Tag Archives: writing

MADELON

Madelon is the name of a catchy song that French soldiers (the Poilu)) sang endlessly in the dreadful 1914-1918 days when German artillery shells fell like rain all over northern France. How is it that music somehow eases the pain and the anxiety of the men ordered to put their lives on the line for what they are told is a noble cause? The British sang It’s a Long Way to Tipperary, the Yanks sang Over There, and Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag. Through the miracle of 2013 technology you can hear these songs on the Internet. Google it. Google Madelon. if you’re like me, you’ll have a hard time getting the tune out of your head for a while.

In The War Guilt Clause, following the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in June, 1919, Ed Frederick and Peggy Schooner embarked on a journalistic bicycle journey through eastern France and western Germany; they planned to speak to the people on the ground – those who lived through the terrible times –  what did these people think of the Treaty?

Near Verdun they encounter a catholic priest, a survivor of the 1916 six-month nightmare that claimed near a million lives.

Bon”, said the man, “my name is France, I am a priest.”                                                                “Then you  are Father France,” said Ed.

The War Guilt Clause chapter entitled Father France, can be seen in its entirety if you go to http://thewarguiltclause.tateauthor.com

You will also see this:  Father France smiled and began to hum a lilting melody of a favorite French song of the day – it was called Madelon. A few bars into the song, Father France moved from humming to singing, then after a few lines, abruptly stopped, looked at the two young Americans nestled close on the grassy French hillside, and in measured  French tones questioned, “Would you like me to marry you?”

The War Guilt Clause is for sale – from Tate or from Max.

                                                                                                                                                                    

 

 

 

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Rotogravure and the Lafayette Escadrille

The images in the Sunday New York Times Rotogravure section were stunning; muddy trenches, soup-plate helmeted soldiers standing in ankle-deep water, devastated landscapes dotted with leafless tree trunks – the Western Front brought to the living rooms of peaceful citizens all over the boroughs; a ghastly air view of a poisonous gas cloud rolling toward a line of trenches. Images and articles about the Lafayette Escadrille.

The 16 year-old Frederick twins, especially Ted, wanted to fly with the Lafayette Escadrille – it would be a glorious escapade to join the knights of the sky jousting over the bloody battlefields. A group of college students had the idea first – when the European war erupted in 1914, long before the U.S. came in, these young adventurers found a way to get in the fight – they joined the fabled French Foreign Legion. French diplomats saw a way to inflame American public opinion to their cause – they organized a group of eight wide-eyed young Americans into what they called the American Flying Squadron – The Escadrille Americaine. Within a year there were 32 and they asked to be called The Lafayette Escadrille to honor the memory of the Marquis de Lafayette, the young French General who joined George Washington’s struggling revolutionaries in America’s war for independence.

Okay, Max, how are you going to get the twins into the air over France?

Stay tuned

The Zimmerman Telegram

As a blogger looking for something to write it would be easy to continue summarizing THE WAR GUILT CLAUSE chapter by chapter, but what I really want to do is put the reader into the mind of the author – where did the ideas come from? When did the narrative begin to take shape? I may have mentioned this before, but  Max Blue is of the novelist school that writes from stream of consciousness as opposed to working from a detailed outline. Max begins with  a tightly wound ball of twine embedded with an encyclopedia of life experiences that often show up on the page  embellished with imaginative romps, and unwinds the story as he goes. A historical novel requires a library of references and THE WAR GUILT CLAUSE is no exception.  The New York Times archives was the primary reference but it turned out that the Rowan University library also housed the microfilm archives of The Times of London which furnished material crucial to the story. And then there was Barbara Tuchman’s captivating account of THE ZIMMERMAN TELEGRAM; it was a goldmine for Max, introducing him to Colonel Edward House, President Wilson’s minister without portfolio who thought he knew German Foreign Minister Arthur Zimmerman, but did not. Thank you also Mrs. Tuchman for the spectacular Bohemian spy, Voska, and for the less colorful but wonderfully named  Wickham Steed. Mrs. Tuchman introduced Steed as the Times Foreign Editor but it seems somebody forgot to tell her he was Foreign Editor of the Times of London, not the New York Times. Max stumbled across this knowledge after the book was published, but only purists would object as Wickham Steed and his wide experience became a major factor in the novel.

The Times Speaks

So there was Max, looking for baseball news and assaulted by The New York Times reporting “All the news that’ s fit to print.” The headlines would have been screaming except that the Times does not scream – it reports. And the reports were alarming – a German submarine that days earlier was escorted to the U.S. Naval Station at Newport, Rhode Island, where the charming and articulate (he spoke perfect English) Captain Hans Rose delivered a letter for the German Ambassador in Washington. Two days later the Captain was sinking ships (five on Sunday, none American) in Nantucket Bay, and Max Blue was inventing characters to tell how these outrages were being received by the citizens and the victims. Mary Cady was born, a pretty thing she was, 16 years old at birth.

