January #RRBC Spotlight Author – Mary Adler

It is my privilege and pleasure to help shine the spotlight on an incredibly supportive RRBC and RWISA author, Mary Adler. Today, she shares her thoughts on telling stories about real characters who lived and died. I’ll let her explain.

TELLING THEIR STORIES

When I am bogged down writing, when I can’t think of any words, let alone the right words—whatever they may be—I persist no matter how much I would like to quit. The driving force that propels me to sit in the chair day after day, to hit the keys even when I know I will scrap the hard-won scenes, is my need to bring to life the reality of forgotten people.

Don’t get me wrong. My first purpose when writing a mystery is to entertain, to surprise, to take the reader on a trip to another time and place and community. But the reason I write the Oliver Wright series is because I want my readers to know what it was really like to live in America during World War II, to hear the stories of the people who lived then.   

When I was full of doubt while writing my first Oliver Wright and Harley mystery, my friend Steve, who is psychic, encouraged me.  For more than one good and sufficient reason I believe he truly does communicate with the other side.  (But that is a story for another time.) He told me that they wanted me to tell their story. 

I assumed my relatives, Italians who had been discriminated during World War II, were clamoring to have their story told, but I was wrong.

Steve told me he saw a group of soldiers holding rifles, some standing, some kneeling.  It was the soldiers who wanted me to tell their story, to try to make people understand what it was like to surrounded by death, to watch their friends die day after day after day, and not have time to mourn.

Steve’s vision prompted me to write this passage in In the Shadow of Lies.

Oliver, a homicide detective on medical leave from the Marines, is back home and remembering what happened on Guam.

I was back in Pt. Richmond, but Guam was only as far away as the next night’s sleep. It wasn’t the memory of fighting, of being wounded, that tortured me. It was the memory of walking away from the endless graves, from the rifles stuck bayonet-down in freshly turned dirt. My men had buried too many friends, friends who had died beside them, sometimes quickly, sometimes so slowly they had begged their buddies to finish them off.

            Then the living had moved on­­­­—on to more killing. The war allowed no time to mourn, to grieve, to honor the death of a man they might have loved as deeply as they would ever love anyone. They moved on, they fought, they buried more men, they moved on — and no one could see they were drowning in unshed tears. 

            I had hidden my face when the hospital plane taxied down the runway on Guam. The medics expected me to be grateful that I was leaving the fighting, but grief filled my heart. I was leaving behind friends willing to sacrifice their own lives for each other and for their dogs. It was why they fought. Forget the pretty speeches about preserving democracy and freedom—they died for each other, killing and being killed to end the endless killing.

I can’t know if I have honored the soldiers in my friend’s vision in the way they wanted, but I believe they sent Oliver’s thoughts to me to share with my readers. I did my best.

Follow Mary online:

Twitter – @MAAdlerwrites

Facebook – https://maryadlerwrites.com/

Author Bio:

Mary Adler was an attorney and dean at CWRU School of Medicine. She escaped the ivory tower for the much gentler world of World War II and the adventures of homicide detective Oliver Wright and his German shepherd, Harley. She lives with her family in Sebastopol, California, where she creates garden habitats for birds and bees and butterflies. She is active in dog rescue and does canine scent work with her brilliant dogs — the brains of the team — and loves all things Italian.

58 thoughts on “January #RRBC Spotlight Author – Mary Adler

  1. Jan, thank you so much for introducing Mary Adler here on your blog. I’m fascinated to learn about her book and her reasons for writing it: ‘my need to bring to life the reality of forgotten people’. At a book event the other day we were taking about the amazing stories within us all, how few are given a voice to theirs … I love how Mary is doing just that! I’ll definitely go and look at her book closer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I couldn’t agree more, Annika. So many people pass through their earthly journey without leaving behind their story. It’s authors like Mary who they can channel through. I appreciate you stopping by and leaving a comment and Mary will be thrilled to hear of your interest in her book!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Jan, thank you for hosting me on your amazing blog. You are one of those people who tell beautiful stories based on real peoples’ experiences and we are grateful that you do. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Thank you for your comment, Annika. I think those of us writers who set our books in the past are particularly grateful for those people who leave their stories behind for us, either in the form of memoir or autobiography. Many of the details that give my books texture are taken from contemporary accounts of World War II. The Bancroft Library here in Berkeley has a collection of memoirs of people who lived in the Bay Area during the war. I am so grateful for the people who created the project of finding people who lived then and recording their stories.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Mary, I’ve never thought of using memoirs left to libraries … that is a brilliant idea and a fantastic resource. I know our local library has a similar project with short accounts by various members of the community through the ages. My father-in-law was asked to contribute and helped him with this. Lovely to meet you, Mary and best of luck with your book and writing.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations, Mary. I love your distinction between purpose and reason. I’ve not heard it explained that way before, but I identify with your response. I look forward to reading more and to hearing more about Steve. All the best to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for dropping by today, Gwen, and leaving a comment. The fact that Steve needed his story to be told and that Mary became the conduit is a beautiful partnership!

