Thursday, November 10, 2011
In Honor of Veteran's Day
Prolific novelist and nonfiction author Goyer (All Things Hidden) pens a contemporary story rooted in World War II, where several of her historicals have been set. TV producer Ava Ellington is suffering from heartbreak and making professional mistakes. An unexpected opportunity to go to Europe with her grandfather Jack, a WWII vet, to visit battle sites promises emotional escape and a set of great stories about vets returning to Europe. In Paris, a complication materializes: Ava’s first love, Dennis, is accompanying his grandfather Paul, Jack’s wartime buddy and family friend, on the same trip. Jack has ghosts to face as Ava is reminded of her own past pain. Goyer does well with the Greatest Generation, showing that war is more than nostalgia. Some might well wish for more information about the historical battle sites that frame the present action, but this is a light fictional treatment of a heavy subject. This novel has a sweet way of describing family relationships and will particularly speak to those closely connected to WWII veterans, who are taking their stories with them to the grave.
Excerpt: Remembering You
Ava Ellington pulled the lid off the red sharpie with her teeth and drew a thick line from one corner of the clipboard page to the other.
As head producer of Mornings with Stacey and Clark, Seattle’s top morning news show, she had booked best-selling author Dean Trust to talk about his dad, a fisherman who’d died in 1981 while rescuing a drowning teenager—a heroic father who was said to have inspired Trust’s latest novel. Instead, as the cameras rolled, Trust had blabbered about the Seattle rain and an idea for a script that he was hoping to sell. Rubbish!
Ava bit her bottom lip as she strode down the television studio hall and pushed open the door to her office, resisting the urge to slam it behind her. She scanned her stacks of files and notes and wondered if she should pack her things now. Returning the lid to the pen, she tossed it on her desk. It rolled off and onto the floor. With a swift motion, she kicked the pen under the bookshelf filled with travel guides of places she hoped to visit someday. Places rimmed with stories she would never hear. Heart-tugging segments she’d never produce.
If Ava prided herself on anything, it was that she knew how to turn seemingly small ideas into breakfast-time entertainment that refreshed people’s hearts. But all it took was one logjam to cause everything else to pile up—one babbling, unfocused guest—or at least that was her excuse today. But what about the last few weeks? Few months? It was hard to want to entertain and inspire people when her own heart was breaking.
Her cell phone buzzed in her pocket, and Ava hit Ignore. Yet another task-reminder.
She bent down to retrieve the pen, and her fingers brushed something else under the bookcase. A business card maybe? Pulling it out, her throat tightened. It was one of the photos of her and Jay that she used to have pinned on her bulletin board. She brushed the dust from his face with her thumb, and her heart clenched at his smile.
She blinked the tears from her eyes and before she could talk herself out of it, dropped the photo into the trash. It was the never-ending lists of tasks and calls that, perhaps, had cost her what she wanted most—a man who claimed to love her with all his heart.
Jay had seemed like the perfect guy. He was easy to talk to. He laughed at her jokes and e-mailed her funny YouTube videos. He encouraged her to find tales that would inspire people. He believed in her. Or at least she had thought he believed in her.
Ava refused to think about that now. Or about him. Right now she had to think about keeping her job. She’d moved to downtown Seattle to be close to Jay and had bought a condo she couldn’t afford, believing it would be their home together. If she lost her job too, everything would be gone. Then where would she go? More than that—who would she be?
A soft knock sounded, and Ava glanced up to see her boss Todd standing in the doorway. He didn’t say a word, but she noticed his tight-lipped grin and furrowed brow.
“I talked to Dean Trust last night,” she tried to explain. “He told me he was happy to talk about his dad and the inspiration for this novel...I...I don’t know what happened.”
Todd raised his hands. “Listen, I don’t want to burst your bubble, Ava, but even if he had talked about his novel, the critics are giving it a C− just to be kind.” He lifted his chin, which always seemed to have a five o’clock shadow. “You know what we need and what our viewers expect.”
Ava slumped into her leather chair. The pressure weighed on her shoulders.
“Obviously I don’t. Everything I’ve put together lately has been a fumble.” She glanced up at him under her eyelashes. “I have a worse record than the Seahawks this season.”
Todd nodded and ran his hand through his dark hair. He opened his mouth and then closed it again. From the pity in his gaze she expected the worst.
“Listen, even though we never want our personal life to affect our work, it always does. I tried to explain that to my boss—”
She stood, as if pushed from her seat by a spring. “I’m working on something. Something that’ll knock your socks off. Something viewers will love.”
Todd cocked an eyebrow. Then hecrossed his arms over his chest. “You want to tell me about it?” Even if he knew she was fibbing, he didn’t let on.
“Tomorrow.” She brushed her long blonde hair off her shoulder. “I have a few details I need to work out.” Ten minutes before, she’d assumed this would be her last day, but now she planned to stick around if she could come up with something good.
She glanced at the photo in the trash. You can’t take my work from me too. You’ve already crushed my self-confidence, not to men- tion my heart. You can’t have this too.