Parkite Glenn Dyer pens war-time novel
On Nov. 8, 1942, United States and British troops launched Operation Torch, an invasion of Vichy French North Africa that would not only trap German General Erwin Rommel’s forces from the east and west, but also introduce the U.S. to the struggle against Nazi Germany, Italy and Vichy France via the Mediterranean theater.
Before the launch of the operation, the plans that were to be microfilmed and included in General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s war diary had gone missing. If these pages had fallen into the wrong hands, the invasion may not have happened.
This is the premise of Parkite Glenn Dyer’s debut historical fiction novel, “Torch Betrayal,” that is available in ebook and paperback at Amazon.com.
Dyer, who is a World War II buff and former vice president and general manager of KSTU Fox 13, said he got the idea to write the story after reading the memoir, “My Three Years with Eisenhower,” by Captain Harry C. Butcher, who was the general’s Naval Aide.
“I came across an entry about a missing page from Eisenhower’s diary,” Dyer told The Park Record. “[Butcher] was involved in the process of microfilming documents to include in the wartime diary. During this microfilming process, the page was lost, and history has recorded that this page was never found.”
The catch, Dyer said, is although there is no record of the page being found, Operation Torch did go as planned.
“The fact that the invasion happened clicked something in me that said they either knew where the page was or found it,” he said. “So I decided to create a story about someone assigned to find the page. This is my story to fill in the gap that history didn’t record.”
“Torch Betrayal” is about Conor Thorn, an agent with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), who is assigned to the mission.
The author imagined Thorn as a flawed individual who feels unworthy of other people’s sacrifices that affected his life.
“He’s totally made up, but I had to build the character from actual events,” Dyer said.
One of the events centers on the U.S. Navy destroyer called the U.S.S. Reuben James.
“In 1941 the ship was on convoy duty in the North Atlantic and was sunk before the U.S. got involved in the war,” Dyer said. “Conor wasn’t on the ship because he was with his wife who died in labor. The story is about him redeeming himself through finding this missing page.”
Thorn teams with British MI6 agent Emily Bright, another fictional character, for the mission, Dyer said.
“Although these characters are made up, they have their own biographies, like the real characters I used,” he said.
Real historical figures who appear in the book include British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and British spy Kim Philby.
“Kim was a double agent from Russia who went undetected in MI6 for decades,” Dyer said. “I had to do a lot of research about his character, his motivations and his career in order to work him into the storyline in a believable manner.”
Even writing Churchill, whom many are familiar with, was a challenge.
“Did you know he hated loud typewriters?” Dyer asked.
In addition to character research, the author also had to look into organizations such as the OSS.
“I needed to know who ran the organization, how it started and the type of people who were recruited into the OSS in order to have my character sound authentic,” Dyer said.
This is only part of the challenge Dyer found while writing “Torch Betrayal.”
“When writing historic fiction, you’re already hemmed in, so you can’t create events to move your story because we know the events,” he said. “That said, you can move things a little for dramatic purposes, as long as you let the reader know what you’re doing. For example, I acknowledge that there are some places where I did compress time in order to heighten the suspense. And I think if you own up to that, the readers will forgive you.”
Dyer’s career in journalism helped with writing the book, he said.
“First off, I have a thirst for knowledge,” he said. “Secondly, while managing a news operation, you have a responsibility to gather and disseminate information correctly. And I think that goes into writing a book like this. That’s a carryover from my broadcasting career.”
Dyer’s fascination with World War II spurred him to write “Torch Betrayal.”
“One thing that is interesting about the war is that the effects of the outcome of the war is still being seen and felt and lived with to this day,” he said.
Dyer is also captivated by the scope of the conflict.
“There were very few countries who were not touched by it,” he said. “Even neutral countries like Switzerland, Sweden and Spain were hotbeds of espionage activities. Ex (prisoners of war) would pass through these countries to go home.”
Lastly, the war continues to inspire books and movies some 50-plus years after its end.
“I just saw ‘Darkest Hour’ the other day, for example,” Dyer said. “The film is about Winston Churchill, played by Gary Oldman.”
Oldman won a Golden Globe on Sunday for his portrayal of the iconic Allied leader..
While Dyer is interested in the major events during the war, he also wants to learn more about the more obscure narratives that can be found.
“That’s how I came across [“My Three Years with Eisenhower”],” he said.
Park City author Glenn Dyer’s debut novel “Torch Betrayal” is available now in ebBook and softcover form at http://www.amazon.com.
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