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    2. Thank you, Gwen. As you know, I live in California where surely more things are possible than dreamt of in Horatio’s philosophy. 🙂 I do believe there is some universal place, perhaps the collective unconscious, where gifted people can retrieve memories and ideas. Maybe one day I will do a post about some of the things Steve has “read.” I am quite skeptical usually but have complete confidence in him. Thank you for your good wishes and support.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Mark. I wish i could write a book about the total reality of war and its effects on us, animals, the environment, future generations. I don’t think our minds could comprehend the complete devastation that results from the violence. I think we have to take it in bits. Even one book telling one person’s story has overwhelmed me.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Such a powerful excerpt! My father was a WWII vet, though he would not talk about the war. With good reason, I’m sure.
    This sounds like an intriguing book. I wish Mary all the best.
    Thanks for sharing, Jan!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the good wishes, Mae Clair. My father would start to tell us a story about the war but part way through I would realize he was making things up so the story was fantastical and not based at all in reality. My uncle and stepfather would not talk about it at all. The more I have researched, the more I understand why.

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    2. Thank you, Mae, for stopping by and leaving a comment. If your father left any journals, it could be full of story material. War is so devastating on every level and touches everyone in some way or another.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. He did leave one, Jan. It wasn’t a personal journal but a daily journal about the unit he was in. He self-published it in 1950 and gave a copy to every man in the company. I still have his original typewritten draft and also a copy that he published. I treasure both.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. A powerful post, Mary and Jan. I know well that feeling when a story demands a voice, even though I write completely fictional books. I can imagine that the pressure is even stronger when the stories capture real experiences in intense times. I can tell that you love and value what you do. Happy Writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura, thank you for your response to the passage. It does my heart good to hear you describe it as powerful. Thank you for supporting me and our other wonderful writers.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura, I believe that as a country we have no idea what we ask of the people who risk far more than their lives to protect us, and what it means to their families. I am so touched by your response. (You, as a writer, know that wonderful feeling you get when someone truly appreciates your words.) I admire you and your spouse and pray that you will both be kept safe from harm. Thank you.

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  5. Hi, Rhani. One of my favorite writing maxims is “You can edit everything except a blank page.” Another is “An author doesn’t have to get everything right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon.” 😉 Thank you for coming by.

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  6. Mary, thank you. This excerpt had me in tears. I have many friends that have served our country in times of war. The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder they are treated for is finally being recognized for the debilitating illness it is. They once called it ‘shell shock’ or battle fatigue. These men and women with shattered souls and tormented dreams and horrendous flashbacks are at last being recognized. I’m intrigued more with everything I read about your writing. Thank you for sharing Mary’s talent with us today, Jan.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was my pleasure to share Mary’s post today, Soooz. I am happy you stopped by and left a comment for Mary. You are so right about how debilitating PTSD can be and it is horrific to think about how many are affected. Wars are senseless. Men and women in power decide to start these wars, but it is the common citizen who actually has to go to the battlefront and fight because of their greed or political games. It angers me!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I firmly believe that the anger we feel so strongly can be made felt in any country with the freedom to vote for their own government leaders. There will never be a perfect leadership. Man’s own fallibility negates perfection. The power we have as writer’s hands us a valuable tool … we have the unique ability to spread the word to others highlighting their options and thereby assisting them to understand the significance of their ability to chose who leads them wisely. People power can never be underestimated. ❤️️

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Thank you, Soooz. I have friends who served in Vietnam who still are suffering because of the war. You describe them perfectly — shattered souls, tormented dreams and horrendous flashbacks. They also have serious medical issues traced back to exposure to chemicals used. It saddens me that the U.S. impedes their access to healthcare and other services after all they have given. It is shameful. (I still tear up when I read that section.)

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Marlena, thank you for your comment! Part of my pleasure at being in the Spotlight comes from resulting dialogue with other RRBC members. It is gratifying.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I loved that story, “Shadow of Lies”, and I do believe that the dead, especially those who lived memorable lives want their stories to be told. I’ve never looked at writing like that! It is worth exploring! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joy, you are a natural storyteller. When I read your books, I feel as if I could be sitting around a table being “told” a story. I think you, too, tell peoples’ stories, whether consciously or not. Thank you for coming by.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow Mary that gave me chills to think about soldiers wanting their story told and coming to you to do it. I do believe in that with a dose of skepticism mixed in with a few I’ve met. You just know when it’s right and I’m so glad you followed that and wrote about this. Great post and can’t wait to read the second book:) Thanks for hosting Jan!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am usually skeptical about people who hold themselves out as psychic, too. I’ve met three people who are truly gifted. One of them probably saved my husband’s life by insisting there was something wrong with his stomach — we thought it was “just” ulcers. It prompted me to be skeptical about his diagnosis and aggressive about finding out what was really going on. Another one is an animal communicator who told me things about my dogs she couldn’t possibly have known. One of the funniest things she told me was that our cat Cyril wanted a hamster. When I stopped laughing and asked why, she said he used to know one and they had long philosophical discussions which he missed. Cue laughter, again. If she isn’t psychic, she certainly can make up some funny stories. And then there is my friend Steve. Thank you for your comment, Denise. And for hosting me.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, Denise! Like Mary, I have encountered three psychics in my lifetime who were the “real deal.” i love that Mary’s soldier was able to get his wish to have his story told.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. What a touching story. War is so senseless to me. I just don’t get it and I never will. I love your stories Mary. I t makes you think. Thank you Jan for hosting.

    Liked by 1 person

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