Tales from an Author’s Life

I’ve written more than 10 drafts of my in-process novel, now called Butterfly Minds. It’s been through my writer’s group multiple times, the advisory committee for my Doctor of Ministry degree, two developmental editors, and 5 beta readers. I cannot tell you how much I would like the current draft to be my last!

However…I’m still struggling. Here’s what seem to be the big problems:

Continue reading “Tales from an Author’s Life”

When the Powerful Are Given Free Rein: Hoover and the FBI during the Red Scare

chasing the american dream novel

In Chasing the American Dream, a key event is the government’s harsh response to the protagonist, David Svehla. When David exposes an ex-Nazi scientist, the press accuses him of being a Communist. Some readers have been curious whether these sorts of accusations actually happened in the early and mid-1950’s. The answer is yes, they did, largely due to the activities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) under J. Edgar Hoover. He was a rabid anti-Communist, determined to eradicate Americans with such views from the U.S. Government, using whatever measures were necessary. Though there is no doubt that Communist infiltrators or agents existed in the U.S., Hoover went overboard, using problematic or even illegal means to find and eliminate them.

At that time in our history, the FBI was a popular agency and Congressional oversight did not exist. A series of executive orders gave the agency significant investigative power, allowing it to check into any activities it deemed a threat to national security. Hoover’s agents compiled extensive lists of potentially dangerous people, starting as early as 1939. By 1954, according to Ellen Schrecker’s research, the FBI had identified over 26,000. In Hoover’s estimation, he had the authority to investigate anyone for whom “derogatory information turned up in their personnel file.” Continue reading “When the Powerful Are Given Free Rein: Hoover and the FBI during the Red Scare”

The Ethical Questions in the Hidden History of Operation Paperclip

One of the many joys of writing historical fiction is discovering pieces of history not taught in schools or written about in any detail in the media. Operation Paperclip was one of those. I tripped over it doing research on the Target Forces badge I found in my father’s belongings. Information from the National Archives II in College Park, MD, illuminated its significance: the Allies wished to secure Germany’s “intellectual assets,” especially in the sciences. Continue reading “The Ethical Questions in the Hidden History of Operation Paperclip”

From Anger to Forgiveness

Anger to ForgivenessReaders often ask me where I get the idea for a book. As I suggested in my first posts, I write novels to resolve the conundrums I encounter in life. For Chasing the American Dream, the issue came from living with my angry father, whose constant irritation seemed to come from being frustrated that his American Dream had not come true. Edwin Brush, Sr., pictured at the right in 1942, died in 1972. If I wanted to figure out why he had been so angry and often lashed out at me, I was on my own. Continue reading “From Anger to Forgiveness”

This Hero’s Journey

Before researching my father’s assignments as a member of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), Secret Intelligence Branch, I believed I was going to write a book about one of those classic heroes, a person who appears normal on the surface but reveals impressive powers. I imagined my dad had shown incredible physical courage, breathtaking ingenuity, a fearlessness in the face of threat, moral integrity and self-sacrifice. After all, that’s what he’d told my brother and me about his exploits when we were children. I was about to reveal my dad as an inspiration to the thousands who would read my book about him. It was an opportunity to write a spy story in the shadow of Frederick Forsyth, John Le Carre, and Ian Fleming. Continue reading “This Hero’s Journey”

What is the Deal with Men and Anger?

Chasing the American DreamAs I explained in my September blog post, until he died when I was 25, I knew my father as an angry man. He came home from teaching high school many nights spewing his unhappiness. His students didn’t really want to learn; too few bothered to do the assigned homework; his principal was an idiot. As we’d pull out of the driveway on an errand, he’d notice someone left an upstairs light on and yell: “Do you think I’m made of money?” Continue reading “What is the Deal with Men and Anger?”

My Inspiration for “Chasing the American Dream”

When I told my older brother (about 2010) that I was looking around for a topic to write a novel about, he said I had to write one about what our dad did in the war. Dad (Edwin Franklyn Brush, shown below with his brothers ca. 1942) had told us thrilling stories about his time in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in World War II, and I thought perhaps my brother was right. I resonated with the idea of writing a thriller about Dad’s spying exploits. I headed to the National Archives II, just outside Washington, D.C., which houses O.S.S. papers.

Read More