Daily Archives: August 20, 2018



The Fortress
by Madeleine Romeyer Dherbey


GENRE: WWII Historical



The war has not made much of difference in Alix’s life. Her father has seen to it that she grows up unaware, unworried, but safe in her tiny village under the cliffs of the Vercors. All around her he has built a fortress whose walls are impregnable—until the 27th of April, 1944. That day he makes a stupid mistake up on the cliff, and the walls of the Fortress start crashing down. Reality breaks into Alix’s life with unrelenting violence, unforeseen possibilities. From now on, every decision she makes will mean life or death.




Six weeks before D-Days, a thousand kilometers from the beaches of Normandy.

There are no generals in the French Vercors, just a handful of men and women against the Nazi war machine. They come from Bretagne, Paris, and Slovenia, and the villages up on the cliff. They are the Fortress.



When she looked up, the cart had rounded the curve, and the way ahead was wide open. In a minute they would leave the cliff Madeleine Romeyer Dherbey 14 behind. She stopped the horses and turned around, expecting to see her father on top of the log pile. “Papa?” she called. There was no response. Her eyes darted from one place to another. On the wall against the blue sky, behind the cart, down the road, as far as it went along the rock face. “Papa?” she called again. He was there a second ago…right there, he was standing right there…. “Papa,” she cried. “Where are you?” Then she saw Mikko, two paws on the wall, sniffing. And her hands started to shake. “Papa,” she said, but no sound came out. “Papa, come back.”

BookCover_the fortress


AUTHOR Bio and Links


Madeleine Romeyer Dherbey was born in the French Alps, moved to the United States twenty-five years later, and currently lives in the mountains of Virginia with her husband, two daughters, and Mikko.




Madeleine Romeyer Dherbey will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter giveaway



Tell us about you

I was born in a little village nestled under the cliffs of the Vercors, in the French Alps. Back then, I found it unbearably boring, and I couldn’t wait to leave, as far as possible. I was an impossible daughter, looking for the worst trouble I could get myself into, dropping out of high school, going in and out of horrible relationships, hitch-hiking throughout Europe before resuming my studies—for a year or two, until something dangerous lured me away again.

Then I came to America. With my high-school English and $176 in my pocket, I found a baby-sitting and house-keeping job in DC, and never looked back. I love this nation, so unlike mine in spirit, where one person can change the world, and everyone believes he can be that person. In France people trust the government; here, people trust each other, and that’s what changes the world. That American dynamism, the palpable energy that somehow compels us to try again, that is what makes this country the most individually—and spiritually—empowering place on the planet.

I go from Beethoven to Finnish death metal. Everything in between seems bland. My favorite bands are Wolfheart, Insomnium, Ghost Brigade, and Swallow the sun. Wolfheart is playing a small club in Richmond end of October. Can’t wait!

My best adventure was travelling through the Kheiber Pass with a bus load of Taliban fighters and a fake Afghan husband, a real Voodoo ceremony in Haiti. Our driver got possessed, it was awesome.

Hang out with one famous person

This is very hard one. I’m hesitating between Duterte, Pope Francis, Trump, and Clinton. Ideally I wish we could put the four of them in a room and watch.

What’s the story behind the book

In one sentence, the six weeks story of a small group of resistants in the Vercors mountains, as they prepare for action on D-Day.

Because it’s a Historical, part of the plot is a product of the political and historical forces that shaped WWII in France. There are in my past three uncles who were condemned to death for collaborating with the Vichy government, a puppet of the Nazis. Their sentences were eventually commuted to national disgrace, and ten years of forced labor—thanks to my father, who had fought with honor during the war and was able to litigate a lighter sentence with the subsequent political swamp of the liberation. My uncles had to leave the area to avoid being murdered, but we stayed. I wanted to do justice to the conflicting truths of men, women, families, rivals, religions, collaborators, communists, nationalists and simple French patriots during the Nazi occupation of my beloved Alp mountains. The plot is simply a way to let them speak for themselves.

