The Seventh of December
As bombs rain down over London during the Blitz, Major Tommy Haupner negotiates the rubble-filled streets of Bloomsbury on his way to perform at a socialite party. The explosive event of the evening is not his virtuosic violin playing, but the ‘almost-blond’ American who not only insults him, but then steals his heart.
The Seventh of December follows a few months in the lives of two Intelligence agents in the early part of World War Two. Set against the backdrop of war-torn occupied Europe, Tommy and his American lover, Henry Reiter, forge a committed relationship that is intertwined with intrigues that threaten the integrity of the British Royal Family and the stability of a Nation at war.
Neither bombs nor bullets manage to break the bond that these men form in their struggle against Nazism and the powers of evil.
The Seventh of December is the first novel in a series of the same name.
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Author Interview with the Managing Editor of Manifold Press, Farah Mendelssohn.
Why did you write this story?
The driving force behind this story was my wish to dispel the common myth that life for gay men who lived during the Second World War was one of fear, persecution, and loneliness, and that they lurked in the shadows as fighting men.
Before the Americans entered into the war in December, 1941, entrapment and persecution of gay men was not a normal activity for the police forces in any of the Commonwealth countries. Men went about their business, being discreet about their personal lives, with no one caring much unless it happened either in a public place, or involved someone with a public reputation. In those days appearances were what counted.
During the Second World War, gay men, both at home and in service, went about their lives as they always had done, by forming private networks among other gay men. The general consensus was “behave with decorum, don’t get caught, and you’ll be alright”.
I also wanted to emphasise the point that gay men were just as heroic and
capable soldiers as their heterosexual counterparts. Although this is a fictional account, it’s based on primary sources and uses the less sensational mainstream literature that already exists.
The Standards of Physical Examination during Mobilization, War Department, Washington – March 15, 1942, has much to answer for; mainly because of its documented military rejection for service on the grounds of homosexuality – devised to be, by the standards of the time, and by hard line bigots, a psychopathology, alongside schizophrenia and other severe mental illnesses.
Why do they fall in love?
The oral history of those who lived through the Blitz in the UK, and also those who suffered the horrendous bombing campaigns in Germany, all testify to the heightened awareness of urgency. There was a sense of getting on with romances, loves, marriages, and no leisurely time for courting, “as we could all be dead tomorrow”. Tommy and Shorty are from two different cultures who meet in a time of turmoil, perhaps wondering if they will come out the other side. The attraction may be driven by the desperate times, but to them both it certainly feels like “he’s the one I’ve been looking for.”
Kirill Troussov, the violinist after whom Tommy Haupner was modelled in my mind. He’s exactly how I see Tommy when i’m writing about him, and his violin playing isn’t half bad either 🙂
Goury Harbour in Normandy