Friday, October 16, 2015

Author Interview, Excerpt & Giveaway - Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn by Linda Bennett Pennell

Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn

by Linda Bennett Pennell 


GENRE: historical fiction with romantic elements 



Casablanca, 1943: a viper’s nest of double agents and spies where OSS Officer Kurt Heinz finds his skill in covert operations pushed to the limit. Allied success in North Africa and the fate of the First Allied Conference—perhaps the outcome of the war—hang on Kurt’s next mission. The nature of his work makes relationships impossible. Nonetheless, he is increasingly torn between duty and the beautiful girl who desperately needs his protection and help. 

Sarah Barrett, U.S. Army R.N., is finished with wartime romance. Determined to protect her recently broken heart, she throws all of her time and energy into caring for her patients, but when she is given a coded message by a mysterious dying civilian, she is sucked into a vortex of danger and intrigue that threatens her very survival. The one person who can help Sarah is Kurt Heinz, a man with too many secrets to be trusted.



Kurt watched in dismay as the man in gray picked up his fedora and rose from the table next to the one recently vacated by the two women. This had to be his contact. The man had watched Kurt on the sly since he arrived at the restaurant. Moreover, the guy matched the description right down to the red pocket square in his suit breast pocket and the thin, pale scar running along his left jawline. Making a quick decision, Kurt pushed his chair back and tossed some cash on the table.  

"It's been interesting guys, but I'm calling it a night. Use this to cover my tab." 

"What's the rush, Heinz? We haven't even ordered dinner." 

"I guess my sins are catching up with me. It's return to quarters and bed for me." 

"You headed back with us on the return flight tomorrow?" 

"Nope, I'm here with the Old Man for the duration. You boys have a good trip." 

The street was nearly deserted when Kurt stepped out onto its glistening concrete surface. Misty rain created halos around the sparse street lamps and obscured most objects more than a few feet distant. Only the two women, Sarah and Agnes, stood under an umbrella waiting for a taxi. Kurt watched them from the restaurant's portico. Focused on their conversation, they seemed oblivious to anyone behind them.  

Glancing to his right, Kurt saw his man in gray scurrying toward the cross street. He stepped onto the sidewalk and crept along a good twenty paces behind. When his quarry slowed at the corner and looked back over his shoulder, Kurt stepped into the shadow of a doorway behind the taxi stand and waited. If this guy didn't want to make contact, he wouldn't appreciate being followed. 


Talking with author Linda Bennett Pennell 

What is your writing environment? 

I am rather flexible as to writing environment. Oh, heck. I’ll just admit it. I can write anywhere and at any time. My particular brand of ADD allows me to tune out the world at will. Sometimes I think you could fire off a pistol next to me, and if I am in full concentration mode, I wouldn’t hear it. This is very useful for writing, but it rather hard on relationships!

Who is your perfect hero/heroine and why?

My perfect hero is a guy who has strength of character and is confident enough to show his tender side. He cares deeply for family and friends. He is not perfect, however. In order to be a true human being, he must possess flaws as well as strengths. He is the kind of guy who may not always do or say exactly what you want, but he will never deceive or desert you. He will be there when the going gets hard. He’s a man’s man and a woman’s man all wrapped up in a ruggedly attractive package.

Which authors have caught your interest lately and why?

The most recent book I have read and enjoyed is The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I also liked What She Left Behind by Ellen Marie Wiseman.

What type of book have you always wanted to write?

Like many writers, I have dreamed of writing the Great American Novel. My hope would be that the book would speak to the world as we know it and the world yet to come. A pretty big dream, no? While this may smack of a certain level of hubris, I don’t think it hurts to dream big! Do you?

Top 3 things on your bucket list?

1. Return to the UK and Scandinavia to revisit old beloved places and to see the ones that were missed due to time restraints. So many wonderful places, so little time!

2. I live in Houston, Texas, a place that has two seasons: summer and not summer. I would love to see a true fall in all its blazing glory again. Maybe a New England foliage tour?

3. I would love to take a leisurely tour of beautiful scenery by riverboat or train. I’ve earmarked the Danube or Canadian Rockies for this venture.

How did you get the idea for this particular novel?

I have always been interested in World War II history and wanted to write in that era. Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn was originally entitled Wings and was about a ninety-day-wonder, as Army Air Corps pilots in training were known, and an army nurse set in Hialeah, Florida. It might have been an okay story, but it just wasn’t working for me. When a fellow author, who was also a WWII pilot, mentioned a friend who had been stationed at Casablanca during the war, I did some research and decided the First Allied Conference provided much more fascinating possibilities for murder and mayhem.

