I'm excited to interview Mike Yorkey, co-author of The Swiss Courier. Even more exciting, if you leave a comment, I'll enter your name in a drawing to win a signed copy of this intriguing suspense that will not only touch the romantic at heart, but keep you on the edge of your seat!
THE SWISS COURIER
She’s risking her life to save a man she doesn’t know. But who can she trust along the way?
It is August 1944, and the Gestapo is mercilessly rounding up suspected enemies of the Third Reich following the assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler’s life. Gabi Mueller is a young woman working for the newly formed American Office of Strategic Services (the forerunner to the CIA) in Basel, Switzerland. When she is asked to put herself in harm’s way to safely “courier” a German scientist working on the atomic bomb project into Allied hands, the fate of the world hangs in the balance.
This fast-paced, suspenseful novel will whisk you along the treacherous twists and turns of a fascinating—and deadly—time in history.
“A gripping, fast-paced tale of love, loyalty, and derring-do set in the waning days of the Second World War. I enjoyed everything about The Swiss Courier . . . the wonderful characters, the rich atmosphere, and the truly exciting story. A winner!”—Christopher Reich, New York Times bestselling author of Rules of Vengeance
Mike Yorkey is author or co-author of more than seventy books, including the Every Man’s Battle series and By the Sword, a thriller set in the Mideast. He lives in Encinitas, California, with his wife, Nicole, and they spend part of the year in her native Switzerland. They are the parents of two adult children.
You've mainly written non-fiction in the past. What made you decide to write fiction?
Mike: I’ve done something like 70 non-fiction books, including the Every Man’s Battle series, but The Swiss Courier is my second novel. Why try my hand at fiction? Because of the difficulty. The Swiss Courier wasn’t something banged out while I was on a retreat in the Swiss Alps. The manuscript took its fair share of rewriting and editing, which is where Tricia came in, and the complicated plot had to come together like a Swiss watch.
What made you choose the suspense/thriller genre?
Mike: Because that’s my interest and my writing strength. Let’s put it this way: I could never write a romance novel. But I’ve always loved the big international thriller set in exotic locales with a big plot. I tried to write a novel that I wanted to read.
How long have you been writing? How did you get your start?
Mike: I’ve been writing full-time, for a living, since 1982, when I was 28 years old. I started at a weekly newspaper, moved to Focus on the Family magazine as their editor in 1986, and then left Focus in 1997 and started my full-time book-writing career. But it all began in high school at La Jolla High (San Diego), when I tried my hand at writing features and sports stories for the student newspaper. I really thought I was going to be a sportswriter growing up, which is why I was a Journalism major at the University of Oregon.
You co-authored this book with Tricia Goyer, who has four World War II-era novels to her credit. How did that partnership happen?
Mike: Five or six years ago, Tricia and I met online through the Writer’s View, a place where Christian writers, editors, and agents can gather online to bat around ideas and what’s happening out there. I had just finished writing my first novel, By the Sword, which is a Mideast thriller set in modern times about how Islamic elements in Iran want to take Islam back to its roots, which is conversion by the sword.
I was getting rejection after rejection for By the Sword, and Tricia helped point out why. I wrote and rewrote, and I eventually got By the Sword sold and published with Broadman and Holman in 2006. After that experience, Tricia and I started kicking around some ideas about a World War II novel, which was up my alley since I’ve always thought of myself as a Second World War buff.
Much of The Swiss Courier takes place in Switzerland in August 1944. Why Switzerland?
Mike: My interest in Switzerland stems from being married to a Swiss native, Nicole, for 30 years, and our more than two dozen trips to her home country. Back in the early 1980s, before our two children arrived, we lived one year in Geneva and six months in Zurich so that I could experience Swiss culture. I did a variety of things, from working in a sporting goods shop to teaching tennis at a large indoor club.
One of the aspects about World War II that I’ve always been fascinated about is how Switzerland figured into the global conflict. I read several books about Switzerland’s role during World War II. Although Switzerland declared its neutrality after the invasion of Poland, the landlocked country had to be military prepared to defend her neutrality since Nazi Germany had already invaded several other “neutral” countries, including Belgium and Denmark. I learned that the U.S. set up an espionage network in Switzerland, headed by Allen Dulles, starting in 1943. In fact, all the Allied and Axis powers had spy networks operating in Switzerland during the war, and there was a “war of wits” that made for a lot of intrigue.
So there are a lot of spies in The Swiss Courier.
Mike: You could say that. And a lot of double-crossing. As Tricia and I discussed plots, we came up with the idea of having someone with the OSS—the name for Dulles’ network—having to safely “courier” someone to safety from wartime Germany. That “someone” turned out to be a character named Gabi Mueller, the 24-year-old daughter of an American pastor and a Swiss mother who had grown up in Switzerland.
We also wanted to involve the Confessing Church in Nazi Germany, which were the group of Christians—underground, naturally—who didn’t go along with the Nazi’s efforts to exterminate the Jewish people, among other things. Members of the Confessing Church worked with the OSS.
Is The Swiss Courier more for women or men?
Mike: All along, Tricia and I wanted to write a good thriller . . . an action page-turner that women and men would enjoy reading, and we think we walked that tightrope well. There’s a hint of romance to involve women readers but more than enough action to keep guys engaged.
So who did what in the writing process for The Swiss Courier?
Mike: Tricia and I did the plotting together, then I took the first swipe at writing each chapter, which Tricia would read, comment on, edit, and give me direction. Although it was a total team effort, we did not take turns writing chapters, which I think would have been unwieldy. You really need one hand on the plow, someone cranking out the book and having the freedom to do so. Tricia reacted to the content and played the role of general editor, but believe me, her fingerprints are all over this novel, especially in the “relationship” scenes between Gabi Mueller, our heroine, and her Swiss boyfriend, Eric Hofstadler.
Were their any disagreements?
Mike: Surprisingly few. Tricia certainly had her point of view, but there was a nice spirit of cooperation. I will tell you that we had a major disagreement on how to end the book, which we got ironed out in the end. I can’t tell you more about the disagreement since it would spoil the ending of the book, but we butted heads. In the end, my point of view prevailed.
Where do you spend your time writing? Do you have a favorite place? A favorite time of day?
Mike: I write from home. Sure, it would be nice to have an office, but I can’t afford to be paying rent. For many years, I worked in a cubby-hole off a family room, out in the open, with a room divider. The last year or so, I’ve been writing in Patrick’s old bedroom, which is the best. I have more privacy, plus I’m not invading Nicole’s “space.” It would be nice to have a bigger house, but with Southern California real estate being as it is, we have to make do with cramped quarters.
Mike, thank you for being willing to come for an interview.
So, there you have it folks! Don't forget to leave a comment to be entered into the drawing to win a signed copy of Mike's book The Swiss Courier. For the drawing, be sure to leave your email address as follows: sandirog at aol dot com.