Retired Air Force Colonel Elwyn J. (Stub) Warfle has been writing war stories for years. He finally decided to put them all together in a book titled “One Lucky Bastard.”
Essie Temple Backus had a story in the back of her mind for years. It took her over three years but she finally completed her first book, “The Intensity of God.”
Wendy Coakley-Thompson took the events surrounding the racial murder of Yusuf Hawkins in 1989 in Brooklyn, and wrote “Back to Life,” a story about love, racial politics and interpersonal conflicts.
IN “ONE LUCKY BASTARD,” Warfle recalls how he survived two combat tours as a World War II bombardier. Given the fact that so many of his comrades did not survive, he truly believes that he is lucky to be alive.
Warfle details not only his experiences with the 447th Bombardment Group, but provides information about the “Missing Eighteen” — crews comprised of 180 individuals who traveled by boat to England.
Warfle writes, “Since their names weren’t listed on deployment flight orders, their existence and identities were missed by historians. I felt within me a compelling desire to search out, and to identify those 180 individuals, and if possible, learn of their fate.”
He had already compiled much of the information, what was missing was the stories. Warfle decided to put it all together.
In what is a very comprehensive accounting, Warfle includes information about every one of the 180 members, indicating whether they were KIA (Killed in Action), MIA (Missing in Action), POW, completed tour, or Fate Unknown.
The response thus far is encouraging. One reader said, “We found more information on our loved ones in this book than we received from the government in 45 years.
When asked if writing the book was emotional for him, Warfle said, “At times it gets a hold of me. I have an emotional reaction when I visit the old airfield in England.”
The old bomber base was the site for a reunion back in 1999. “The return visits to Rattlesden airfield, together with memorial ceremonies at the Cambridge-American cemetery where many of my flight mates and war buddies are interred, brought back memories long since dimmed by the passing of time.”
This reunion was the real impetus for Warfle to proceed on his book. He felt that the published history about the 447th Bombardment Group omitted or skimmed over the contributions of many of the individuals who served in the war.
“I’m very pleased that it’s over. I just hope people enjoy reading the book as much as I enjoyed writing it,” said Warfle.
“One Lucky Bastard” can be ordered by sending a check for $29.95 to Mount Vernon Publishing, P.O. Box 127, Mount Vernon, Va. 22121.
ESSIE TEMPLE BACKUS has seen some pain in her life, yet she still believes in the good of mankind. In “Intensity of God,” we find a 71-year-old nurse practitioner, Elsa. She lives alone in the mountains of West Virginia, far away from the abuse she endured earlier in her life. She is content to be on her own, yet a series of events will throw her into the midst of a true love, a terrorist plot and a move to Russia.
It all begins one winter day when she takes her six-year-old malamute, Lara, on a hunt for princess pine in the nearby forests. After searching one particular area, Elsa decided to continue eastward, even though it was beginning to snow. She was used to the weather in these mountains and was prepared.
What she wasn’t prepared for was the crash and explosion of a van deep in the woods off Skyline Drive. It wasn’t long before she realized that she had happened upon the attempted assassination of Russian president Nikolas Belanov. Unbeknownst to the terrorists, he had escaped from the van before it exploded and was rescued by Elsa.
Severely injured after days of being locked in a metal box and tortured, Nikolas is barely conscious. Yet, somehow Elsa managed to get him to the van and drive him to the safety of her home.
She tells nobody of his whereabouts except her trusted neighbor, Father Boris. A retired Russian doctor, he was able to converse with Nikolas in Russian as well as care for his injuries.
Almost immediately, there is a bond between Elsa and Nikolas. A miracle occurs which allows the two the capability to relate in each other’s languages — they call it “The Intensity of God.”
The bond continues to grow so much that the two septuagenarians decide to marry. A quick ceremony takes place, even as they are contending with the public finding out about Nikolas’ survival and another terrorist attack. Elsa must decide if she’s ready to leave the safety and solitude of her mountain home for the limelight of a public life in Russia. Her love for Nikolas is such that she agrees willingly. The story continues with their love deepening even as they face new challenges.
This is Backus’ first book and she said that it took her 3 1/2 years to write. “Every time I sat down, I started writing.” She said that she has a great love for Russian history, thereby explaining the Russian connection. She’s already planning a sequel to the story, which she said has been well received by most readers.
“What I most enjoyed about writing the book was the real love in it. I think that it is possible to find true love,” said Backus.
“Intensity of God” is available for $15 by calling 703-971-2999.
WENDY COAKLEY-THOMPSON has written dissertations about multi-cultural education. She has published articles and fiction for music and fashion/lifestyle magazines. “Back to Life” is her first novel.
It’s set in New Jersey, the state Coakley-Thompson moved to after coming to the United States from her native Bahamas.
She remembers vividly when a black teenager named Yusuf Hawkins was murdered by an Italian mob in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. The incident took place in 1989.
“I remember how polarized New York was,” said Coakley-Thompson. “People in New Jersey react to whatever happens in New York,” or as she describes it, ‘When New York sneezes, New Jersey catches a cold.’
She took this incident and developed a story. It revolves around a black woman named Lisa and an Italian male named Marc. Coakley-Thompson said that she dated an Italian-American and came from New Jersey but that the similarities ended there.
She first developed her ideas in story form and then turned it into a screenplay while taking a script writing course at Syracuse University. Attempts to market the script were unsuccessful, so she decided to go back to novel form. She began working on it in September, 2000 and it took seven months for it to gel.
She completed it on July 4, 2001 and it was published in February, 2002.
Coakley-Thompson said that sales are good in the Bahamas, where she grew up. Here in the states, she has been doing readings at local bookstores. Coakley-Thompson’s book is self-published and she said, “It’s tough not having a big publishing house behind me, but I also know that it’s up to me to make the book successful.”
She’s concerned that potential readers view “Back to Life” as a black book. “It’s not black, it’s blue [because of the cover]. If you look deeper into the story, you’ll see that we all have the same experiences. It doesn’t matter whether you’re black, white, yellow or green.”
“Back to Life” is available through Amazon.com, and BarnesandNoble.com.