“Sangria Sunsets” is historical fiction interlaced with romance, personal tragedy, political upheaval, revenge and covert CIA activity. It chronicles the lives of colorful, well-developed characters searching for and finding lasting love in the aftermath of World War II. Within the pages, the reader will find mystery, suspense and crisis directly linked to political upheaval in Latin America, the Caribbean and Korea during the Cold War. Some quotes:
“We’ll get married and sit on the beach and watch the sun paint those beautiful sangria sunsets. We can be ourselves and let the novelists create the legends.”
~ Jovita Vasquello, April 14, 1955
“I have sinned and sought redemption. I pray our Lord Jesus gives me the courage to forgive you, the strength to graciously forget and the power to learn.” ~ Nora Throckmorton, June 1946
“Trade school, maybe. Not college. I’d rather work with my hands, like a man should.”
~Alexander Throckmorton, June 1946
“This here … all this, all around us, this war … it’s us. It’s our lives. This is who we are right now. We can’t escape the cold, hard reality of our situation.”
~Katherine Dobbs, January 1952
“Your brother and I were in love. It wasn’t the kind of romantic love that poets write about, or one of them soul-deep loves you see in the pictures, but it was a caring, enduring love-friendship or something like that. We loved each honestly, right up until the day he was shot and killed.”
~ Eloisa Throckmorton, December 1952
“Live American. Dream Puerto Rican.”
~ Carilla Pérez de Vasquello, July 1936
“Living and working here … is a helluva lot easier than pretending to be somebody else for somebody else’s sake.”
~ Nicholas Throckmorton, July 1960
“I don’t think I could trust a man who didn’t cheat or drink.”
~ Jovita Vasquello, October 1953
The author spent six years recounting the history of the Throckmorton family and the events that influenced their lives.
He discovered that the actors on life’s stage enjoy unscripted roles and are free to rewrite the screenplay and send the story in unknown directions. At any given time, a character may even forget his or her lines and improvise.
Throughout the fabric of all families, there are threads that tie everyone together. Occasionally, these connecting fibers are worn threadbare by distance, or so badly blurred by time that they can be difficult to see or touch. Yet, every now and again, these fibers can unexpectedly reappear. Like the filaments running through a spider’s web, you are surprised each time you walk into one. They are invisible until reflecting sunlight, shimmering moonlight or the morning dew causes them to glisten.
With help from his wife, editor, his readers and every character in the Throckmorton novels, the author has endeavored to illuminate as many silky threads as possible.
This is book #6 in the Throckmorton Series, and like all the others it can be enjoyed on a stand-alone basis.
4 **** stars
|I enjoyed this book that is the most recent saga in the lives of Nicolas Throckmorton and those connected to him. Some of them don’t know each other, but there is an invisible continuous thread that runs through each connection, which I loved that, and at the end it comes full circle. Romantic, and historic…. Mr. Hackemer researched the details for the backdrop of the story very well. There is a glossary to refer to when encountering words or phrases not heard often in our modern day, as well as a reference section that one can consult to get mini-history lessons on whatever was mentioned. It was fascinating how the author was able to take these historic events and craft an intricate involved fictional story around and through them. It is suspenseful, dealing with parts of WWII, CIA and covert operations, affairs, broken and unhappy marriages, betrayal, murder…. it is all there! I must read the first #1-5 to understand more of the earlier story of the Throckmorton line.
I wish to thank Mr. Hackemer for giving me a copy of his book to read for an honest review.
Read for twogalsandabook.com
3 *** stars
This is a historical fiction genre-bender that artfully blends together romances, dramas, and spy thrillers into one little package. This is a book from the middle of a series, yet it is thoroughly readable as a stand-alone novel. It takes place around the world, and covers the years from 1937 to 1960, but mainly takes place in the ’50s.
This is the story of Nicholas Throckmorton (a secret agent working for the CIA after he left the Air Force after WWII), and many other people known and unknown to himself who are connected to him in mysterious ways. Each chapter focuses on the life of a different character, and gradually reveals how that character’s life is inexplicably entwined with that of Nicholas. From Jovita, an orphaned young lady from Puerto Rico who tries to make a way for herself in the states, to Kathleen, a horse-loving young woman who finds out that horses aren’t all she loves when she meets a certain young man, some of the characters in this book may surprise you.
I loved the history the author went to great troubles to include in this book. There are endnotes, a glossary, mini-biographies of the characters, a brief encyclopedia of the aircrafts and warships mentioned in the book, and a thorough listing of historically-accurate songs to listen to while reading the book. (The author also was generous enough to give me a music CD with these songs on it as a special gift.)
However, I did NOT like the worldliness of this book. It seems that every female in this book ended up being pregnant because of somebody they were not married to, and every male was a philanderer. There was not a single wholesome character in this entire book. Nora, who was portrayed as a God-fearing Catholic, was as bad as the rest of them. Some of the love scenes were graphic, another thing that I did not like.
