Welcome to the YA/MG Blog Blitz Stephanie. Thank you for joining us. This is different from the usual young adult novel in that it takes us back in time to the nineteen eighties. Don't forget to leave a comment folks before the 15th February to win a copy of Destination Berlin.
SUE: What is Destination: Berlin about? What audience is it appropriate for?
STEPH: Destination: Berlin is set in Europe 1988, right before the fall of the Berlin Wall. It's a military action/adventure story with a "sweet" romance between Sharon and Dimitri. It's a good fit for a young adult audience.
The story begins with American Corporal Sharon Cates on the Duty Train from Bremerhaven to West Berlin. Bremerhaven is a town on the West German seacoast. She's traveling to Berlin to attend the Berlin Orientation Tour. The four allies who won World War II use the duty train - the American, British, French, and Soviets. Sharon meets a Soviet soldier, Dimitri Nagory, and while they're talking, the Duty Train derails in the heart of Communist East Germany. The Stasi and KGB actively pursue Sharon. She has to rely on the help of Dimitri to make it to West Berlin.
SUE: Where did you find the inspiration for the story?
STEPH: It was inspired by my own trip to Berlin in 1988 to attend the Berlin Orientation Tour. In 1988, I was on active duty, 95B, Military Police. My rank? Specialist. My company was the 583rd Ordinance Company stationed out of Muenster, Germany.
Travel to Berlin in 1988 was limited. There was an air route, but usually high level officers used it. You could travel by car on one of two auto routes, or you could take the duty train from Frankfurt or Bremerhaven.
I used the Duty Train out of Bremerhaven. When I traveled to Berlin that year I had to dot my "I's" and cross my "t's". I had to go in my dress uniform, fill out FLAG orders, get a security briefing, and be at the station in Bremerhaven by 1000 pm.
My company dropped me off at the train station at 4 pm. I had to kill 6 hours! I pulled up in front of a small café, ordered a coke and a brotchen, whipped out a good book, and then it hit me – the plot for Destination: Berlin. I grabbed as many napkins as I could, and while my own trip to Berlin was uneventful, my heroine, Sharon Cates, has the adventure of a lifetime.
SUE: How long did it take you to write?
STEPH: About 3 years. This was my first attempt at storytelling and I self-published with IUniverse.
SUE: What do you want readers to take away from the story?
STEPH: That they've had the adventure of a lifetime right along with Sharon.
SUE: How much is fact – and fiction?
STEPH: I hope I've blended both elements well so you can't tell! The biggest fiction is who rides the duty train. In real life, only the Americans, British, and French rode the train.
SUE: What was it like being stationed in Germany?
STEPH: Amazing! Germany is a higher latitude than Manchester, NH, where I grew up, so when the sunset at 10 pm in the summer and rose at 8 am in the winter, I found it disconcerting. The countryside is just as beautiful as New England. The castles are a proud testament to Germany's history. Snow makes the country a cold, yet eye-catching winter wonderland. One of my favorite activities was to go volksmarching in different cities. For me, history came alive in Germany.
SUE: Sharon is the heroine – what are her strengths? Weaknesses?
STEPH: She has a strong sense of what's right and wrong. When she starts a project, she's determined to finish it. Unfortunately, her sense of trust has been skewered and she's not sure who can trust. When you have to make a decision based on that sense, it can be nerve-wracking.
SUE: Dimitri is the hero. What does he find appealing about Sharon?
STEPH: Her sense of duty, her loyalty. She cares passionately for her friends and family and that resonates with him. It's the one foundation they share and can build on.
SUE: Tell us a little about yourself.
STEPH: I was born and raised in Manchester, NH with a hungry appetite for reading gothic romance, especially by Victoria Holt. I served in the Army for 11 years from 1986 to 1997 and spent 7 years in Germany. My time in Europe inspired two passions – my love of history and the paranormal. Currently, I live in California and work for LAPD as a 911 dispatcher.
Here's a blurb:
Stuck in a routine job in Cold War Germany guarding nuclear weapons, U.S. Army Corporal Sharon Cates thinks she is going to Berlin to attend an orientation tour. Unknown to her, the briefcase she carries contains top-secret information that the Stasi and KGB are willing to kill for.
Soviet Junior Sergeant Dimitri Nagory is an assistant to a high-ranking Soviet officer in his country's embassy in England. Dimitri isn't expecting a great adventure as he boards the duty train for a routine trip to headquarters in Berlin, and he certainly isn't expecting to meet any Americans.
The Stasi derails the train in the middle of East Germany, expecting to take the information from Sharon's dead body. But when the sudden explosion hurls Sharon and Dimitri from the train and into each other, Dimitri, too, becomes a target. With Sharon nursing badly bruised ribs and branded by her country as a traitorous thief for stealing top-secret documents, Dimitri goes against everything he's ever been taught to ensure her safe return to the West.
BOOK TRAILER ON YOU TUBE:
5 Stars, Midwest Book Review:
Destination Berlin is a tautly written saga of mistrust, determination, and survival.
5 Stars, S. Schneider, Amazon Review:
Overall, this novel offers a delightful story and amazing plot!
5 Stars, Danielle Thorne, Author, "By Heart and Compass"
Cardin plots a military suspense with ease.
5 Stars, Gail Pallotta
The fast-paced book kept me turning pages as I found myself in the midst of espionage, a fascinating culture, a budding romance and a conspiracy.
ENJOY THIS EXCERPT:
Sharon walked slowly toward the tree branch with the unusual glint. As soon as she was in eyesight, she smiled. Her briefcase! The handle was caught on a branch. Thank God she'd found it. She stood under the branch and reached up on her tiptoes, grimacing. It was just out of her reach. Looking around, she spied a stick that might help her to jar it loose. Her upper body still felt stiff and sore with the slightest motion, but she would soldier through it.
Was it like this for her father, too? He had been a first lieutenant in the infantry during Vietnam. Certainly he'd faced intense situations like this.
Sharon stopped, realizing she hadn't gone far. "Over here, Jr. Sgt."
He approached, his eyes narrowing. "What are you doing?"
"I found my briefcase." She pointed to the tree.
Dimitri paused and pursed his lips. Sharon took a stick and smacked the branch holding her briefcase hostage. The briefcase fell to the ground, but Dimitri snatched it up. Sharon could sense a change in his demeanor and it unnerved her.
"Corporal," he said, "I need for you to be completely honest with me right now. Can you do that?"
"Of course," Sharon answered. "What's wrong?"
"Are you a courier? Do you have classified government documents with you? Documents the Stasi want?"
Destination: Berlin is a Print book only. Here's where you can buy it: Amazon:
Barnes and Noble:
Goodie Time: Post a comment and ask a question about the novel, Germany, Berlin, or the Cold War, and I'll return on 15 FEB to pick a winner who will receive an autographed copy of the novel.
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