I love reading and writing about the World Wars and the early 20th century. On Wings of starts with the 1914 Christmas Truce and is the story of two soldiers, Jochen who is German, and Aiden, a Brit.
The ebook is currently on sale on Amazon, and available through KU.
A chance meeting they never forgot.
Six years after meeting British soldier Aiden Foster during the Christmas Truce of 1914, Jochen Weber still finds himself thinking about Aiden, their shared conversation about literature, and Aiden’s beautiful singing voice. A visit to London gives Jochen the opportunity to search for Aiden, but he’s shocked at what he finds.
The uniform button Jochen gave him is the only thing Aiden has left of the past he’s lost. The war and its aftermath ripped everything away from him, including his family and his music. When Jochen reappears in his life, Aiden enjoys their growing friendship but knows he has nothing to offer. Not anymore.
As they made their way over, men were already beginning to gather, soldiers from opposite sides sitting together, conversation dwindling to a respectful silence. A British chaplain stood in front of them, a Bible in his hand, a German beside him. Jochen recognised him, although he didn’t know his name. The young man was only a few years older than Jochen and was studying for the ministry—would he ever get the chance to complete those studies?
Jochen and Aiden found somewhere to sit a few rows back from the front and joined the company of men. The German spoke first. “Vater unser, der du bist im Himmel. Geheiligt werde dein Name.”
The British chaplain repeated the words in English. “Our Father who art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy Name.”
They then spoke a few words each, some from the Bible, the rest from their hearts. Their congregation was silent apart from a few quiet “amens.” Jochen saw a couple of men wipe tears away. He was close to it himself.
Finally the chaplain bowed his head in prayer. When he’d finished, he spoke quietly to the man who had come to stand next to him. It was Captain Williams. He nodded and looked over the crowd, his gaze fixing on Aiden.
Aiden must have guessed what Williams wanted. He inclined his head in response and then stood. Jochen glanced between the two men, confused. What did Williams expect Aiden to do?
“Aiden?” Jochen asked softly.
Aiden smiled at him and began to sing. “O Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining….” He lifted his head, his voice strong and clear, each note building on the last to create something truly beautiful, something angelic. Aiden’s eyes shone; his body swayed slightly in time with the music. He was the music.
His audience sat in awe. Jochen could feel the emotion rippling through the men around him, tangible, as though he could reach out and touch it. He felt something inside himself reach out, wanting to be a part of it, to be carried along the wave of pure music, to grab it and never let go.
Behind the Scenes
The Christmas Truce has always fascinated me, with its stories and images of men fighting on different sides of a war laying down their weapons and coming together to celebrate Christmas. As with all my historicals, I did a lot of research about the time period, and the truce in particular. Jochen and Aiden giving each other buttons was based on documented events of the time. Some of the research was chilling and horrible, especially what soldiers went through during the battles, and particularly at the Somme.
I was rehearsal pianist for an ANZAC musical theatre show, and a few others, several years ago, so it made sense to have Aiden a singer with a music hall, which was the forerunner to today’s musical theatre. The literature they discuss when they first meet were texts I studied during my degree.
Watch out for a cameo—which was supposed to be short and expanded into more than that—from Simon Hawthorne before The Sleepless City. He figured as he was already there, why invent a new character. So this story does double duty and is kind of bittersweet showing him and his partner at that time in the trenches.
I also enjoyed researching the early 1920s London when Aiden and Jochen meet up again. A couple of the characters in that part of the story will show up again in future books too.
Most of my books take part in a wider universe, so characters do show up in other stories, even if it’s a *cough* brief*cough* cameo.
Another chance to win… if you could go anywhere or anywhen for Christmas where/when would you choose and why.