I would give the book three stars. Interesting concept, well-written story, and lots of intriguing history that I learned from the book, but the negatives took much of the enjoyment out of it for me.
Interview With Edward Hackemer:
twogalsandabook: Did you always want to be an author?
Edward Hackemer: It has never been my life ambition to be a wordsmith and it’s certainly not my vocation. I think of it as a hobby; something like gardening. To explain: rather than sticking a seed in the dirt and waiting for the fruit or flower, the ideas I put on paper either grow into a story or get deleted into the never-never.
twogalsandabook: At what age did you start writing?
Edward Hackemer: I wrote some bad poetry in high school and college and a lousy one-act play that came close to being produced. Luckily, the school couldn’t find the funds in their budget. Thankfully, none of that stuff survived my adolescence.
twogalsandabook: Are you an avid reader, and if so, have you always enjoyed reading?
Edward Hackemer: Avid sounds far too extreme. Like rabid. I read perhaps a half dozen books over the course of a year.
twogalsandabook: Do you have any favorite authors/poets/books? If so, do you feel that they have influenced your writing in any way?
Edward Hackemer: I enjoy stories that tease the reader’s outlook on life, pique the imagination and create should-of-would-of-could-of situations. It may sound nuts, but the Bard (or whomever Shakespeare was), Henrik Ibsen, Edgar Allan Poe, Ian Fleming, W.C. Fields, Ogden Nash and e.e. cummings are among my favorite authors … and not to forget … Zelda Sayre, because everyone knows that she was the muse behind F. Scott Fitzgerald.
twogalsandabook: Do you have a favorite place to write? Do you have any special writing rituals or atmosphere?
Edward Hackemer: I do 90% of my work in my office, sitting in an armed, four-wheel, air-ride office chair upholstered in a beige cotton-wool blend. Rituals? Oftentimes there is barely audible music in the background. The other 10% is done outside on the patio while watching the grass grow. Try as I might; I cannot control the volume of birdsong or cricket calls.
twogalsandabook: How do you deal with writer’s block?
Edward Hackemer: I think this is a trick question. If you’re “blocked”, you can’t write.
I write when I’m able to. If I can’t, I can’t. I simply wait until I can.
twogalsandabook: How do you handle negative reviews or criticism?
Edward Hackemer: Everybody is entitled to their opinion. Some people like red M&Ms and some people like yellow.
The best reviews come from folks who recognize the work involved in the creation of a believable and accurate story. When the reader is entertained and enjoys the story, that’s the icing on the cake.
twogalsandabook: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Edward Hackemer: Write what you know. If you don’t know it, learn it.
twogalsandabook: What ambitions do you have for your writing career?
Edward Hackemer: I’m happy now.
I enjoy my work and my reviews show that my readers do too.
Could I be happier?
twogalsandabook: Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself outside of writing?
Edward Hackemer: I’m healthy and happy. I love my family.
twogalsandabook: What inspired you to write “Sangria Sunsets”?
Edward Hackemer: I felt the need to tie a ribbon around the Throckmorton story and allow the characters to ride off into the sunset. Like Randolph Scott.
twogalsandabook: What first sparked your interest in the “big band era” (1930’s – 50’s)?
Edward Hackemer: I’ve always been fascinated and entertained by all types of music. From the long horns of the Vikings, the harpsichords of the French Baroque Renaissance (really!), Edvard Grieg, Bix Biederbecke, The Man in Black, Elston Gunn, and Townes Van Zandt to Nina Persson, I love them all.
Music is the pulse of life, no matter the era. A waltz is history written in three-quarter time.
twogalsandabook: How long did “Sangria Sunsets” take to write from conception until completion?
Edward Hackemer: From first word to last = One hundred fifteen days; December 2016 – March 2017
twogalsandabook: Did you have to do a lot of research for the book?
Edward Hackemer: I spend more time on research than I do at my keyboard plunking out words.
twogalsandabook: Did you hit any “snags” while writing/researching for “Sangria Sunsets”?
Edward Hackemer: Here I will expand my answer to Question Six: (How do you deal with writer’s block?)
I would define a “snag” as a “stall”. What slows me down is “location stagnation”. I back up, drop a gear and climb the hill again. Like me, the character simply has to move on. If my character is stuck, I force them to face the wind and keep moving.
twogalsandabook: Often an author hits a really interesting rabbit trail while researching for a book that they would like to include in the story, but can’t really find a place for it. Did you experience this while writing the book?
Edward Hackemer: Yes, I did. It happens often when I start diving into the history. The road can go off in a different direction, often on a tangent and far away from the desired destination. As a rule, I don’t allow these detours to change my course. However, if I can alter the time-line or location without creating too much havoc, I go ahead and get on the other bus if only for the scenery. My life isn’t hampered by a schedule.
twogalsandabook: What books/ resources did you find particularly useful in your research? How many websites would you estimate you visited/utilized while crafting this novel?
