Monday, May 14, 2018


'The Road to Freedom'
--  by Author Shawn Pollock --
Post includes Book Spotlight,
Ten Behind-the-Scenes Facts
& Giveaway


In 1945, World War II is ending, but not in Germany's favor. Hans Kohler is a young Mormon German who knows more about farming that being a soldier. A worn copy of the Book of Mormon is the only thing that brings him comfort.

Captain Christoph Meier seems to be the perfect German soldier. His pristine Aryan features and strong family ties to the Nazi Party should have placed him at a far better post than this unit. Instead, he's leading broken veterans and inexperienced greenies.

When the Russians attack their unit, it leaves Meier and Kohler trapped behind enemy lines. To get past snipers, the Nazi SS, and the Russian Army, they need to use all of their skills, including believing that God wants them to survive.


A rumbling rose in the distance; it was harsh, mechanized, and unwelcome. He watched as a truck appeared in the west, coming from the town he had just left.

Only one.  

He sighed with relief. He could handle one, and maybe the driver could help him. He pushed himself upright and went to the shoulder of the road and waved. The truck stopped. The driver leaned over and pushed the passenger door open.

"Dobroye utro!" he said. Then, with a shake of his head, he said, "I mean, good morning! Do you need a ride?"

Christoph backed away, suddenly panic-stricken at the sound of the driver's voice. An instinct surged inside him--primal and violent--triggered by those words, that accent. He tried to push it down, but the anxiety ignited once again at the sound of the truck flaring again. His mind raced and his heart pounded. The driver had offered the ride in broken German, but "dobroye utro" was "good morning" in Russian.

In the late war, every German had learned to fear the Russians. He especially knew that fear. He had survived on it. And now, a Russian was here?

Something was wrong. Something was very, very wrong.

Author Shawn Pollock
1. The working title was The Last Fall. My dad came up with it and I never knew exactly what it meant, but it had a nice "end of the war" feel to it. It became The Road to Freedom during the publication process.

2. For sharp-eyed cinema buffs - One of my favorite film genres is Weimar cinema, which is German film produced between the world wars. As such, I've included a few Easter eggs in the narrative by making allusions to the following films: M, The Blue Angel, and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

3. Right after I decided to make Kohler a farmer, I happened to come across a news article about German dairy farmers in the city of Jemgum. I took this as a good sign and made Jemgum the site of the Kohler farm.

4. The character of Guy Baker was inspired by two of my great-uncles who served LDS missions in Germany in the 1930s. One of them was detained by the Gestapo and held in custody for a week. Nobody seems to know the reason why they arrested him; they may never have told him.

5. From first word to publication, The Road to Freedom took me nine years to complete. That's not nine years of continuous writing, of course. I didn't write anything for two years while I went back to school, and there were long stretches where I only wrote sporadically. I also lost a chunk of the story at one point, which really set me back.

6. The Russian movie Come and See, which depicts the destruction of a Belorussian village by the Nazis, affected me so much that I wanted to include a similar scene in my novel. I had it all planned in my mind. However, the story was the boss, as it should be, and things did not go in that direction. I did manage to make a very general reference to the Nazi practice of burning Russian villages.

7. Meier's appearance was inspired by this photo of an SS officer. I came across it as a kid in one of the World War II books in my grandfather's collection and always remembered it. I don't know who it is or what he was like (I'm betting he probably wasn't too pleasant), but I'm glad I could use his face for a good character.
8. In an earlier draft of the story, Brigitte was also named Sophie so as to create a sort of doppelganger effect between the two women in Meier's life. This ended up being needlessly confusing, so Sophie 2.0 became Brigitte. I named her after German silent film actress Brigitte Helm.

9. For sharp-eyed history buffs - I make unnamed reference to the following true events: a Nazi party rally in Munich in 1924, the execution of Masha Bruskina, the uprisings at Sobibor and Treblinka, the massacre at Babi Yar, and the Aktion Erntefest massacres in the Lublin area of Poland.

10. Meier's confrontation with Gottlieb and the 225th was very loosely based on the Vinckt massacre.

*****NOTE:  Shawn was my guest on 'Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic' back in February. If you missed our interview, click on this link to read more about this talented author and his debut novel:  INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR SHAWN POLLOCK

Shawn Pollock grew up in Cache Valley, Utah, and graduated from Utah State University with degrees in Professional Writing and Instructional Technology. He works as an instructional designer in the software industry. His short story, "Hats," won first place in The New Era magazine's fiction contest. Any time not devoted to work and family goes to cooking, reading about history, and participating in the League of Utah Writers. The Road to Freedom is his first novel.

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Post a comment on this blog post telling Shawn which of the 'Behind-the-Scenes' Facts shown above was the most meaningful or interesting to you. Two US/International winners will be chosen to each receive one ebook copy of 'The Road to Freedom'. Giveaway courtesy of the publisher, Cedar Fort, Inc. {Please note that if you are commenting using a Google account, you will need to type your email address into the comment box so we will know how to contact you should you be chosen as a winner! Thank you!} ***CONTEST CLOSES AT NOON, PDT (Pacific Daylight Time), ON TUESDAY, MAY 22nd.***

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-- Thursday, May 17th: Book Blast for 'Safe House'. Snippet and Sneak Peek of Book 2. Event Host is Singing Librarian Books.

-- Friday, May 18th: Blog Tour Stop for Author Mary Connealy's new release, 'The Accidental Guardian'. Post includes an author interview, book spotlight, and giveaway. Tour hosted by JustRead Publicity. 

-- Monday, May 21st: Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday Historical Fiction Feature: 'Beyond the Right Sea' by award-winning author, Lauren Wolk. Book Spotlight and review.

-- Tuesday, May 22nd: Book Blast for 'Rescue'. Post includes book spotlight, author bio, and $50 giveaway. Event hosted by I Am A Reader.

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  1. I found all interesting buy the most interesting was that you were dedicated for 9 years to get the book written.

    1. Thanks Kim! Hopefully the next one won't take quite so long.

  2. The most interesting was #2, the cinema Easter Eggs. I love when movies and books do this. It's like solving a mystery.

  3. I loved the interview. I love learning and reading about history pointing to the wars.
    Most interesting for me was#4 by the by did your Great Uncles service together?

  4. I find it interesting that it took Shawn 9 years to finish this book. It sounds fascinating, and I'm glad he didn't give up! jparkerwood at gmail dot com

    1. Thank you for posting your comments here, Julie.



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