Please welcome my guest today, Donald Michael Platt, author of four novels, most recently the WWII fighter pilot adventure, Close to the Sun.
Publication Date: June 15, 2014
Fireship Press, 404p
Genre: Historical Fiction
I thank you, Cynthia, for this opportunity to guest post on your blog.
My WWII historical novel Close to the Sun follows the lives of two Americans and a German from childhood through the end of WWII. As boys, they idealize the exploits of WWI fighter aces known as chivalrous Knights of the Skies. Hank Milroy from Wyoming learns his first flying lessons from observing falcons. Karl, Fürst von Pfalz-Teuffelreich, aspires to surpass his father’s 49 Luftsiegen accumulated during WWI. Seth Braham falls in love with flying during an air show at San Francisco’s Chrissy Field. The young men meet exceptional women. Texas tomboy Catherine “Winty” McCabe believes she is as good a flyer as any man. Princess Maria-Xenia, a stateless White Russian, works for the Abwehr, German intelligence. Elfriede “Elfi” Wohlmann is a frontline nurse. Mimi Kay sings with a big band.
Flying fighters over Europe, Hank, Karl, and Seth experience the exhilaration of aerial combat victories and acedom during the unromantic reality of combat losses, tedious bomber escort, strafing runs, and firebombing of entire cities. Callous political decisions and military mistakes add to their disillusion, especially one horrific tragedy at the end of the war.
Yet, some may say all that is not Historical Fiction because they are rigidly dogmatic regarding their parameters of what qualifies as HF. I believe there is no consensus. And what do the readers of this blog think?
I have read and heard varying opinions: any novel set in the past dealing with historic events or against a background of those same events even if set as recently as twenty, thirty years ago and beyond are HF. Some limit it to fifty years, others to one hundred. For those who use the hundred year parameter, Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind would not have qualified as Historical Fiction when it was first published. I have seen some postings on fb where the contributor labels contemporary novels written up to two hundred and fifty years ago, such as those by Jane Austen, as HF.
Some categorize the distance when a novel becomes Historical Fiction with a corollary: if the author was alive at the time he writes about, even if it was fifty or more years ago, it cannot be Historical Fiction.
I take exception to that because of my age and the specifics of Close to the Sun, which takes place mostly between 1938 to 1945 – sixty-nine to seventy six years ago.
To digress, I once taught a high school course in the late 1960s with the oxymoronic title Current History, which covered the post WWII, and another titled Modern European History, Europe from 1600 to the Present.
I can cite an oriental rug analogy based on my experience. I used to collect tribal rugs from the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Persia. One dealer categorized them in this way: new, used, fifty to one hundred years old as semi-antique, and one hundred-plus as antique.
I was seven when war broke out in Europe, nine and a half when Pearl Harbor was attacked, and thirteen when Japan surrendered. Close to the Sun is not a memoir from a boy who watched the war unfold from the Home Front as a current event.
Obviously I was not a WWII fighter pilot. Most readers will be under the age of sixty-nine and may well view the book as Historical Fiction.
WWII is taught as History. I still had to do historical research and interview fighter aces from the USA, UK, and the Luftwaffe for Close to the Sun. I will be writing the sequel and must do research again to cover peacetime, the Cold War, the Korean War, and the Viet Nam War, which ended forty years ago. I shall categorize that novel as HF.
Close to the Sun follows the lives of fighter pilots during the Second World War. As a boy, Hank Milroy from Wyoming idealized the gallant exploits of WWI fighter aces. Karl, Fürst von Pfalz-Teuffelreich, aspires to surpass his father’s 49 Luftsiegen. Seth Braham falls in love with flying during an air show at San Francisco’s Chrissy Field.
The young men encounter friends, rivals, and exceptional women. Braxton Mobley, the hotshot, wants to outscore every man in the air force. Texas tomboy Catherine “Winty” McCabe is as good a flyer as any man. Princess Maria-Xenia, a stateless White Russian, works for the Abwehr, German Intelligence. Elfriede Wohlman is a frontline nurse with a dangerous secret. Miriam Keramopoulos is the girl from Brooklyn with a voice that will take her places.
Once the United States enter the war, Hank, Brax, and Seth experience the exhilaration of aerial combat and acedom during the unromantic reality of combat losses, tedious bomber escort, strafing runs, and the firebombing of entire cities. As one of the hated aristocrats, Karl is in as much danger from Nazis as he is from enemy fighter pilots, as he and his colleagues desperately try to stem the overwhelming tide as the war turns against Germany. Callous political decisions, disastrous mistakes, and horrific atrocities they witness at the end of WWII put a dark spin on all their dreams of glory.