And here are the facts: Mary was on the British liner Stefano, traveling from England to America as a nanny for her Aunt Winnie’s four-month-old daughter. Nearing America, Mary had been handed a telegram with the news that her parents had died in a Zeppelin attack. Mary barely had time to file this shocking news when she escaped death by only inches as a shard from a German submarine artillery shell shattered her right arm above the elbow.

Ted and Ed, the Frederick twins, also 16-years-old, were employed by the New York Times and when they reported for work on that Sunday evening, they found the Times theatre critic standing on a table yelling for immediate action by President Wilson to save the honor of the country.

Max was making it up as he went along, wondering with the curiosity of a reader what was going to turn up on the next page, just as he is doing now with this post.

 

From Times to War Guilt

Max Blue’s 1916 war novel called Times, was published in 2004; The War Guilt Clause will be published by Tate Publishing in October 2013. The two novels are tightly connected; the first half of War Guilt is a severely revised version of Times, primarily due to elimination of almost all baseball references which were a significant part of the earlier work. The ventures and adventures of the Frederick twins, Ted and Ed, along with Mary Cady are reprised in the new novel. The second half of The War Guilt Clause focuses on Ed as a war correspondent along with his newly found colleague at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, Peggy Schooner.

It all began in the Rowan University library where Max went to mine the New York Times microfilm archives for information about the 1916 New York Giants 26-game winning streak, an achievement that remains a record for Major League baseball. The Streak was what Max called his account – it can be seen online at http://baseballguru.com.

When Max opened the Times 1916 archives he quickly learned that more than baseball was on the minds of the country and the world. Long and detailed accounts of President Woodrow Wilson’s campaign for a second term, as well as informative articles about the views of Republican challenger Charles Evans Hughes, appeared day after day as the winning of John McGraw’s Giants proceeded through September and in to October. Something began to stir in the sequestered non-baseball section of Blue’s brain

The War Guilt Clause

Okay, I’m going to start over with The War Guilt Clause – it’s the name of Max Blue’s 10th novel and I should say here at the beginning, that there are those who will read this and wonder why Paul Fritz is writing in the third person and pretending that Max Blue is somebody else. The truth is just that – Max Blue is somebody else – born full grown more than 20 years ago and writing furiously ever since, trying to get it all down before it’s too late. So enough with FL and all that – call me Max.

Thanks to daughter Katie, who continues to find new ways to keep me busy, I am here on WordPress. I hope to get it sorted out quickly but I believe I am allowed to write blogs on different subjects and keep them separate, hopefully to avoid confusion. I begin with three categories – (1) The War Guilt Clause, (2) The Luminous Liddy, (3) Baseball. The War Guilt Clause is first because its blog presence is time dependent – after Tate Publishing formally releases it in October, it will mostly have to speak for itself. But there is a big pre-publication push, with special deals and all, featuring a nifty website.

The other two categories, The Luminous Liddy, and Baseball, are more enduring – no time frame, just continuous pleasure to be savored and never taken for granted.

So. The War Guilt Clause. Where did it come from? What’s it all about?

War is a subject that Max, in his earlier incarnation, was exposed to almost continuously, first in the 1930s, less than twenty years after the 1918 Armistice ended the carnage on the Western Front, with stories from surviving veterans, and an avalanche of Hollywood movies – Yankee Doodle Dandy, What Price, Glory?, All Quiet On the Western Front, Wings, The Fighting 69th, Sergeant York.

Then came Pearl Harbor. Max was 12 years-old on December 7, 1941, but remembers exactly where he was and what he was doing on that Sunday morning in East Peoria, Illinois when the news came through. The next four years were a daily reminder of death, destruction, fear, anxiety, and all the emotions attached to a country that, with near unanimous support of the citizens, believed that the United States and all it stood for, was the only thing standing between a world of consummate evil, and a world of peace and domestic tranquility. Hollywood did its part to be sure – Guadalcanal Diary stands out as a movie that sent young Max shuddering in disbelief and nightmarish fear. Max documented some of this in his first novel, For Those In Peril On The Sea.

The Korean War was next and Max was in it, and ultimately sat down to write about it, leaving out tons of detail – Cold Front Passing Hokkaido was published in 2008.

The Kennedy years, the tumultuous 1960s, with the Vietnam War and all, were background for Max and Liddy as they struggled to make a safe home for Katie, Keri, Konrad, Kurt, and Bobtail. More about that later.