Today Jean Gallant Marcoux is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about his debut historical novel, Our Time Will Come.
Welcome, Jean. Let’s get started, shall we?
What prompted you to write about this historical event?
Years ago, I learned about the two WWII Québec Conferences of 1943 and 1944, where President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill and their military advisers met in Québec City, my hometown, to make plans for D-Day. I even saw newspaper pictures of Churchill touring the city in an open-convertible limousine. At one point, the limo stopped in front of City Hall, and Churchill stood in the car to salute the dignitaries and the immense cheering crowd filling the street. I wondered why the Nazis didn’t use the opportunity to assassinate the British Prime Minister. Or did they try?
Once I retired from practicing medicine, I planned to write a spy novel on the subject, and I read all I could find about the events occurring in Europe and in Québec, just before and during WWII. I also read online, French and Canadian newspapers of the era.
I soon realized that a typical story of a Nazi spy coming by U-boat from Europe to assassinate Churchill during the Québec Conference, didn’t make historical sense. The planning of the Conference was kept secret almost until the day it started, and Churchill was NOT supposed to be exposed to the public. It’s only the Prime Minister’s daredevil nature, coupled with daily hordes of Quebecers in front of the Chateau Frontenac hotel clamoring for Churchill, that produced the last-minute decision of the open-convertible tour.
My spy novel became a love story, and I’m glad it did, because “Our Time Will Come” is a story that fans of historical novels should enjoy, as it explores a Canadian angle on WWII. Romance being a central theme of the book, it should also satisfy readers of that genre.
How closely did you stick to the historical facts?
All the historical facts in Our Time Will Come are accurate as to the date and place they occurred. Several minor characters are real-life figures. When they appear, the situation, incident and dialogue are product of my imagination.
What research did you do for this book?
I read all the books I could find regarding U-boats in Canadian waters, and German spies on Canadian soil during WWII. I also read online, French and Canadian newspapers of the 1938-1943 era to have the historical timeline right, and find out the mind set of the people at the time.
Do you use a mixture of historic and invented characters in the novel? Which is more difficult to write?
All the major and secondary characters in Our Time Will Come are fictitious. Winston Churchill, a minor character in my book was historically where I describe him to be in the book. His letter to my protagonists, however, is the fruit of my imagination.
In a historical novel you must re-create a place and people in a bygone era. How did you bring the place and people you are writing about to life?
The places I describe in Paris and Québec City, haven’t changed much since the 1940s. As mentioned above, reading newspapers of the era gave me a sense of what were Québecers concerns at the time. Conscription of young men, lack of available stuff, and food rationing were top on the list. The crowds gathered in front of the Chateau Frontenac Hotel begging to see Churchill, triggered his unplanned open convertible limo tour of the city.
There often seems to be more scope in historical novels for male characters than female characters. Do you prefer to write one sex or the other? And if so, why?
It is easier for a male to write from a male POV. However, to understand Hans, my German male protagonist’s decision to report to his army unit rather than escape to Canada with Hélène, his love in 1939, I had to go read historical books of the era. I found that ordinary German men, not only Nazis felt it was their duty to fight for the Fatherland.
For my female protagonist, Hélène, I imagined what my mother and aunts, who were her contemporaries, and like her educated by nuns, would have done if placed in her circumstances.
Thanks for answering my questions, Jean, and good luck with Our Time Will Come.
Jean Gallant Marcoux will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Enter to win a $20 Amazon/BN GC by clicking here.
The novel is available at the following online retailers:
About Jean Gallant Marcoux: He was born in Quebec City Canada, where he earned an MD degree from Laval University. As a board-certified allergist, he practiced in Quebec City from 1970 to 1977 after which he continued his career in Houston Texas until his retirement in 2007.
Passionate for history, he has published articles for historical society magazines in his native Quebec. This is his debut novel. Dr. Marcoux lives in Houston with his family.