The Spear of Destiny
by Paul McDermott~*~*~*~*~*~
Interview with Paul McDermott
Crystal: Today I have the pleasure of hosting Paul McDermott. Welcome Paul! I'm so excited to have you here today. Would you share a little bit about yourself with us today?
Paul: Hi, Crystal – thanks for inviting me! Word of warning: I use English as she is spoken on THIS side of The Pond, and that means my spellings, too! Looking ahead, that’s going to be a point at issue in Q.2 However …! I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t scribbling my thoughts on grubby bits of paper and my mother used to say I’d read the labels on sauce bottles if there was nothing else handy! My father used to get annoyed when he came home to find his 6-y-o son had (once again) completed the Crossword in that day’s local newspaper before he got the chance … As everyone knows (or OUGHT to know!), my home town LIVERPOOL is the Centre of the Known Universe. I spent most of my teaching career elsewhere, but came home eventually and got my first ‘proper job’ (writing) when I retired. Since then, I’ve never been so busy! :)
Crystal: Do you have a favorite scene you would like to share with us?
Paul: One scene early in “The Spear of Destiny” shows the ‘mindset’ of U-boat Captain Nollau. He has just witnessed SS officers murder fellow Germans. Nollau has been told that there must be “no witnesses”. Suddenly, his orders seem less objectionable.
The young Überlojtnant thought once more of the verbal orders which he had been given. Since the Admiral had departed in a powerful launch, Herbert had dissected his instructions, word by word, looking for some leeway, some opportunity to follow the letter of the law without observing each and every horrific detail. During the past hour what he had been told he must do had seemed both repulsive and dishonourable, but after witnessing the massacre of unsuspecting German lives, shot in the back without a chance to defend themselves, he now had a clear conscience. The Senior Commander of the German Navy had effectively told him that he would be able to choose how to act once he left this isolated wharf: but he had been very specific about the last thing Herbert was required to do before leaving …
Halfway from the bows to the con tower he suddenly dropped to one knee and took careful aim through the sights of a rocket launcher. At this range it was impossible to miss. Twin muzzles released the “ba-bam!” of two shells, which blew apart the two staff cars parked immobile on the jetty along with their occupants, four officers and two drivers. His orders had been quite specific: “There must be no witnesses…”
Herbert Nollau was certain he could smell roasting flesh, and realized that it was not a youthful memory of wildschwein, the culinary masterpiece of his native Bavaria
Crystal: Where did you come up with the idea for your latest release?
Paul: I lived and worked in Denmark for many years. I was honoured & privileged to meet some brave people who had been active in the Danish Resistance Movement and I wanted to tell their story, which is not well known.
Crystal: What are you currently working on?
Paul: My ‘insurance’ against writer block: I tend to have half a dozen plots ‘bubbling’ so I can “switch horse” if I run short of ideas. One current WiP is an attempt at the lyrics & music for a teenage rock opera…
Crystal: Do you have any special routine that you follow when you are writing?
Paul: Only a stubborn refusal to allow a day to pass when I don’t write something more original than a shopping list! I can go forever on a couple of gallons of industrial strength coffee – Lava Java and Kenyan Blue Mountain are preferred poison.
Crystal: Did you have to do a lot of research for this book or any other? If so do you have a fascinating fact that you have learned you would like to share with us?
Paul: The Spear of Destiny was a new departure for me. Although it’s based on real events in the closing days of WW2, and I had to make sure I had facts (names, dates etc.) accurate, I then laid a ‘drizzle’ of fantasy over it. The research was more extensive than I’d needed for my previous fiction work but it was satisfying. I’m working on a disaster scenario involving climate change due to global warming. This also required extensive research before I started ‘building’ the world I’m going to ‘destroy’ [evil laughter sounds & fades].
Crystal: Who are some of your favorite authors that you like to read?
Paul: I’m a local patriot. Liverpool has consistently produced some of the finest writers of literature and music, and I’d like to think I could ‘live with’ some of the best! I enjoy reading any thriller written by Tony Shumacher or Luca Veste, two talented local authors I’ve met several times. Frank Cottrell Boyce writes terrific children’s lit, but I never had the chance to meet the greatest of our war poets, Wilfred Owen. His poetry is just as relevant and moving today as it was when he wrote it in the trenches of the First World War.
Crystal: Is there a genre you haven't written that you would like to try?
Paul: Smut/Porn (even dressed up in a ‘posh frock’ and described as “Erotica” has never interested me. Someone told me recently that Westerns are making a comeback of sorts, and if I was going to venture outside my ‘comfortzZone’ I could be tempted, but I don’t feel I know enough about the Wild West to make a good job of it … unless, of course, I decide to set it in the Wild West of Wales and write about SHEEP rather than Cattle being rustled!!
Author Social Links:
My Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/paul.mcdermott.7737
Also: www.whimsicalproductions.com and www.thewriterschatroom.com
In 1945, U-boat Kapitän Herbert Nollau must deliver a weapon which will turn the war in Germany’s favour. His orders are delivered verbally. There will be no written records... and no witnesses.
Alone, far from home, hunted by the Danish Resistance and the might of the Allied Forces, he must obey either his final Orders…or the inner voice of his conscience.
The Spear of Destiny is available at:
Publisher’s website | Amazon | Smashwords
Überlojtnant Herbert Nollau stood with his Zeiss nightglasses glued to his eyes, impervious to the rain whipped across his cheeks by half a gale. This howled almost exactly at ninety degrees to the tide, which had just reached the full but had not yet begun its retreat. His command craft, U-534, sat uneasily at anchor, dipping at bow and stern in the current, yawing appreciably as frequent Force Ten gusts buffeted her broad flanks. Low, heavy rainclouds hunkered closer, seeming to settle on the upper branches of the natural pine forest which spread untamed, unculled, across the low hills of Schleswig-Holstein.
