Marilyn Baron Interviews William Whitestone from Under the Moon Gate
Today, I will be interviewing William Whitestone, the “anti-hero” from my historical romantic thriller, Under the Moon Gate. There are actually two “heroes” in my novel, because there are two generational love stories. The first takes place in contemporary Bermuda and the second in Bermuda during World War II. William Whitestone is a German sleeper agent known as Island Eagle, sent to the island to coordinate its capture for the Nazis.
We don’t meet William until Part Two of the book, The Socialite and the Spy, which spans the years 1937 to 1958. I say anti-hero because how can a Nazi spy be a hero? There are two sides to William’s personality. William is not an evil person; he’s just doing his job, even though his mission is problematic. After he’s been in Bermuda for three years, he falls head over heels in love with a beautiful socialite, Diana Smithfield Hargrave, cherished daughter of the highest ranking British Royal Naval Officer on the island, who threatens to compromise his mission. And there is a nasty villain, codenamed Nighthawk, William’s subordinate. In fact there are two villains in the novel who will threaten him and his granddaughter, Patience, the contemporary heroine of the book. Her love interest is Nathaniel Morgan, reputed to be Nighthawk’s grandson by way of an illicit relationship with his seductive French mistress who was really a British agent.
Why did I write the book?
After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Bermuda was surrounded by German U-boats. Although the move cut off vital supplies, the islands were never invaded. Why did the Germans stop short of capturing that tiny speck in the ocean when the value of controlling such a strategic possession could have altered the outcome of the war? Under the Moon Gate is my fictional account of why Bermuda was spared. My family and I have vacationed there about ten times. I love Bermuda and I wanted to set my novel there.
MB: When did you arrive in Bermuda? Where are you from? What is your real name?
WW: I arrived in Bermuda in May 1937 by way of Switzerland, but I was born Wilhelm von Hesselweiss in Dresden, Germany.
MB: What is your cover?
WW: After a stint as a partner in a Swiss engineering consulting firm, I took over as chairman of Bermuda Power Company, Ltd., when Sir James Markham went missing in a mysterious boating accident. My qualifications were tailor made for the job so the government brought me in on an emergency basis and asked me to stay permanently. I serve on the board of several banks on the island and I have ownership control of the telephone company in a joint venture arrangement with an overseas conglomerate.
MB: Why were you sent to Bermuda? What do you hope to accomplish?
WW: To be in the right place at the right time. Since Britain and France have officially declared war on Germany, information is king in wartime Bermuda and secrets are as negotiable as coin of the realm. I’ve been given a new identity, a new life and I left behind my first love, Emilie. I have a mission, but I’m still a man and I crave the company of a soft woman. From the beginning I understood that a new woman was part of the plan. I’ve resisted, until now, but marriage is the next logical step. Perhaps I can find an addlebrained woman, one who could easily be manipulated, who wouldn’t ask too many questions. She doesn’t have to be beautiful, but it wouldn’t hurt if she were pleasant to look at, at least, and to touch.
MB: How did you feel when you first saw your future wife, Diana? What drew you to the person you fell in love with? Did you fall in love at first sight? Do you believe Diana is an example of the weaker sex?
WW: I was at the Starlight Terrace of the Castle Harbour Hotel when a blonde beauty danced by, and I was lost. The girl is a vision, flitting around the room like a hummingbird thirsting in a sumptuous garden. She is impossibly lovely in the pale yellow silk gown that molds to her body, with the flare of the full-length skirt swaying to the rhythm of the music as she moves under the bright lights with one man, then another, then another. I can’t keep my mind or my eyes off of her. With just one look, my heart expands and all rational thought flies out of my head. Now I want—no need—to have my hands on her. No other woman, since Emilie, has caused such a stir in me. But Emilie is my past. Diana is heavenly, achingly young and innocent, with unruly blonde curls cascading around her head. Her green eyes flash as her smile lights up the room. Though she is tall, she is elegant and moves with a grace and a spirit that shines like an aura around her, a butterfly that can never be captured. I know I can never bend this girl to my will. And that makes her even more attractive.
MB: When did you change your mind about your mission and why? And what influence did your family have on your life?
WW: I was sick about the firebombing of Dresden that killed my mother and Emilie. Dresden was a burned-out shell—a hell on earth. I’m heartbroken over all the sailors who drowned when their subs were sunk by German U-boats. I was a sailor, after all. My own father was lost when his ship sunk in World War I. To me, my father was a picture on a lace doily on my mother’s dresser and an Iron Cross medal. I never really knew him but I followed in his footsteps. Since I grew up without a father, I do not want to have a child with Diana, because I don’t want him or her to grow up fatherless like I did, if something should happen to me. How many people would have to die to secure this strategic toehold in the Mid-Atlantic for Germany?
