David Leroy did extensive research on the German occupation of France for his debut novel The Siren of Paris. This historical novel follows the journey of one American from medical student, to artist, to political prisoner at Buchenwald Concentration Camp during World War Two.
Read the excerpt below:
On the side of the ship, Marc could see a group of lifeboats that had made it free. Around the ship, he saw bobbing heads of men, and sometimes women, in the sea. “Who would lash a life vest on a dead man?” Marc pondered. In the distance, Marc saw the cruiser that earlier had been ferrying troops as it approached the now-overturned Lancastria. But, just then, another plane dived down upon the swimmers and fired into the sea. The plane dropped some kind of bomb on the struggling soldiers. Marc looked down the plates of the hull, toward a large crack. Through the gaping hole, oil spilled from the ship. He scanned how far the oil slick extended over the sea, and then saw that some of this oil had caught on fire. Marc watched as one man swam through the oil, trying to get out of it, as his hair caught fire. He screamed before disappearing into the black sea.
“Hand … hand…” he heard to his right. Marc looked and no one was there. “Down here,” he heard. He looked and there was a man in porthole calling for his hand. He helped him up and out.
Another man was behind the first. “Hurry!” he said. “Hurry!” The man he’d just helped from the porthole yelled down inside the ship, as he tried to help his buddy escape. Marc saw the water now rising up from the ship’s submerged bow. He started to walk backwards along the side of the plates and then turned toward the aft. The propellers jetted out of the sea. Marc could see men climbing over the railings near the aft section, and up on the now-jutting propeller shaft.
“Do you want to live?” a British officer asked Marc. He snapped out of what felt like a heavy state of sleep.
“Yes,” Marc pulled the words out of himself.
“Then strip out of those clothes. They are just going to pull you down,” the officer barked to him, and pointed to others just behind Marc. Marc felt like the words had passed through him, as he struggled to focus amidst the panic. All along the side of the ship, men busted through portholes and called help to climb out. When the water reached the open portholes, Marc heard the shouts and screams of men inside the ship. Marc took off his boots, shirt and trousers. The officer in front of him now stood fully naked. Others were stripping down, some naked, and some just no trousers on. Other men appeared like they expected to walk off the ship and across the ocean on some magical bridge. They were in full dress, and with heavy kitbags on their backs. Somehow they seemed unable to save their own lives; the idea of letting go of equipment was grounds for court martial. The ocean continued to climb the side of the ship. The cruiser had moved away a bit from the scene to avoid the planes diving from above. Marc slipped out of his underwear and got done folding his clothing. He stacked it neatly on the side of the ship, as if he were just going for a swim and was going to come back later to dress for dinner. “Are you ready?” the officer called over the yelling to Marc.
“For what?” Marc thought the words first and then had to force himself to say them.
“To jump into the sea. We need to get away from the ship so it does not pull us down,” the officer yelled. Just then, across the sea of broken bodies, lifeboats, and shouting men, coming from within busted-out portholes came a chorus of rowdy British men singing out “Roll out the Barrel.” They perched themselves along the protruding starboard side propeller shaft. The voices seemed to be disconnected from the scene. Marc looked out upon a dark sea of oil mixed with swimmers, bodies, smoke, and broken lifeboats.
You can purchase The Siren of Paris in Kindle e-book format from Amazon -- http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0088CA098 and learn more about this author and novel at http://www.thesirenofparis.com/.
For more information about this virtual book tour, please visit http://bookpromotionservices.com/2012/05/22/siren-of-paris-tour/