn’t have a chance to attend his classes, for he instills a tremendous love for literature in the reader and the writer with his inspiring treatment of critical analysis.
Your book was especially interesting because of the era you chose – World War Two – and the obvious research that went into it. What made you choose WW II and the Nazi influence in Europe as a theme?
In my earliest memory, I recall my mother and babysitter talking about the rationing of butter, and my favorite uncle was a fighter pilot. Two of my music teachers were also involved. One fought with the Dutch Resistance, and the other was an actual spy posing as a church organist in Berlin throughout the war. They were such humble people it was difficult imagining them as secret operatives capable of killing anyone if they had to. Their stories are not depicted in my novel, but the use of music in the secret operations plays a big part as well as the essence of my teachers’ wonderful character and faith.
At ages nine and ten, I loved reading the Cherry Ames books, about WWII combat nurses, and the Borneo books, about Second World War fighter and bomber pilots. These books always solved mysteries. Why I gravitated to them more than any other, I don’t know, but suspense and military thrillers are still my favorite reads and why I began writing in the genre. In fact, I wrote my first novel at age ten about an army nurse in the Pacfic.
Years later, when I read Leon Uris’ “Mila 18,” which describes the death camps in graphic detail, I felt such an affinity with the Jewish soul and the horrors the Jews suffered through the Holocaust that I wondered if I had once lived as one before my present life. In my twenties, I studied Jewish history, culture and religion to try to discover why the Jewish people have been so persecuted and scapegoated over the centuries. I did gain insights from my studies and a deep abiding respect for their religious concepts.
I was equally fascinated with mob psychology and what drove the German people to embrace and follow a mad man like Hitler with such blind faith. Studying history provided those answers, and it alarms me today that our education systems do not emphasize the study of history. Without knowing our pasts, we are vulnerable to making the same mistakes again, and that’s exactly what is happening now. Today’s United Nations is making the same mistakes its predecessor, the League of Nations, made in the 30s, and the results are frightening. If people don’t understand history, they can’t understand the decisions their leaders make, and they can’t respond with knowledge to those decisions. The terrorists’ attacks of 9/11 reignited our nations’ patriotism, but we still have to guard against blind loyalty based on manipulative propaganda.
It’s interesting how you use Churchill as an almost incidental player in the plot. Many writers would be hesitant to even try. Tell us your reasoning for utilizing Churchill as you did.
Churchill was part of what really happened in the true events related to the story. He did sponsor such an operation. He did back the secret civilian agency called Special Operations Executive (SOE) and his master spy, “Intrepid,” director of the British Security Coordination. He was as ruthless as either Hitler or Stalin in his strategies to beat them, such as exposing villagers and citizens in Nazi-occupied territories to terrible reprisals just to unify the local people into secret resistance. He believed the formation of a fifth column was necessary to winning against the Third Reich. I was also intrigued with his style of speech – the rhythm and choice of words – which William L. Shirer notes in his “The Nightmare Years 1930-1940.” Churchill rarely came out and said directly what he wanted. He used words in euphemisms, similar to Hitler actually, like planted seeds for others to interpret. Perhaps the “buzz” words both men invented were to allay their guilt for the brutal and tragic orders they issued.
I also wanted the reader to see the man behind the British hero so many admire. We may never be able to criticize that what he did he did because it was necessary to win the war against such a sadistic enemy, but we don’t have to like it, or respect it, or be mesmerized by his bulldog image. He was a bully fighting bullies.
Writing a book can be daunting, and getting one published even more difficult than the writing itself. Are there any words of wisdom you can share with our readers on the subject of writing?
Faith, patience, perseverance and skill. Learn to use the best writing techniques you can. Never give up on your dream. There is no truly original story. What is unique is each author’s way of putting a story together. In writing, there are no shortcuts. Writers who do not want to spend time authenticating details used in their imaginary plots cannot suspend their readers’ disbelief. The first “error” readers see turns them off and makes them suspect the rest of the story. If you read through book reviews at Amazon.com, for instance, this is the biggest complaint of readers and the most prominent reason for giving a book a poor rating. It is also the most immediate reason to be rejected by agents and publishers, who are first and foremost the biggest fans of the authors they sign.