Romeo Spies Project from the Cold War is mentioned in the podcast that I listen to covering Occupied- the Original Netflix Series. It has me intrigued, I set off to the Internet to find out more information and come across an article in The Guardian which unfolds the typical scenario of the Stasi Spy from an East Germany project. The basic idea is that a Stasi Spy romances a woman that might work in a high up office within the American Embassy and he plies her for information that will help the communist cause. Just such a situation played itself out in real life between Gabriele Kliem and Frank Dietzel. They were engaged for 7 years; in 1991 she was arrested for espionage. Only then did she learn that her fiancé was already married and was an East German spy not the physicist he had claimed to be.
It occurs to me reading this article that this is likely the basis behind a character and relationship development I follow on the fictional serial: The Americans on FX.
And it excites me. This idea of taking viable scenarios from real history and folding them into my own novel. My five year project is in full swing. I suggest five years to take off the pressure. After all, this is my first novel. I was originally saying 1-3 years. And, that grew to 5 recently as I read articles about first time novelists and all the work that goes into the process. And, as I experience that process first hand.
So many layers of my novel require a ton of research, for which I am completely energized. I want to get my hands on as much material as I can to flesh out the various paths, characters and goals.
There is the main character that grows up on a farm in Southern Norway that raises the special Spaelsau Sheep. My character matures and ends up moving to the big city as she follows a blossoming romance with a genius violinist. This guy is narcissistic and temperamental, but my character does not see or acknowledge this through her rose colored glasses. And, in the end, she marries him. In the big city, she works at a Tapestry Factory. All of this occurs just before the Nazi occupation which begins around April 1940. Pursuant to the occupation, my main character becomes involved in the underground, without her husband’s knowledge. He in the meantime becomes involved in the Quisling Regime, unbeknownst to her- at least initially. So much to research. Farms. Sheep. Woolen Mills. Fiber. Tapestry. Oslo, Norway during the 1930s and 1940s. Classical music, particularly Scandinavian and European composers. Professional orchestras in Norway, their schedule and how they are affected during the war. The violin. The occupation and WW II history in general. The Quisling Regime. The underground movement in Norway.
I gather ideas, materials, research. I develop characters based on my findings. It’s a huge project and one that occupies my mind most days. It’s an exciting wave and a dream. And I relish each moment.