An identical pair of black Opel staff cars bracketed a canvas bodied Mercedes half-track transport wagon, all three vehicles picking their way carefully along an unmarked country road. The headlights were taped down to the size and shape of a feral cat's vertical slits, acknowledging the strict rules governing all traffic during the hours of darkness. The road to the harbour just outside Lübeck was neither tarmac’ed nor enhanced with any form of lighting. The drivers were obliged to steer cautiously around every twist, using the gears and brakes more frequently than the accelerator.
"Amateurs!" he thought to himself, as the three sets of headlights crawled slowly closer.
He blanked the thought as soon as it intruded on his consciousness, forcing himself back into State-approved Wehrmacht thinking, based on purely practical matters directly related to carrying out current instructions, with maximum efficiency, without question. He pulled the collar of his oilskins closer around his throat in a futile attempt to prevent the rain from seeping through, soaking his uniform. Raising his night glasses once more, he cursed the weather, the Wehrmacht and the world in general, feeling more exposed and vulnerable with every minute that passed as he waited for the convoy of lights to crawl closer, carrying the equipment which he had been ordered to collect. It bothered him that he was expected to set sail immediately, and await orders concerning his destination by radio once he had cleared the bay and entered Store Bælt: technically, that section of the North Sea was neutral Danish waters, and if he were to remain on the surface for any length of time in order to receive orders …
As the lights snaked around another pair of curves and began their final descent to the shoreline and the jetty where U534 was waiting, Herbert Nollau realized that he had on board a much more powerful sender/receiver than any other U-boat: in fact, not just one but two radios equipped with the Enigma cryptographic programme had been installed, ostensibly for testing. With a sudden jolt, the deceptively young-looking Überlojtnant realized that this technology was far more sophisticated than that which had previously been regarded as the best in the world: apart from being guaranteed unbreakable as a code, it could also send and receive radio signals without his craft needing to surface.
He shook his head to clear the worst of the pools which had formed in the upturned brim of his sou’wester and made his way down the ladder bolted to the side of the conning tower, aiming to be waiting on the quay before the three vehicles wheezed to a halt. His mechanic’s ear analysed and diagnosed a list of faults he could clearly identify from the laboured chugging of each engine. Furious at this indication of inefficiency, a corner of his mind decided that he would have had the senior officer responsible for each vehicle court-martialled, if the decision had been up to him. In spite of the horrors he had witnessed in three years of naval warfare, he shuddered. His orders, distasteful though they might be, were crystal clear …
Two gaunt, silent shadows slid with simultaneous choreography from the rear seat of each of the Opels: their sleek black trenchcoats almost touched the planks of the jetty, glistening in the starlight as if the officers wearing them had been marching for hours in the rain rather than just stepping out of a warm, dry car. Nollau fired off his most formal salute: the four SS-officers responded with a world-weary, bent-elbow half-salute and pointedly refrained from returning Nollau’s “Heil, Hitler!” One detached himself for a moment and gave a hand-signal to the driver of the canvas-sided truck. The driver immediately hammered his fist twice on the bulkhead behind his seat. Four soldiers appeared over the tailgate of the wagon and began to manoeuvre something long and heavy out of the cargo space.
Turning to face his command meant that Herbert Nollau had to turn his back on the four staff officers. Somehow he managed to do this with an insolence which stated quite clearly that, as far as he was concerned, they were barely worthy of his contempt.
He placed a small, shrill whistle to his lips and blew, one long (but not overloud) blast. Within ten seconds, the deck was populated by about twenty matelots, standing at ease, who somehow contrived to arrive from nowhere and in total silence. Close to the bows, and just for’ard of ’midships , cables were deployed from two small jib cranes. Within seconds, the submariner crew were on the jetty, taking the unidentified cargo from the shoulders of the four soldiers and hoisting it with ease onto the foredeck, thence by some lightningfast legerdemain out of sight below decks. The crew had followed, leaving Überlojtnant Nollau as the only member of the Senior Service still on the jetty. At a silent gesture from one of the anonymous black trenchcoats the four soldiers climbed back over the tailgate, into the truck. After about four attempts, the driver managed to coax the engine into life and began to back and fill, facing back the way he had come.
As he completed the manoeuvre and gunned the engine to set off up the hill, the four SS officers opened their trenchcoats to reveal the muzzles of rapid fire MP40 machine pistols. With one accord they raised their weapons and sent round after deadly round of ammunition into both the cab and the rear of the vehicle, holding the triggers steady. Before the hail of bullets ceased, the fuel tanks of the wagon exploded, sending flames soaring high into the night sky, setting small fires in the tree tops as they lost their intensity and curled back towards the ground.
Suddenly, Herbert Nollau’s orders seemed fractionally less dishonourable.
Having emptied their weapons, the four executioners appeared to have rediscovered some of their habitual swagger and pride. Crashing the butts of the now-empty weapons against the rough wooden planking of the jetty they raised their right arms to the fullest, and screamed: “Heil, Hitler!” as their heels crashed together in perfect unison.
Sick to his stomach at the pleasure his countrymen took from the callous murder of fellow Germans, it was all Herbert Nollau could do to raise his arm, bent-elbowed, in the less formal salute he would never under normal circumstances have accepted from others nor used himself.