Q&A with David LeRoy
1. Siren of Paris takes place during World War II. Why did you pick this era as the setting of your novel?
A: After a trip to Europe to study art, I became intrigued by the role the French Resistance played in the war, and if any Americans had been trapped in Europe by the war. My research confirmed that not only had American civilians had been trapped in France, but many of them did contribute and play a role in the French Resistance. I soon began to uncover stories about World War II which relatively few people would remember today. The most disturbing stories had to do with betrayal, and of course the consequences of these betrayals upon the lives of the victims.
2. What is one of the most interesting things you learned while doing research?
A: That one of the largest French Resistance underground organizations in Paris had a blind teenager in charge of vetting members for recruitment. The Sons of Liberty, also known as Volunteers of Liberty, was basically a group of teenage boys who insisted a boy by the name of Jacques Lusseyran be in charge of members. Prospective members would have to go to Jacques apartment and be interviewed. The reason Jacques was chosen for this task is because by voice alone he could tell if a man or “boy” could be trusted. Volunteers of Liberty, by the way, was not blowing up trains or kidnapping soldiers. Their early task was simply producing a newspaper, and for that alone they could be shot. Eventually, a member did come along who convinced the larger group that he was trustworthy, before he had an interview with Jacques. All I know about Elio is that he was a medical student in 1943 and he worked with the Volunteers of Liberty for months until he finally betrayed the organization from within. Jacques spent the remainder of the war at Buchenwald, and his other friends ended up dead by 1944. But the newspaper they produced, called Defense de la France, went on to become a major daily newspaper in France after the Liberation. This is a paper that is literally founded on the sacrifices of young Frenchmen.
3. What characteristics, if any, do you and your MC, Marc Tolbert Share?
A: An ability to make poor decisions with the very best of intentions. Marc Tolbert is a classic New England Catholic male from the 1930’s, and he is a bit emotionally co-dependent, with a leaning towards guilt and shame. Typically, young men who are emotionally codependent, with a weakness for guilt, struggle with relationships with emotionally manipulative women. Marc is also very attractive and shares common biases about women, so he is really doomed before the war even begins. As flawed as Marc may be, he is able to survive the war due to his ability to make new friends and alliances, even with the most unlikely people. So his greatest strength, which is forming bonds of friendship and intimate relationships, is also his greatest weakness, because that contributes to his betrayal. He tends to see what he wishes to see in people, and this renders him emotionally blind to the shadow side of some of the people he knows and trusts.
4. Which character from your novel was the most fun to write?
A: Dora. I know a few people right now who believe Dora is based upon them. I suppose they have a point, because many of Dora’s personality traits are in some of my closest female friends. However, I do place a lot of my own personality into Dora, especially when it comes to being upbeat and making the most of very difficult circumstances. Dora is guarded by that positive happy face, which does crack under the strain. Ellen DeGeneres is probably similar to Dora, and this is why when she finally does lose her guard, it is powerful spiritually and emotionally. She does have deep wounds, but she guards them with humor.
5. What was the hardest part of writing Siren of Paris?
A:That would be the Lancastria. In those scenes, real people are involved in that sinking. This is not a fictionalized event or an over-dramatization of some minor sinking. There were two very young Belgian children, a boy and girl, both with dogs, who boarded this ship trying to escape France. No one knows their names or where their parents were. Someone said that these children had walked across France with those dogs and I have come to believe this is plausible, given the chaotic social upheaval of the fall of France. Chances are the parents had died in Belgium or Northern France. To not include the children in the Lancastria sinking would be a major omission. It would be like telling the story of Titanic sinking without the Macys on deck refusing a life boat. But actually including them in the story was tough, emotionally, because I know that those two children were the ultimate “known unto God” victims of that sinking. Their parents probably did not miss them because they were already dead, and no one on the ship knew them by name, yet everyone remembered these children including hair and eye color. I decided late in the development of the novel to not only include them but to give them a major role in the story as a way humanize the loss while keeping their identity unknown. Children do not have a context for understanding war and can be easily overwhelmed by events. They look to adults for clues that it is safe, and I believe these children followed all of these other adults boarding the ship because it seemed safe to them, just as it did to the 9,000 others who boarded.
6. Are you an early bird or a night owl?
A: I can be both, but I will not write into the late hours of the night. I stop around 10pm. At some point, it is no longer beneficial to continue working. My best writing is done in the morning, but that time of day presents other challenges, such as my work schedule.
7. What book are you currently reading?
A: Chamulas in the World of the Sun, Time and Space in a Maya Oral Tradition by Gary H. Gossen, 1974. The book is essentially an anthropological study of the Chamulan culture, which is located in Southern Mexico, near the city of San Cristobal de la Casas. I just finished another book on this culture called With our Heads Bowed, which examined more of the gender relationships in Chamula. My next project has a female protagonist set in this culture, so I right now it is all about primary research.
8. Light side or dark side?
Oh, Dark side.
9. Chocolate or vanilla?
10. Coffee or tea?
I am addicted now to coffee. It is horrible. I need to switch to tea, but I have this emotional addiction to coffee.
About the author:
A Native of California, David received a BA in Philosophy and Religion at Point Loma Nazarene College in San Diego. The degree served him well while selling women’s shoes, waiting tables, or working odd jobs after college until settling in the field of telecommunications, where he has worked for the past 18 years. Early on, he demonstrated artistic abilities. For many years, David marketed a line of fine art photographic prints through various galleries and retail outlets.
In the past few years, his focus has shifted to painting and drawing, which included the development of a children’s e-book in the Apple Itunes store under “David Tribble” title “Lord of the Scribes.”
After returning from a European arts study program, he became interested in the history behind the French Resistance during World War Two. Writing fiction has become his latest way to explore philosophical, moral and emotional issues of life. The Siren of Paris is his first novel.
David Leroy did extensive research on the German occupation of France for his debut novel The Siren of Paris. This historical novel follows the journey of one American from medical student, to artist, to political prisoner at Buchenwald Concentration Camp during World War Two.
You can purchase The Siren of Paris in Kindle e-book format from Amazon -- http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0088CA098 and learn more about this author and novel at http://www.thesirenofparis.com/
For more information about this virtual book tour, please visit -- http://bookpromotionservices.com/2012/05/22/siren-of-paris-tour/