Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Blending in with a Cult?


By Rebecca Cantrell





Hannah Vogel does manage to infiltrate the cult of all cults: the Nazi party. Let’s run through the cult checklist: overbearing leader, fanatical devotion, mind control, serious consequences if you leave, questions or doubts strongly discouraged. Yes, on all counts.

So, how did she do it? It helped that she looked like their ideal. She has the protective camouflage of blond hair and blue eyes. And, as a woman, she’s not taken seriously enough. Luckily.

The second step was picking a strong ally within the group. She partnered with Lars Lang, a high ranking SS officer. He was already accepted by the group, so she got a de facto acceptance too. This got her past the initial hurdles, but not without a cost. Lars is not always the easiest guy to work with: his loyalties are complex, he runs the risk of being found out himself, and the stress of living a double life cause him to act unpredictably, sometimes dangerously.

After that it was a matter of having strong nerves in difficult situations, learning to lie, and developing the ability to parrot back Nazi ideology with a straight face.

All those things served her well in “A Trace of Smoke,” “A Night of Long Knives,” and “A Game of Lies.” But in next year’s book, “A City of Broken Glass,” all those factors work against her.

Being Hannah is tough work.

14 comments:

Meredith Cole said...

Hannah does have strong nerves, Becky! I'm full of admiration for people who can infiltrate and still come out the other side with their soul intact--it's not easy.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Talk about nerves of steel! I love strong women in impossible situations. I haven't read the books, yet, Becky, but they just went to the top of my TBR pile!

Joshua Corin said...

Wow...her Michael Fassbender disguise is impeccable!!

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Meredith,

Thanks! I sometimes confuse my own pen names, so I suspect I'd be hopeless at multiple identities. And I think the hardest part would be finding good in the people you infiltrate and still having to turn them in. Luckily, I only infiltrate cults in my head. :)

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Thanks, Sue Ann! I put Hannah in so many difficult situations, I'm starting to feel guilty about it...

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Josh,

She does have some experience cross dressing, so I'm not surprised. Imagine how good her Michael Fassbender would be if they gave her the magenta Magneto helmet.

Farin said...

Poor Hannah has been through the ringer. The kidnapping scenes get worse and worse--although the one that always makes my skin crawl is when she gets stuck in the back room of the club with Rohm in the first book.

But I never think she's stupid for putting herself in harm's way because you've given her very clear motives. I like to think I'd act in the same way if I was in her situation.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Farin,

Thanks for stopping by!

That sticky room scene is a difficult one! In the first draft, I let her sneak out the back door with nothing happening because I really didn't want to spend time there. But, in the end, she had to stay and face him.

I wish I could be as brave as Hannah myself. I think I might be able to have the courage, but I don't think I have the acting skills. And I do try to make sure that she has very good reasons to be in those difficult situations, poor thing. It was a tough time.

Reece said...

The fourth Hannah book sounds intriguing. Looking forward to seeing what new troubles you have in store for Hannah!

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Thanks, Reece! It is my personal favorite (but that's always what I say about the most recent one, so maybe I'm not that objective). It's set during Kristallnacht, so the research was brutal. But, if Hannah needs to go there, I need to follow.

Michael Wiley said...

I can't wait for City of Broken Glass, Rebecca. Anyone who infiltrates a cult of any kind must have nerves of steel -- all the more so when infiltrating the Nazi party.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Thanks, Michael!

And acting ability and a strong sense of purpose. I think it's emotionally very difficult to be a spy or an undercover cop as you struggle with personal allegiances vs. professional ones.

I can't wait to see what my fellow 7 criminal minds do with this question during the rest of this week.

Really, it'll tell me who is safe to sit next to at the next Bouchercon.

Kelli Stanley said...

I'm continually amazed at Hannah's strength and resilience -- and her creator's skill and talent!

Brava, Becky--can't wait to read CITY OF BROKEN GLASS!

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Right back atcha, Miranda/Kelli!

That's actually a cool name. Kelli Miranda (she's Hispanic, works as a lawyer, dances tango in the evenings). Miranda Kelly (she's Irish, works as a professional jig dancer).

Hmmm....