by Joanne Dobson and Beverle Graves Myers
Co-authors of Face of the Enemy
The winner of the free copy of FACE OF THE ENEMY is Nan. Congratulations! Thanks to everybody who left a comment.
|Beverle Graves Myers|
Everybody knows Rosie. She’s the poster babe for the women of World War II—the can-do factory worker in the red bandana who’s rolling up the sleeve of her blue overall to display a determined bicep. But, as we discovered in our research for Face of the Enemy, life wasn’t all Rosie the Riveter for our wartime grandmothers.
In Face of the Enemy, besides writing a page-turning mystery, we set out to highlight women's wartime experience in New York, America’s largest city. After decades of listening to family stories and watching the History Channel, we knew that it was largely women who created the homefront culture. From mundane efforts like saving grease and fat to be used in ammunition production, to bold, "unfeminine" initiatives such as taking lessons in commando training at the YWCA, women “did their bit” while men went off to combat.
Our characters move well beyond Rosie and those other stereotypes, the Betty Grable type pin-ups and the plucky girls drawing stocking seams up their legs with eyebrow pencil. Louise and Cabby, our series protagonists, fight the War at Home in their professional roles as nurse and New York Times journalist. So do other women at their Brooklyn boarding house and the women they will encounter as the New York in Wartime series unfolds. With the exodus of young men from the city, women were thrown into professional, social and personal roles that transformed their previously gender-determined lives in unexpected ways.
Have you heard of the OSS? The Office of Strategic Services? This early espionage agency maintained an apartment on the Upper West Side where women as well as men were trained to be saboteurs and spies. Graduates of the Seven Sisters, such as Smith and Vassar, were particularly in demand as trainees for overseas postings because of their European travel experience and foreign-language skills. Also because many of them were young and pretty, a decided advantage for a spy! At the end of the war, OSS functions were split between the State Department and the War Department, and some of the women went right along.
How about the Manhattan Project? This top-secret program dedicated to splitting the atom was so named because it began at New York’s Columbia University. At least 300 military and civilian women eventually participated in the effort, most in clerical or support positions. But a few highly trained female scientists were directly involved in the research effort. Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu, a Chinese scientist, became known as “The First Lady of Physics” for her work on nuclear fission. She and others truly opened the door for women to pursue scientific careers after the war.
Plenty of women did take up work on factory assembly lines, many employed outside the home for the first time ever, and some leaving small towns to relocate near the production sites. It wasn’t just airplanes and ships. The entire economy was on a war footing—lingerie producers turned to putting out parachutes and piano factories made long-distance radios. One issue that stood out for us: what happened to the workers’ children? Day care was almost unheard of and not every woman had a willing mother or aunt to watch the children. We were shocked to learn that it was common for older boys and girls to be parked at the movies, which ran all day and evening, and infants were sometimes left in the back seats of cars to sleep while their mothers held down the third shift. Thankfully, social service agencies eventually got up to speed.
Face of the Enemy takes an intelligent, well-informed, lively, sometimes even tragic, look at the dilemmas facing ordinary and, believe us, not-so-ordinary women on the homefront during the second World War. People whose paths would never have crossed otherwise were thrown together, and the resulting political conspiracies, class/ethnic dramas, and star-crossed romances are the very stuff of suspenseful, high-end murder mystery. We hope you enjoy it!
Joanne Dobson is the Agatha-nominated author of the Karen Pelletier series from Doubleday and Poisoned Pen Press. In 2001, the adult-readers division of the New York Library Association named her Noted Author of the Year, as the writer whose books they most enjoyed recommending. For many years, Joanne was an English professor at Fordham University. She now writes full-time and teaches writing at the Hudson Valley Writers Center in Sleepy Hollow, New York. Website: www.joannedobson.com
Beverle Graves Myers is the author of the Tito Amato Mysteries set in dazzling, decadent 18th-century Venice. Bev also writes short stories that have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and numerous other publications. Her work has been nominated for the Macavity, Derringer, and Kentucky Literary awards. A former psychiatrist, Bev now writes full-time. She and her husband live in Louisville, Kentucky. Website: www.beverlegravesmyers.com
Joanne and Bev are collaborating on the New York in Wartime series, which debuted in September 2012 with Face of the Enemy.
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