James R. Benn
Writing the Billy Boyle World War II mystery series (published by the wonderful folks at Soho Press) has brought me an immense amount of joy. I've gotten to meet people in person and online from all over the world and hear their reactions, feedback, and most importantly, their own stories. In addition to the Billy Boyle series, two stand-alone books have been published by Open Road Media. On Desperate Ground is a WWII thriller in the grand tradition of Jack Higgins, and Souvenir is an exploration of memory, identity, sorrow and loss during the lifetime of a veteran of the Second World War. My idea for a historical mystery series set within the Allied High Command during the Second World War began with the first title, Billy Boyle, which takes place in England and Norway in 1942. The second, The First Wave, carries on a few months later during the Allied invasion of French Northwest Africa. The third, Blood Alone continues the story through the Allied invasion of Sicily. In the fourth installment, Evil For Evil, Billy Boyle voyages to his native Ireland. The fifth book in the series deals with the infamous Katyn Massacre of Polish Officers by the Soviets, and how the uncovering of that crime affected the war, especially Polish-Americans and the Poles in exile in England. It is titled Rag and Bone (from the Yeats poem). Number six, titled A Mortal Terror, is set in southern Italy and within the Anzio Beachhead, where Billy tracks down the Red Heart Killer, who is targeting officers of increasingly senior rank. Mortal terror deals with combat fatigue and the terrible effects of prolonged exposure to the not only combat but the rigors of winter in the mountains. Death's Door (#7) takes Billy into occupied Rome, to investigate the murder of an American monsignor within the walls of the neutral Vatican City. In the 8th installment, A Blind Goddess, Billy is back in England prior to D-Day and working to clear a black GI of murder charges. The Rest is Silence (#9) was released on 9/2/14 and features the disaster surrounding Operation Tiger, a D-Day training event at Slapton Sands in southwest England that went terribly wrong. The tenth Billy Boyle novel, The White Ghost, takes him to distant waters in the South Pacific. Number 11, Blue Madonna, finds Billy Boyle behind enemy lines on the eve of D-Day. Book #12, The Devouring, takes Billy and Kaz to the supposedly neutral nation of Switzerland, where they find the Gestapo, gold, and greed. The thirteenth novel, Solemn Graves, will be released on September 4, 2018. I live on the Gulf Coast of Florida and Hadlyme, Connecticut, with my wife Deborah Mandel, a psychotherapist and writer who offers many insights into the motivations of my characters, a good critical read, and much else. We have two sons and seven grandchildren. I'm a graduate of the University of Connecticut and received my MLS degree from Southern Connecticut State University. I am a member of the Mystery Writers of America, and the Author's Guild. I worked in the library and information technology fields for over thirty-five years before retiring to work full-time. I've learned two valuable lessons since I started writing which have helped me greatly. The first is a quote from Oscar Wilde, who said "The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of one's pants to a chair." The second is from novelist Rachel Basch, who told me "the story has to move down, as well as forward." Both sound simple. Neither is.