What is your favorite scene in your new release?

Here it is:

“I’m Heinz. What do you want?”

“Oh. It’s you.”


“From the restaurant on New Year’s Eve.”

Kurt was silent for a moment, then it came back to

him. “I remember. Sarah, right? You’re the girl who refused to dance

with me.”

A red flush crawled from her throat onto the apples

of her cheeks. “Yes. I’m sorry if I was rude.”

“I’ve been cut dead before. I got over it.”

The girl’s eyes glittered. “I’m sure you did. Are

you going to keep me standing here on the doorstep for

everyone to see?”

“Why? I’m not expecting company. Would it be a


“It certainly might if the people who tore my

apartment apart followed me here.”

Kurt looked into her eyes with complete attention

for the first time since opening the door. Whatever had

happened to this girl, she looked terrified and angry.

Not a particularly good combination for the covert

activities he and Phelps were up to.

Kurt made a quick decision. He stepped back and

pulled the door wide while raising his voice. “You

better come inside and tell me why you think what

happened to your apartment has anything to do with


When they stepped into the living area, Phelps had

disappeared. Kurt gestured toward the sofa and the girl

sat down.

Propping himself on the sofa’s arm, he looked

down into her frightened eyes.

“Now tell me how I can help you, Miss, uh…”

“Barrett, Sarah. US Army. RN.”

“Well, Nurse Barrett, what can I do for you?”

The girl stuck her hand in her coat pocket and

whipped out a scrap of paper that she waved in his face.

“By telling me what’s on this paper and why it’s so

important that somebody took a knife to my furniture.”

What are you working on now and when can we expect it to be available?

My work in progress is set in Miami and Havana. It features my history professor from Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel. This time she is chasing Meyer Lansky, a.k.a. the Mob’s accountant and a founding member of Murder Incorporated.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

When not writing, I sing 1st soprano with the Texas Master Chorale and my church choir. I also do volunteer work with my church and local arts organizations.

What is one interesting fact about you that readers don’t know?

I am asked this question rather frequently and my answer often leaves people more than a little surprised. At one point in my life, I had close personal relationships with real gangsters. Sadly, this is related to my work as a public school administrator. In my time, I have known primarily Latin Kings and Crips. The frightening thing is that once a gang gets its hooks into a child, leaving the gang becomes extremely difficult.

AUTHOR Bio and Links: 

I have been in love with the past for as long as I can remember. Anything with a history, whether shabby or majestic, recent or ancient, instantly draws me in. I suppose it comes from being part of a large extended family that spanned several generations. Long summer afternoons on my grandmother's porch or winter evenings gathered around her fireplace were filled with stories both entertaining and poignant. Of course being set in the American South, those stories were also peopled by some very interesting characters, some of whom have found their way into my work.

As for my venture in writing, it has allowed me to reinvent myself. We humans are truly multifaceted creatures, but unfortunately we tend to sort and categorize each other into neat, easily understood packages that rarely reveal the whole person. Perhaps you, too, want to step out of the box in which you find yourself. I encourage you to look at the possibilities and imagine. Be filled with childlike wonder in your mental wanderings. Envision what might be, not simply what is. Let us never forget, all good fiction begins when someone says to her or himself, "Let's pretend."  

I reside in the Houston area with one sweet husband and one adorable German Shorthaired Pointer who is quite certain she’s a little girl. 

"History is filled with the sound of silken slippers going downstairs and wooden shoes coming up." Voltaire   



Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel from Soul Mate Publishing

Confederado do Norte from Soul Mate Publishing

When War Came Home from real Cypress Press

Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn available 8/28/15 from the Wild Rose Press



Buy link for Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel:

Buy link for Confederado do Norte:  

Buy ink for When War Came Home:




Linda will be awarding $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.  Follow the tour HERE


  1. In the evening, would you rather play a game, visit a relative, watch a movie, or read?

  2. I also love stories about the past. The excerpt was really exciting.

  3. I enjoyed the interview and excerpt, sounds like a really good book, thanks for sharing!

  4. Great post, I loved the bucket list :).. I also want to take a train ride, preferably through Europe :D

  5. I enjoyed the excerpt, thank you!

  6. I really enjoyed your favorite excerpt. Thank you for the post and the giveaway!

  7. Wow! This book sounds like such an interesting and intriguing read! I really liked the excerpt and the interview. Looking forward to reading this book!