Blogger Praise for Close to the Sun
“Donald Michael Platt’s Close to the Sun is an amazing story told from the perspective of average male fighter pilots in the onset and during WWII, juxtaposing between various men from many sides of the war. The details in this novel were spectacular, creating imagery and depth in the scenes and characters, as well as the dialogue being so nostalgic and well-written it felt right out of a 1950’s film. The romantic nuances of his storytelling felt incredibly authentic with the tug and pull of the men being called to serve and the women whom they loved who had their own high hopes, dreams, or work. I loved how he portrayed this women the most—strongly and fiercely independent. I’ve read several other books by Platt, and this is the best one I’ve read yet! I couldn’t stop reading. ” – Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, Hook of a Book
“Donald Platt’s Close To The Sun, is nothing short of Historical Fiction gold. Platt’s flair for emotionally provocative storytelling makes this book attractive to both male and female readers. Seamlessly weaving the threads of action and feeling into a brilliant tableau of humanity. This is a masterfully penned tale of war, ambition, love, loss, and ACES!” – Frishawn Rasheed, WTF Are You Reading?
“Fast-paced and riveting I couldn’t get enough of Hank, Karl and Seth’s exploits! CLOSE TO THE SUN is a thrilling novel that leads readers through idyllic dreams of heroism and the grim reality of war. Platt provides readers with a unique coming-of-age story as three adventure-seeking boys discover far more than how to be an aerial combat pilot. CLOSE TO THE SUN is an amazing tale of adventure, heroism, war and the drive within us all that keeps us going when things look bleak.” – Ashley LaMar, Closed the Cover
“I found Close to the Sun to be an entertaining read, it was well written, with well developed characters, these characters had depth and emotion. A unique plot, told from the point of view of pilots prior to and during World War II. It was a well researched and interesting book” – Margaret Cook, Just One More Chapter
Buy the Book
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About the Author
Author of four other novels, ROCAMORA, HOUSE OF ROCAMORA, A GATHERING OF VULTURES, and CLOSE TO THE SUN, Donald Michael Platt was born and raised in San Francisco. Donald graduated from Lowell High School and received his B.A. in History from the University of California at Berkeley. After two years in the Army, Donald attended graduate school at San Jose State where he won a batch of literary awards in the annual SENATOR PHELAN LITERARY CONTEST.
Donald moved to southern California to begin his professional writing career. He sold to the TV series, MR. NOVAK, ghosted for health food guru, Dan Dale Alexander, and wrote for and with diverse producers, among them as Harry Joe Brown, Sig Schlager, Albert J. Cohen, Al Ruddy plus Paul Stader Sr, Hollywood stuntman and stunt/2nd unit director. While in Hollywood, Donald taught Creative Writing and Advanced Placement European History at Fairfax High School where he was Social Studies Department Chairman.
After living in Florianópolis, Brazil, setting of his horror novel A GATHERING OF VULTURES, pub. 2007 & 2011, he moved to Florida where he wrote as a with: VITAMIN ENRICHED, pub.1999, for Carl DeSantis, founder of Rexall Sundown Vitamins; and THE COUPLE’S DISEASE, Finding a Cure for Your Lost “Love” Life, pub. 2002, for Lawrence S. Hakim, MD, FACS, Head of Sexual Dysfunction Unit at the Cleveland Clinic.
Currently, Donald resides in Winter Haven, Florida where he is polishing a dark novel and preparing to write a sequel to CLOSE TO THE SUN.
For more information please visit Donald Michael Platt’s website. You can also connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.
Close to the Sun Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, August 18
Review at Forever Ashley & Closed the Cover
Wednesday, August 20
Spotlight at A Bookish Affair
Thursday, August 21
Review at Tribute Books Mama
Friday, August 22
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Saturday, August 23
Review at Beth’s Book Reviews
Monday, August 25
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Tuesday, August 26
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story
Wednesday, August 27
Spotlight at Princess of Eboli
Thursday, August 28
Guest Post at The Writing Desk
Friday, August 29
Review at Queen of All She Reads
Monday, September 1
Review at Book Nerd
Tuesday, September 2
Review & Guest Post at My Tangled Skeins Book Reviews
Wednesday, September 3
Review at Book Babe
Thursday, September 4
Spotlight at Layered Pages
Spotlight at Kinx’s Book Nook
Friday, September 5
Guest Post at Cynthia Robertson Blog