An author friend once told me that God created people for one reason only – for authors to use as characters in books. My friend was exaggerating, he often did with a beer or two inside him, but in every instance of hyperbole rests an element of truth.
In Eagles, I borrowed often from friends and family. Two examples spring immediately to mind. Roland, the protagonist of Eagles, after losing his family in an air raid, lies about his age to join the army, as did an old friend of mine in real life under similar circumstances. Later, as a part of the British unit to take over Bergen-Belsen concentration camp from the retreating Germans, Roland is tasked with aiding the survivors. To this end, he uses an interpreter, a London-born sergeant who speaks German. When my father read Eagles, he remembered telling me of his time as a British-army interpreter at the camp, including a scene where a captured SS soldier, in perfect English, claimed that a translator was unnecessary. I had used the scene in the book, of course – it was too good to waste – with the fictional Roland erupting, just as my father’s commanding officer had done, and shouting at the captured SS officer to shut up “because I don’t want to hear my language coming out of your filthy Nazi mouth!” To the day he died, my father cautioned everyone to be careful what they said in front of me, in case it one day appeared in a book.
Friends and family aren’t the only ones to provide meat for a story’s skeleton. I have enough quirks and foibles of my own to flesh out a hundred characters. A diehard romanticism is one, and Roland is quick to fall in love, though not always wisely. An interest in gambling is another trait I passed on to Roland, from his days as a teenager in Kent placing shilling bets with an illegal bookmaker to playing high-stakes roulette in Monte Carlo, or risking millions in business ventures. Roland, I must admit, enjoys more luck than I ever did, but then I could dictate what happens with his games of chance while I could never influence my own in such a beneficial way.
Perhaps the character trait I admire most in Roland is his loathing of discrimination. His own father was a victim of it, shunned by his wealthy family after marrying a woman of a different faith, and Roland himself comes to feel its sting after falling in love with the daughter of a South-American diplomat, only to be rejected by her family for the very same reason. It is this hatred of bigotry that drives Roland in many areas of his life, none more so than in his yearning to heal the rift with his father’s family…
Eagles is the remarkable saga of a man who overcomes a series of setbacks to emerge triumphant. In Love. In business. And in family.
Get your copy of Lewis Orde’s Eagles HERE!