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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Welcome Stephanie Burkhart

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 cafĂ©, 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.
Brandenburg Gate
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?
Checkpoint Charlie

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.
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. 
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. 


Jillian said...

Sounds like another great read from a wonderful writer. I love your stories, Steph. History is a favorite fr me, too.

Nancy Kay said...


Your ability to bring fiction and reality together is a gift. It proves that no matter how determined a writer is to create a story, there must be substance within the writer for them to succeed.

Nice getting to know you.

Barbara M. Hodges said...

Love the excerpt. It's going on my TBR list.

StephB said...

it's great seeing you here! Jilian, I love history. So many fascinating "what-ifs." Nancy, it's nice getting to know you, too. Barbara, I love this story. It's close to my heart.


Jenny Twist said...

Another great blog, Steph. The book looks wonderful

Maggie Toussaint said...

Your excerpt makes me wonder how her briefcase got up in the tree!

I'm thrilled over the great reviews for Destination Berlin, Steph. They are well-deserved.

Blending history, romance, and suspense isn't easy, but you do it with your own trademark style.

All the best, Maggie

StephB said...

thanks for popping in. :) Berlin in 1988 was fascinating.

Maggie, hehe. Things that make you go um.... lol

Tami Dee said...

I love learning more about you, Steph. The book sounds wonderful. Good job.

hotcha12 said...


Sue Perkins said...

Hi Steph, so glad you came to visit. I love your books too, trouble is choosing which one to read next. Hope you have a good few days here.

A said...

What an interesting story! I never got to go to East Germany although my husband did once. Very familiar with Bremerhaven though. for anyone interested in history it's a fascinating part of the world.

Angela Britnell said...

Sorry Steph, messed up and sent my last comments before adding my name - blame it on Monday brain!

Tara Manderino said...

Sounds like a great read. Loved the excerpt.

Mona Risk said...

WOW, What a fantastic plot, steph. I can't wait to read it.

lionmother said...

i really enjoyed your excerpt and I was thrown right into East Germany at that time. All of the paranoia is in that one scene. Now I have another book to put on my TBR list.:)

Sarah J. McNeal said...

What an interesting story concept. I love the cold war atmosphere in Berlin. You've had such an adventurous life, Steph.
I know this book is going to a huge success.


Steph, looks like another awesome book for you! I can't wait to read this one. Love those Cold War books!

Wendy said...

Great interview, Sue. Nice to meet you Steph. I was in Berlin in 2006. East and West had well and truly merged. Beautiful buildings, a lovely city. Your excerpt is intiguing. I wonder about the motives of both characters and what is actually in the briefcase :)

Pat McDermott said...

So much tension in one little excerpt, Stephanie. Nicely done. Adventure, danger, and a little sweet romance. Sounds like my kind of story. BTW, I live in New Hampshire and worked in Manchester for several years. It's cold right now! Lovely to meet you, Stephanie. Best of luck with your books.

Morgan Mandel said...

Steph, You are my hero!
You've been to so many places and seen so many things. It's wonderful that you can incorporate them into your books.

Morgan Mandel

StephB said...

Tami, Yay! I'm glad blogger was kind to you, Sweetie.

Angela, I agree - Europe is fascinating to me, Germany, too. I guee I'm a history geek deep inside.

I'm glad you enjoyed the excerpt, Tara.

Mona, I'd be tickled pink if you read it. hehe

Thanks everyone for popping in - and yes, Wendy, there's something in that briefcase that shouldn't be and it's the crux of Sharon's woes.

Pat, how wild is that! I agree - its cold up that way.

Thanks everyone for popping in and sharing your thoughts. Remember to leave your email address. I'll be picking a winner tomorrow to receive an autographed copy of the book.


StephB said...

Sue, thank you so much for having me these past couple of days. It's always a pleasure to visit. I pulled Angela Britnell's name out of the hat as my winner for the autographed copy of the book. I just want to thank everyone for their support. It means a lot to me and if you do read Berlin, let me know. I have a couple of goodies for you.


Anonymous said...

Hi, Steph. Sounds like an interesting book. I like the cover.

CONGRATS to the winner of an autographed copy of the book!