But there in the middle of my noble historical mission, a love story was born, and once it takes roots, it drives the narrative. Marc has pledged his life to defend the Vercors, and he is a man of his word. It is with genuine distress that he discovers his attraction to Alix, and he fights it. The tension that builds between them, driven by irrepressible attraction and conflict, is shaped not by the violence that unfolds around them, rather than superficial sexual drama. That love story made the writing almost hypnotic for me.

What’s your writing process

Shock Top works best, one and a half, no more, and Finnish metal music. My favorite bands are Ghost Brigade, Insomnium, Wolfheart, and Swallow The sun. It’s as vast and brilliant as a Beethoven Symphony, thunderous but melodic, the perfect emotional outlet. And then, frozen expanses, Nordic lakes, white forests, it’s land’s end, after all.

The main characters

Either Marc or Alix, the two protagonists, two mismatched people who would have never looked at each other had the war not thrown them in a battle for survival and revenge. They meet at the edge of defeat and find in each other the strength to overcome. Marc, a complicated man who is a blend of all the men I have loved, their steely strength and emotional secrets—no masculinity is too toxic there—I have always imagined as Russell Crowe. I’m not sure who Alix is, the woman I wish I were, I guess, calm but passionate, intelligent and organic. Isn’t it why we write, to re-invent ourselves? I also love Angélique, a very emancipated woman who sees herself as an experiment for God to test man’s endurance to Evil. And finally, Lovrenc, the Slovene warrior, who can be cruel and tender almost at the same time, coldly rational and as superstitious as a medieval peasant, and insanely brave. All my characters are brave.

Who would be the lead actor

Ideally, a younger Russell Crowe for the Resistance leader, but I’ll take Chris Pratt, who is the right age and has the charisma.

What are you working on next.

A novel centered around the federal entrapment of a young teacher. I have been teaching for 13 years, and have a deep emotional connection with my special education students, as well as a fairly good understanding of how a public school system is run. The plot is very political, and politically-incorrect. Expressing political opinion in school is forbidden—really forbidden. Besides, the likes of me are pretty much underground. We recognize each other like Christians in Rome, with a glance and a rolling of the eyes. So being able to write the ins and outs of oppression in the public schools world, coupled with a the building of a fake terror plot by a branch of the federal government no one in their right mind should trust, was a bit of a catharsis for me. You will love it or hate it, depending on your allegiances, and who cares? It’s not meant to be commercial.

What advice for promotion for other authors

Serious? Don’t I wish I had the answer! Figure out who you are, what you feel comfortable doing, and do it. Use up your personal network, and radiate possibilities—one of my colleague’s favorite quote—from there. I don’t think there’s much of a point in rushing, you’ll make mistakes. Start writing another book, just to keep cool, and make one marketing attempt a day. An email, a letter, a flyer in someone’s mailbox, a talk with a stranger on the trail. Every opportunity can make a difference.

Favorite book

Under the Northern star by Väinö Linna, a Finnish author, naturally. A story of hard work, loyalty, forgiveness, and amazing courage during the ferocious civil war in Finland. Read it. Akseli Koskela will show you what a real man looks like.

Special talents

I don’t think I have any special talents. I’m very good at a few things, but not outstanding. Mostly I work very hard, and my morale is strong. My family is what keeps me going. Whatever I do, I do for them. If it weren’t for them, I’d be under a bridge in Bulgaria.

Which super power and why

The power to hold my mouth. Impossible, I know, but one can always dream.

5 things on your bucket list

-Pick up my daughters at the airport in two hours after four weeks away in France—can’t wait!
-Finish painting the hallway in wide yellow/grey vertical stripes. It was hard, but worth it the effort.
-Mulching the whole garden—not easy with my stupid dog Mikko’s teeth clasped into every fifty-pound bag. He tries to help, though…
-Get tickets for the Wolfheart concert in Richmond on October 28.
-Make my daily marketing outreach attempt. Leave flyers at the airport?

Web link

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