Novelist and Poet Soren Petrek
Cold Lonely Courage
Wolves at Our Door
Angels Don’t Die
The Patience County War
The Trophy Wife, a Jilted Wife’s Revenge
January 9, 2021
I discovered my character, Madeleine Toche while writing my first novel, The Patience County War. Madeleine was eighty years old fighting alongside a group of rural vigilantes against a Mexican Meth cartel. I wanted a tough older female character to include as a member of my band of grey warriors and there were none tougher than the real-life agents of the British Special Operations Executive during WWII. The SOE was the first clandestine espionage agency to put women into the field to set Europe ablaze at the directive of Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The SOE was Churchill’s Army of the Shadows.
Madeleine Toche is a young woman at the outset of WWII. Her brother is killed defending France and she ultimately joins the French Resistance, hiding Jewish children from the Nazis and helping to spirit them out of France. This aspect of madeleine’s character was inspired by a real Belgian Resistance fighter, Madeleine Behrens, a family friend. Madeline is raped by an SS officer. The violation changes her and releases a dark side of her personality, she’s a killer. It comes naturally and remorselessly against her enemies and those of France.
Wolves at Our Door is the immediate sequel to Cold Lonely Courage. I wanted to revisit my protagonist, Allied super-assassin Madeleine Toche. In Wolves, Madeleine and her mentor Berthold Hartmann go after the Nazi Atomic Bomb project in a bid to keep the Nazis from turning their inevitable defeat into absolute victory and world domination. Hartmann, a German Jewish war hero from WWI, and Madeleine’s mentor and trainer, take on the SS infiltrating the notorious Dora concentration camp whose Jewish slave labor is used to build V-2 rockets, soon to be fitted with operational atomic warheads.
Overall, my inspiration comes from the desperate need for more action adventure, thrillerand military-themed novels featuring women as the heroes. There are hundreds of real-life examples from history where women played the pivotal and essential roles in successful military and clandestine campaigns. I wanted the world to recognize these obscure heroes, so many of whom lost to time, will never have their stories told.
In mainstream literature and films, the female characters are so often stunningly beautiful, indestructible, and dominant. Real heroes are usually must act alone, with onlytheir courage and sense of what’s right and wrong to guide them.
Here’s an important quote from the officer who recruited women for the British Special Operations Executive in WWII:
“I was responsible for recruiting women for the work, in the face of a good deal of opposition, I may say, from the powers that be. In my view, women were verymuch better than men for the work. Women, as you must know, have a fargreater capacity for cool and lonely courage than men.”
—Captain Selwyn Jepson, British Special Operations Executive SeniorRecruiting Officer, World War Two.
At present, the Madeleine Toche Series is published in Italy by Triskell / NUAEdizioni and distributed by the 100-year-old Messaggerie Libre, distributors of Big 5US publishers and Forlaget Mellemgaard, the 3rd largest publisher in Denmark. I’mproud to be with both. My literary agent in Italy, Tiziana Marzano, is looking for anew publisher for the French language edition, Courage.in France, and Canada.