Angels of the Resistance
by Noelle Salazar
Interview by Diane Slocum
Sisters Lien and Elif Vinke are typical teenagers in the Netherlands in 1940, except for two great tragedies that struck their family. Their father and their little sister died not many years before. Lien feels responsible for her sister’s death and wants to somehow make up for it. Now, as their normal life of going to school and working in their mother’s shop continues, signs of the Nazi invasions creeping across Europe are reaching their country. Then they are there. The sisters are recruited into the resistance and trained for the most dangerous missions.
AUTHORLINK: What gave you the idea for this story?
SALAZAR: Thankfully, I have good friends willing to share stories they come across. In this case, my friend and fellow author, Jamie Pacton, emailed me way back in 2017 with a subject line that read “Write this book” and an article attached about the Oversteegen sisters who, at the tender ages of 14 and 16, joined the Dutch resistance and did a number of dangerous tasks, including seducing and assassinating Nazis and Dutch collaborators.
AUTHORLINK: How did it develop from there?
I began looking up everything I could about the Oversteegen sisters…”
SALAZAR: I began looking up everything I could about the Oversteegen sisters, as well as other stories of women in resistance work, making notes and creating my own version of the story.
AUTHORLINK: What did you do for research?
SALAZAR: A lot of reading! Articles, books, and then a trip to Haarlem, the Netherlands, to see the place these two amazing women lived and fought back in. It was an incredible experience to walk the same streets, breathe the same air, and imagine the atrocities and bravery that happened there.
AUTHORLINK: Besides the main characters, were there others in your story who were inspired by historical figures or who were actual historical persons (eg. the Ten Booms)?
SALAZAR: Yes. The Ten Boom family and their watch and clock shop really existed, and I am honored to have had the chance to tour their home, which is now a museum. Uncle Frans, or Frans van der Wiel, was a real man who did work for the resistance. Annie was inspired by the original red-haired girl, Hannie Schaft, an incredibly brave resistance fighter who suffered the same tragic capture and death, and Jan was inspired by her real-life love. As for the others, they are pure works of fiction, created to give the story depth and life and bittersweet moments.
AUTHORLINK: How did you feel about putting the girls through the extreme assignments they were asked to carry out?
“…to write well I need to put myself as deeply as I can mentally and emotionally into those situations. “
SALAZAR: To be very honest, it wasn’t my favorite experience. I find, for me, to write well I need to put myself as deeply as I can mentally and emotionally into those situations. I obviously couldn’t do that physically, but being blessed (cursed?) with a vivid imagination was incredibly helpful. And so I would sit in the quiet or sometimes with haunting music (The Haunting of Bly Manor by: The Newton Brothers was a fave) and mentally put myself behind a tree in the cold and dark, a gun in my hand. A dagger. The quiet draped heavily over me. I would choreograph the fight scenes by mentally putting myself through them, and how I would react. And I would conjure up the emotions, the fear, the sadness, creating trauma – all of which brought up trauma from my own past. It was, in a word, terrible. But also necessary to bring a realness to the story. I regret nothing.
AUTHORLINK: What do you enjoy most about writing? Least?
“I love being surprised by my characters.”
SALAZAR: I love getting lost in a scene. I love being surprised by my characters. I love making myself laugh and cry. I love getting to share these imaginary friends that live in my brain until I find a story for them to take part in. What do I like least? The business side of it. It’s daunting and uncertain and can make me freeze with worry at times. Will the next book sell? How will it be received? It’s not an easy job in that respect. It’s like pulling out your heart, setting it on a busy street, and praying it doesn’t get splattered.
AUTHORLINK: How did writing and selling your second book differ from the first?
“I wrote and worked on my first book for years before I had an agent.”
SALAZAR: I wrote and worked on my first book for years before I had an agent. Looking back, that felt like a luxury. The second book was sold on spec. A pitch, a few chapters, and a deal was made. As well as a deadline given. It was a whole different ballgame. A ballgame that came with a pandemic, lockdown, and kids doing virtual school while I tried to create a story. Not easy. But, in saying that, I had an editor I’d established a relationship with already and she was an incredible asset when the first draft wasn’t quite it, and the second wasn’t much better. A true partner that walked with me every step of the way until we got it right.
AUTHORLINK: What is coming next from you?
SALAZAR: Ooh!! I’m very excited to share I’ve taken a departure from WWII to delve into 1920s Seattle. Jazz music, speakeasies, and a young seamstress trying to find her way in the world. I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest my entire life and it’s been fun delving into the jazz era here. Searching the musicians, the clubs, the way of life. Women were on a tear, the nation was post-Great War, post-pandemic, and looking for a release, while the government tried to keep everyone in hand. It’s been a blast!
About the author: Nicole Salazar was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. She has been a Navy recruit, a medical assistant, and an NFL cheerleader. Her first novel, The Flight Girls, was inspired by the team of female pilots who trained World War II soldiers. She lives in Bothell, Washington, with her family.
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Some questions we asked this author:
- What is your least favorite part of the business?
- What do you like most about writing and publishing?
- Where did you come up with your story idea?
How would you answer these questions? Leave us your comments at the end of this article.