Today, Pauline Barclay has a special guest on Famous Five Plus, former member, Phillip Winberry who talks about his latest book and the amazing story that inspired him to write, Fallen From The Sky.
You come from the Pacific Northwest in the USA. What motivated you to set your latest novel, Falling From The Sky, in
I come from a lineage of English immigrants to
during the 1700s, perhaps earlier. As a
result, I’ve always been fascinated with English history and culture. In addition, I fell in love with America while working
there for almost two years (1979/80). During that time, I began many lifelong
friendships. So, when interest in my genealogy led me to an interesting late 18th
century tidbit in my paternal grandmother’s family history, I hit upon the idea
of creating an imaginary English family that would allow me to tell a highly fictionalized
version of what I envisioned that tidbit could have been. Readers interested in the morsel of
information that piqued my interest can use their favorite search engine to
explore the world of John Mobbs, a wealthy Englishman who died in 1791. He is believed to be my uncle six generations
removed. His will makes for intriguing
What an interesting backdrop to inspire you. Your latest novel, Falling From The Sky takes place during World War II. Is setting the story in this time-period important to the plot?
Not really, Pauline. The novel’s first draft, which I called The Pouch, was set at the end of the 20th Century, with substantial flashbacks to events that took place in the mid 18th Century. When finished the first draft, while I had a good story, it wasn’t one that told the tale I wanted to tell. At its core, it lacked soul. Many drafts followed, but it wasn’t until I changed the plot focus to a time and place that had always intrigued me, World War II and the role American B-17 bomber pilots played in that conflict, that I finally hit upon a premise and characters that allowed me to get the words down on the page to make my vision sing.
Now I am more intrigued. What compels you to write mystery and suspense stories that have readers sitting on the edge of their seats?
Mystery and suspense stories make up the vast majority of the books I read. I enjoy the genre and take pleasure in creating stories for the entertainment of others.
Tell us a little about Falling From The Sky?
Falling From The Sky is a tale of heroism and a tribute to the American bomber pilots who served unflinchingly at a time of crisis and peril by flying daytime bombing missions over
during the war. Those incredible young
men and their crews were heroically brave in the face of extremely long
survival odds. Despite massive losses of
life and property, all who took to the sky played a major role in defeating the
German enemy. It also is a story of
romance and exploration of family conflict as well as, in the words of one
Amazon reviewer, “a tapestry woven from the strands of Downton Abbey like
opulence . . . a mystery with evil/deceit/uncertainty/ and greed.” It was great fun weaving all those stands
together to create the final saga.
Having read your first novel, Reno Splits, which was a gripping thriller, can you tell us if a book three is being penned?
Of course there is. A writer’s work is never done. My next effort is another mystery, this time set on a small island in the middle of
Sound. The book’s title
tentatively is Foxglove. I’m still toying with the plot and trying to
decide the appropriate time-period to make the story work. I find myself quite comfortable writing
stories set in the 1940s so that probably is where the narrative will land.
What about you, Phil? Tell us a little about you and what made you turn your hand to writing.
I am a lawyer by training, retired after a four-decade-long career. Around the time I walked away from the practice, my interest in my family genealogy led me to John Mobbs’ story. From that point I realized I would like to create a novel drawing on some aspects of his tale. After all, I knew how to write. I’d done it my entire career. Was I ever wrong! Oh, sure, I could write—like a lawyer. But like a novelist? That was something I had to learn—and I’m still learning.
Most of my retirement years have been spent on Whidbey Island, located at the top of
Sound. My wife and I live
with our beloved Weimaraner on a bluff overlooking the Sound’s shipping lanes
and the majestic snow-capped Olympic Mountains. Sometime in the next year, though, we’ll be
leaving the island to move back to
to be closer to our kids. But wherever
we land, you’ll always be able to find me at the keyboard spinning my next
Phillip, a HUGE thank you from me for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat about you and your latest book. I’ll leave you to enjoy the wine, whilst I go and download a copy of Falling From The Sky.
A PEEK INSIDE THE COVER
When American B-17 pilot Alex Kent isn’t struggling to survive World War II bombing raids in the skies over
time trying to unravel a conundrum with even greater dangers: uncovering the lost legacy of William Kent,
his great-grandfather seven generations removed. Alex knows nothing about his ancestor’s life
prior to William’s arrival in 1740 colonial Virginia as an eleven-year-old
indentured servant although Kent family folklore suggests William might have
been the exiled child of an English noble.
Over the generations, several Germany family members have tried to confirm
that speculation. None succeeded. Some died trying. Kent
On leave in war torn
, Alex meets Sarah Perkins, fiancée of
the Duke of Wyeford’s only son. Alex and
Sarah soon realize they are attracted to one another and she volunteers to help
in his pursuit of William’s heritage. London
When the Duke of Wyeford becomes aware of Alex’s quest, he understands the American pilot poses a threat to the conspiracy of silence concocted two hundred years earlier to deny young William his legitimate birthright. Exposure of the conspiracy would topple the Wyeford dynasty, stripping the duke of his title and wealth. He vows to take whatever actions are necessary to see that never happens. Danger and tension escalate as Alex’s search barrels toward a shocking conclusion.