MB: What is the most important thing in your life? What in the outside world is preventing you from getting it? What is your greatest fear?
WW: To love my wife. Diana means the world to me. She is the greatest love of my life, the only thing I value. I didn’t ask for this assignment. It was thrust on me. I was lured into it, courted, charmed, by my former battleship commander, family friend and longtime mentor Rear Admiral Wilhelm Franz Canaris. Neither of us have much respect for Hitler. But I didn’t refuse what I clearly saw as my duty to my country. I wonder how long I can maintain my current illusion. My greatest fear is what Diana will think of me once she learns of my traitorous deeds. I know I am playing a dangerous and volatile game. In the end, I made up my mind in a flash and rushed to act on my decision before I could change it.
MB: Do you feel you betrayed your country?
WW: I was at a crossroads. I didn’t doubt the operation would be successful. It was success I most feared. Once the Germans occupied Bermuda, I would be in charge of the operation. There would be no hiding my identity. When Diana learns who I am, and what I have done, she will never forgive me. Her father will want to break me apart with his bare hands. The man I am just now beginning to regard as a father will look on me with disdain for this ultimate betrayal. I know things in my world will never be the same again.
MB: What did your father-in-law find out when he had you investigated and what did he tell his wife?
WW: “The man has enough money in the bank to buy the entire island and is on his way to doing just that. It seems he’s materialized out of nowhere. Some type of wunderkind.”
MB: What interesting historic events took place while you were in Bermuda?
WW: The visit of the Duke of Windsor and his wife, the divorcée Wallis Simpson, who stopped over on their way to the Bahamas. Like the Duke, who gave up his throne for the woman he loved, I wondered what I would be willing to risk for the woman I loved. Would I abandon my mission? Such traitorous thoughts have been flitting through my mind lately.
UNDER THE MOON GATE By Marilyn Baron THE SPY WHO LOVED HER
A compelling tale of love and intrigue spanning two generations.
BLURB: Dashing sea captain Nathaniel Morgan sails into the life of prim and proper Bermuda heiress Patience Whitestone and threatens to expose her family secrets—ruinous secrets she wasn’t aware of. The two are immediately at odds when Nathaniel moors his vessel in front of her estate and refuses to leave until he finds the cache of gold he’s convinced was buried somewhere on the property during World War II. Can Patience save herself and her family’s reputation when she finds herself reluctantly drawn to this determined “pirate”? Or will someone from the past make good on his threat to destroy them both. Their fate is inextricably linked to Nazi plots and to the beautiful moon gates of Bermuda.
Of all the women on the island, he had to choose the pampered and well-loved daughter of an English vice admiral and the matron of Bermuda society.
“What did your mother have to say,” he asked Diana, visibly shaken after her parents walked away.
“My mother says you couldn’t possibly be a spy. Your obvious blond good looks would arouse too much suspicion.”
“Let’s see if we can’t manage to arouse something else,” she taunted. She appeared to be more relaxed now, and satisfied that her parents would eventually come around, since they had invited William to the house.
“Diana, I do believe you’re a dangerous woman. Dangerous and desirable.”
“Are you, then?” she teased.
“Am I what?” he asked.
“A German spy.” Her lips curled seductively.
“Don’t even joke about something like that at a time like this,” he warned.
She was slowly driving him crazy. The look of her, the feel of her, the smell of her. She was invading his senses, and he was spinning out of control. He pulled her possessively back into his arms and refused to give her up for the rest of the evening.
Marilyn Baron writes in a variety of genres, from humorous coming-of-middle age women’s fiction to historical romantic thrillers and romantic suspense to paranormal/fantasy. She’s published 10 novels with The Wild Rose Press, five short stories with TWB Press and self-published three books. AmazonEncore republished her book Sixth Sense on September 15, 2015. She’s received writing awards in Single Title, Suspense Romance, Novel With Strong Romantic Elements and Paranormal//Fantasy Romance. She is a Georgia Romance Writers (GRW) Maggie Award winner. She’s a PAN member of Romance Writers of America and GRW and winner of the GRW 2009 Chapter Service Award. A public relations consultant in Atlanta, Marilyn graduated with a BS in Journalism and a minor in Creative Writing from the University of Florida. A Miami native, she worked in Public Relations for AT&T in Atlanta for 13 years before starting her own PR firm. She serves on the 2015 and 2016 Roswell Reads Steering Committee. She was selected as a featured author in the 2015 Atlanta Authors Series. She presented on two panels at the AJC-Decatur Book Festival (the largest independent book festival in the country) on September 6, 2015. Read more about Marilyn on her Web site at www.marilynbaron.com.
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