Welcome to Harry Duffin with an excerpt from his latest book, Island of Dreams
Publication Date: December 2022 / 420 pages
@duffin26 @cathiedunn #HistoricalFiction #BlogTour #CoffeePotBookClub
In May 1939, when Professor Carl Mueller, his wife, Esther, and their three children flee Nazi Germany, and find refuge on the paradise island of Cuba, they are all full of hopes and dreams for a safe and happy future.
But those dreams are shattered when Carl and Esther are confronted by a ghost from their past, and old betrayals return to haunt them.
The turbulent years of political corruption leading to Batista’s dictatorship, forces the older children to take very different paths to pursue their own dangerous dreams.
And – among the chaos and the conflict that finally leads to Castro’s revolution and victory in 1959, an unlikely love begins to grow – a love that threatens the whole family.
Having escaped a war-torn Europe, their Island of Dreams is to tear them apart forever.
Here’s an excerpt:
Anna wasn’t there when Jose got back from the camp kitchen. He looked around. One of the rebels seated nearby nodded and pointed into the forest. The sound of one of Batista’s helicopters broke the quiet of the camp. It was lowdown, nearby. They all looked up, but the foliage of the trees was so thick it was impossible to see it.
Jose waited until the sound of the helicopter faded away, then picked up his rifle and went into the trees to look for Anna. She hadn’t gone far. He found her sitting with her back against a large banyan tree, whose perpendicular roots, growing upwards, looked like the columns of a tiny cathedral.
When she saw him, she got up, and stared at him.
‘Are you alright?’ he said.
She had the opened note in her hand. ‘Is it true?’
‘Are you really a spy for the police?’
‘What?’ said Jose, shocked.
‘It’s what the note says.’
‘What? That’s crazy…! Crazy…! Let me see!’
Anna moved away as he came towards her. Her hand moved to the butt of the pistol in her belt.
Jose stopped. ‘Anna, this is crazy! You know that Freddie fancies you. You said that yourself. He even told your mother! He’s obviously just gone mad. He wants to break us up…Maybe he wants you to leave and go back to him. I just don’t know why he said that.’
‘Jose, the note was from my father. He got the information from Hans.’
‘Hans met someone in Miami. CIA, they think. He said it happened in prison. That they threatened to kidnap your sisters, and take them away to be prostitutes in America.’
Jose looked at the ground, and then this way and that.
‘Is that true, Jose?’
Finally, Jose looked at Anna. ‘I wanted to protect them, Anna. The police can do what they want. I couldn’t stop them…Clara is just eleven years-old!’
‘Jose, why didn’t you tell me?’
‘There was nothing you could have done! You were only safe because you were with me…I didn’t want to do it, Anna!’
Anna was breathing deeply now. At first, she didn’t believe the note. She had to read it several times, to see what her father said was true. But she knew her father would never lie to her. He must believe it, and Jose had just confirmed it.
‘Did you kill Nico?’
‘No…I just suggested it was him. To take suspicion from me. Because of the police raid at your house.’
‘When you hid the printing machine. You knew it was going to happen?’
She looked at Jose, whose head and shoulders had slumped.
‘Did you plant the bomb that nearly killed Hans?’
Jose looked up at Anna, with tears in his eyes. ‘He was the obvious choice…because he delivered the radio. The transmitter.’
‘You planted the bomb to kill my brother?’ She took her pistol from her belt.
‘You’re going to shoot me?’
‘No. I’m going to take you to the camp. And let Ché decide what to do.’
Jose slowly slipped the rifle from his shoulder. Anna raised her gun, and pointed it at Jose’s chest. As Jose swung the rifle up, Anna’s finger tightened on the trigger. He put the muzzle under his chin.
‘I love you, Anna.’
The crack of the rifle bullet, shattered the silence of the forest.
Anna stared at the prone figure of Jose. He had fallen backwards, so she couldn’t see the gaping hole that had scattered his brains up into the trees. Dropping to her knees, she put her hands to her face and began to cry.
‘Oh, Jose,’ she muttered. ‘Jose, why didn’t you tell me…? We could have done something!’ she said through her tears.
Slowly, she looked up. They would have heard the sound of the shot in the camp and would come looking for them. They might be watching her now from the undergrowth, seeing what had happened before approaching her. She’d show them her father’s letter, and they would understand. But Jose would have been shot anyway. There was no way they could guard and drag a prisoner around, as they moved from place to place, attacking the army, and then hiding from them. Maybe suicide was the best way for Jose.
She got up and put the note in the top pocket of her fatigues. There was no way she was going to leave Jose’s body where it was, to be eaten by the forest animals. She needed to go to the camp and get them to help burying him.
Suddenly, the roar of the helicopter crashed through the leaves. They must have heard the rifle shot and come back to investigate. Then, she heard rat-tat-tat of its machine gun, raining death through the foliage. She dived for cover beneath the banyan tree.
There was firing from the camp, aiming for a helicopter. She felt the ‘whoosh’ of a mortar landing close by. The pilot must have given an army unit the co-ordinates. She knew she had to get away from the attack. Crawling on her hands and knees along the ground, she felt a massive shock-wave lift her up, and hurl her through the ferns. Then she was falling. Huge, stinging leaves and jagged branches slapped and tore her skin. It was a long fall, through damp air and silence, except for the silent scream in her brain.
And then, blackness…
Harry Duffin is an award-winning British screenwriter, who was on the first writing team of the BBC’s ‘Eastenders’ and won the Writers’ Guild Award for Best TV serial for ‘Coronation Street’.
He was Head of Development at Cloud 9 Screen Entertainment Group, producing seven major television series, including ‘Swiss Family Robinson’ starring Richard ‘John Boy’ Thomas, and ‘Twist in the Tale’, featuring William Shatner.
He was the co-creator of the UK Channel Five teen-cult drama series ‘The Tribe’, which ran for five series.
He has written three novels, Chicago May, Birth of the Mall Rats [an intro to the TV series ‘The Tribe’], and Island of Dreams, which will be published in December 2022.
Social Media Links:
Website: www.harryduffin.co.uk – Twitter: https://twitter.com/duffin26 – Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/harry.duffin.5 – LinkedIn: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/harry-duffin-b7030a47 – Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/duffinharry/ – Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/harry-duffin – Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Harry-Duffin/e/B005KR3E74 – Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4674467.Harry_Duffin
Thanks for the excerpt and good luck with the blog tour, Harry