I want to apologize to the author and blog tour organizer for failing to post this on time. It is totally my fault that I have not been organized with my bookish commitments resulting to completely missing the e-mails that was sent to me about the tour and totally forgetting this. I just realized that I was accepted to participate in this tour when I stumbled upon the e-mails about it hours ago. I decided to still post this on my blog even though it is utterly late for the author’s efforts in writing a guest post not to turn into waste.
by D.L. Jung
Genre: YA Historical Fiction/Action-Adventure
Release Date: February 2018
“There was a time when flying didn’t mean looking over my shoulder for death coming at me.”
World War II. June 1941. Hitler’s war machine turns to the Soviet Union.
Escaping her hometown ahead of the Nazis, 16-year-old Aelya Makarova seizes a chance to live her dream. Obsessed with flying, she joins a women’s fighter squadron to defend her homeland against the invaders. She’ll go faster and higher than she’s ever gone before.
But the harsh reality of Air Force life shatters her expectations and forces her to grow up fast. The squadron is split by petty rivalries, male pilots treat them like a joke, and the ideal country she thought she was fighting for doesn’t really exist.
Finally given a chance to prove herself in battle, Aelya is pushed to breaking point. With all her talent, the help of her comrades, and a lot of luck, she might just make it through. But will there be anything left of her humanity?
With fast-paced action and a heart-rending mix of humour and tragedy, Sparrow Squadron is an adventure novel for young adults that brings an overlooked episode of history to life.
Author Guest Post
5 Movies I Watched When Writing Sparrow Squadron
I’m a very visual person. My writing process is visually oriented. I think that comes from writing short screenplays in the past. I imagine how things look for my novel as if I were watching it as a movie. It’s no surprise that movies formed a major part of my inspiration in the process of writing Sparrow Squadron.
Some movies I watched for research. I watched many Soviet films of the era, and I hope that comes through in dialogue between the characters. I also watched other, less obscure movies, not so much for what they had to say about the setting, but to absorb their overall look and feel. Here are five movies that I watched for inspiration.
The Right Stuff (1983)
Aelya, the protagonist of Sparrow Squadron, is a dreamer. What she dreams of is space flight. There are few movies that capture the romance of flying and the possibilities of flight as well as The Right Stuff. The film, based on the Tom Wolfe non-fiction book of the same name, is about the early US space program. Watching this allowed me to get inside Aelya’s head, to get inspired by the possibilities the same way she does. It also depicted the camaraderie and tensions among a small group of elite pilots who probably thought of themselves the same way that Sparrow Squadron thinks of themselves.
Terry Gilliam (of Monty Python and 12 Monkeys fame) applied his boundless imagination to an authoritarian dystopia in this science-fiction classic. The regime that hounds the protagonist is marked not only by its brutality, but by its bureaucratic ridiculousness. Although the film can be seen as anti-fascist, many of its ideas could also poke fun at the Stalinist Soviet Union. It’s a memorable depiction of the type of paranoia and oppression that many people had to live through every day of their lives.
Come and See (1985)
I saw many films set on the Eastern Front, but this was the one I just had to include in this list. It’s an absolutely harrowing, gut punch depiction of the horror of war. There is simply no way it can adequately be described in words. Ostensibly, it’s about a teenage boy who joins the partisans against the Nazi occupation. But it’s a grim statement of what war does to people. Director Elim Klimov survived the Battle of Stalingrad as a child. Steven Spielberg reportedly screened this film before making both Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan.
A League of their Own (1992)
This one is kind of obvious. In fact, in some of my earliest notes, I wrote down “An Air Force of Their Own.” The film, also set in WWII, is about a women’s professional baseball league started up while the demands of the war threatened Major League Baseball. The story holds up well thanks to its endearing characters, who weren’t portrayed as noble pioneers and activists. They were just normal flawed human beings. The end credits scene, with a reunion baseball game played by the actual women of the league packed an emotional wallop. The friendship they’d built up and what the opportunity had meant for them really hit home.
Land and Freedom (1995)
The idea of answering a call to action when no one is expecting you to is very strong. To fight for what you think is right. To be shattered by the ugliness of reality. All of these things happen to the protagonist of Ken Loach’s film. He is an idealistic anti-fascist volunteer who leaves Ireland to fight in the Spanish Civil War. The protagonist and his comrades fight against both fascist enemies and betrayal by the Stalinists on their own side, which is something the characters of Sparrow Squadron can relate to.
DL Jung has been an enthusiastic student of history since grade school, when he spent lazy afternoons flipping through an old Encyclopedia Britannica set. He enjoys blogging about history and writing historical fiction. He also writes fantasy and horror fiction as Darius Jung.
Jung is married, with two children, and lives in Toronto, Canada. They are lucky enough to spend part of the time in New Zealand. Outside of writing, he has tried stints as an industrial engineer, a film and TV script supervisor, an IT consultant, a professional game show contestant, and a grossly under-qualified business wear model. Sparrow Squadron is his debut novel.
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