August 10, 2012

Writer Wrangler: Charles D. Martin

Please join us in welcoming Charles D. Martin
author of Provocateur.
He's here to day to share his inspiration for Olga.

To give you a little background, Olga is an ex-CIA agent who now operates the mail-order-bride program Nadia signed up with. Using her expertise, she then trains beautiful women like Nadia use their beauty and brains in running million dollar cons.

There were two real-life agent/operatives that inspired me to create the character, Olga, in my novel (a) Aline Griffith and (b) Nancy Wake. These women lead a dangerous life of adventure and romance conducting clandestine operations for the British OSS during 

Aline GriffithI met Mrs. Griffith at a State Dinner at the US Ambassador’s residence in Madrid a few years ago. I was fortunate to enjoy sitting with her during the evening and learn about her fascinating life. It is well documented in a book that she wrote, The Spy Wore Red, published in 1988. She was also known as the Countess of Romanones.
Nancy Wake: I learned about Nancy Wake about the time I started writing my novel, August 2011. Her obituary was published in the Economist. For your reading enjoyment, I have included it here.

Nancy Wake, saboteur and special agent, died on August 7th, aged 98 Aug 13th 2011 

CONVIVIAL, and not averse to a drink, Nancy Wake could often be found cheering up a cocktail bar. In the late 1940s, and again towards the end of her life, it might have been the American Bar of the Stafford Hotel, just across the road from The Economist’s offices in London. In 1940, when she was living as a newlywed in Vichy France, it could have been another American Bar, this one in the Hôtel du Louvre et de la Paix in Marseilles. It was a chance encounter here with an English officer, interned by the French authorities but that day on parole, which led to her membership of the resistance, and then to her role as an agent of the British Special Operations Executive in occupied France. Of the 39 SOE women infiltrated into France, 11 of whom would die in concentration camps, she was perhaps the most redoubtable.

From her earliest days, Miss Wake combined opposing qualities. She was disciplined, but at the same time a free spirit. In Sydney, to which her large family had moved after leaving her birthplace in New Zealand, she twice ran away from home. As soon as she could, she made her way to London, then to Paris to work as a freelance journalist. There it was her cheerful independence as much as her good looks that caught the eye of the rich French industrialist, Henri Fiocca, who would take her to Marseilles as his wife.

She enjoyed her new life of luxury while it lasted, but she was no flibbertigibbet. Soon after meeting the interned British officer, she was helping to get similar Allied airmen, refugees and escaped prisoners-of-war out of occupied France and into Britain. She took a flat, ostensibly for a lover, in fact for the resistance, sheltered men on the run and became a crucial part of the southern escape line to Spain, travelling all over southern France from Nice to Nîmes to Perpignan, with clothing, money and false documents.

Inevitably, she was arrested. Beaten up and questioned for four days, she revealed nothing. It was this steadiness and loyalty to her comrades that most appealed to the British officers who later agreed to train her to become an SOE agent.

Other qualities were evident by then. Her femininity was never in doubt. It helped her escape capture, not just because she could on occasion flirt her way out of trouble, but also because her Gestapo pursuers assumed any woman as skillful in evading them must be a butch matron (though because of her ability to scuttle off the Germans called her “the White Mouse”). When she was with the Maquis, silk stockings and Elizabeth Arden face cream were often dropped for her by parachute, along with Sten guns, radios and grenades. Yet she conformed to no stereotype, swearing in the vernacular in the coarsest of terms, living for months in the woods and fighting, in the words of a confrère, not like a man but “like five men”.

Her fearlessness seemed to come from a total lack of self-doubt. The certainty with which she held her beliefs—she hated the Nazis, having seen them whipping Jews in Vienna before the war, loved France and was intensely loyal to Britain—freed her of any sense of guilt. This in turn enabled her to act as though she were utterly innocent, even when claiming to be the cousin of an imprisoned Scottish captain, or chatting to a Gestapo officer with 200lb of illegal pork in her suitcase.

It was sheer guts, though, that got her over the Pyrenees in her espadrilles when the Germans were at her heels. And back in Britain in 1943 it was her character rather than her skills or physical abilities that got her through her training in grenade throwing, silent killing and parachute jumping. As for violence, she hated it—until she became hardened.

That began in April 1944, when Captain (as she now was) Wake and another SOE agent were parachuted into the Auvergne in south-central France. Their immediate job was to work with the local Maquis to cause as much disruption as possible before D-day five weeks later. Now the fighting began, and Captain Wake showed herself more than willing to take part, readily joining raiding parties, blowing up local Gestapo headquarters and ambushing German patrols.

She did not enjoy killing a German sentry with her bare hands, but she was unsentimental. Likewise, she saw the necessity of killing a German woman captured by some of her Maquis colleagues who admitted to being a spy. Though she had been raped and tortured, Captain Wake ordered her to be shot—or, if the captain’s later suggestion is to be believed, she herself shot her, since the Maquisards’ sense of honour permitted her rape but not her killing.

In spite of such horrors, and in spite of such feats as bicycling over 500km in under 72 hours to find a radio operator, Captain Wake was having the time of her life. She was still only 26, a woman among 7,000 (mostly) admiring men, carrying out daily acts of derring-do and reveling in a job she had plainly been born for. Although she lived with the constant possibility of capture, it held no fear for her, and she did not yet know that her husband, rather than betray her, had been arrested by the Gestapo, tortured and killed. Decorations galore—from Britain, France, America and Australia—awaited her, but life would never be as good again.

Though Olga took a different turn compared to Aline and Nancy, these real-life spies are amazing and worth looking up to. World War II is one of the bloodiest event in human history and just hearing about the Gestapo is enough to run shivers down my spine. These women's contribution to the success of Allied forces is immeasurable and even if I'm sure that being a spy is far from glamorous, one can't deny that it's truly exciting and I bet the adrenaline rush is incomparable. 

Thank you for sharing this, it sure added another fascinating layer to an already impressive story.

Charles D. Martin

“I love writing about strong, intelligent, independent women … they are
sexy and fun.”

Charles D. Martin grew up in a small Ohio town. His parents were poor, but by working two jobs, he was able to put himself through college – he studied 5 majors (physics, mathematics,
chemistry, electrical engineering and business) at Ohio State University.

Martin has been fortunate to enjoy much success in life. He had a distinguished career in venture capital and private equity, founding two highly successful investment firms that he
managed during the decades of the 1980s and 1990s. Currently he runs a hedge fund, Mont
Pelerin Capital, LLC, and serves on the investment committees of prominent universities.
Martin has extensive background in finance and technology, and has travelled to the exotic
locations featured in his debut novel Provocateur (August 2012). However, the novel itself
is more about the intrigue in the story and the alpha female that takes on dominant males and
conquers them.

Martin lives with his wife Twyla in a coastal town south of Los Angeles, California.

FACEBOOK: Provocateur-Book
GOODREADS: Charles_D_Martin

We are also giving away a signed paperback copy of Provocateur courtesy of JKS Communications and Charles D. Martin 
 open to US residents only. 
Click here to enter.


  1. These two sound like great people to help form a character from. And that has got to be one of the most interesting obituary's I've read - what a life she led!

    - Jessica @ Book Sake

  2. OOo spies , how intriguing:D My obituary will be not quite so WOW! ...gosh when you think about it....I must do something exciting...ha!



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