Edward Hackemer: My research is done online and I exclusively use a search engine that doesn’t track me or retain my information. The number of websites is endless. The information that’s available is endless. The time that can be devoted to research is endless.
I remember the dusty, beaten, ragged volumes of Encyclopedia Britannica in my high school library and the shelves and shelves of ancient bindings in the Reference Section of the Erie County Library and State University College at Buffalo. And it was all outdated when it was published.
Time changes everything. There is no such thing as a newspaper. As soon as it’s printed, it’s history.
twogalsandabook: What do you feel was the hardest part of writing “Sangria Sunsets”?
Edward Hackemer: The most challenging was describing the truth or the way things actually were, in a way that would not offend the sensitive, or frighten the skeptical reader.
twogalsandabook: I know this is #6 in the “Throckmorton Family Series”. Do any of the characters in “Sangria Sunsets” make appearances in the earlier books?
Edward Hackemer: All the main characters in “Sangria Sunsets” can be found in one or more of the other five novels. In each of the books, there are of course secondary characters that are unique to the individual story lines.
twogalsandabook: Were any of the characters based on real people?
Edward Hackemer: Characters: no
Character traits: yes. Some. (But I’ll deny it under oath.)
twogalsandabook: What was the inspiration of writing “Sangria Sunsets” from several different character perspectives and then tying them all together?
Edward Hackemer: I felt that each of the characters needed to have their individual story explained in separate chapters without the influence or distraction created by their co-conspirators.
twogalsandabook: How many generations of Throckmortons have you chronicled so far?
Edward Hackemer: Thoroughly: two. Incidentally: four.
Chronologically, the Throckmorton novels cover the span of years from 1927-1967. They were written in this order:
In a Cream Packard (1954), The Katydid Effect (1954-1967), A Bridge to Cross (1927), Dollar to Doughnut (1927-1934), The Flying Phaeton (1927-1946), Sangria Sunsets (1937-1955).
twogalsandabook: What inspired you to have Jovita from Puerto Rico, and end up in charge of a regional branch of the CIA at a time when most women were homemakers?
Edward Hackemer: Jovita needed to to be Latina, or a Puerto Rican. I introduced her in the last chapter of “In a Cream Packard”.
Jovita experienced abuse and loss as an adolescent and grew up under the guidance of her father, a career Army signals non-commissioned officer. The structure of military life formed her path through life.
twogalsandabook: Was Nick’s military service based on personal experience?
Edward Hackemer: Some of it, yes. Most of it, no. Much of it was based on first-hand accounts of family, friends or acquaintances. Again, I would deny it under oath.
twogalsandabook: The Western Union Telegram in the back of the book looks authentic…. did you create it for the story, and if so, how?
Edward Hackemer: I gleaned the text from actual Army Air Corps correspondence and created the image with Photoshop 6.
twogalsandabook: “Sangria Sunsets” has pretty in-depth history of Central/South America from the late ’30’s to late 50’s in regards especially to covert U. S. operations. Are you personally familiar with the region, as your descriptions are so vivid?
Edward Hackemer: A close relative and a friend relayed their personal experiences and local descriptions over the course of several years. Identities will remain anonymous.
twogalsandabook: It was good to have a nice conclusion to the book. In the next in the series (if there will be one), will it continue with the latter half of Nick and Jovita’s life together, or go more into the children (i.e. Alexander)?
Edward Hackemer: Time changes everything, but as of now, I have no plans to continue with the series.
twogalsandabook: If you could be any of the character(s) in your book(s), who would it be?
Edward Hackemer: Another trick question!!
Leopold Throckmorton. But I would ripen to age 83 rather than 38.
twogalsandabook: How many more books are planned to be part of the “Throckmorton Family” series?
Edward Hackemer: None are planned, but I have learned to never say “never”.
twogalsandabook: Has a trailer been made for “Sangria Sunsets”?
Edward Hackemer: No. I haven’t found the time. I’m busy working on “Phryné Isn’t French.”
twogalsandabook: If “Sangria Sunsets” was made into a t.v. series or movie, who can you imagine playing the main characters?
Edward Hackemer: Nicholas: Jon Hamm
Jovita: Jessica Biel
twogalsandabook: Who would you recommend to read “Sangria Sunsets”?
Edward Hackemer: Anyone who is considering the priesthood as a calling may find the story thought-inspiring.
(*Note– author here is not being serious– he is joking, but it is an inside joke, and to understand, one would have to read the book! LOL)
twogalsandabook: How many books have you written total?
Edward Hackemer: I have written six novels and one satirical farce. I am currently working on novel number seven.
twogalsandabook: Can we expect to see anything new soon?
Edward Hackemer: “Phryné Isn’t French” will be in print before summer ’18.
It’s the story of one woman’s journey through life during the years prior to, during and immediately following World War II.
Phryné Truffaut travels from Hollywood, California, to Rouen, Normandy and Margate, Kent to discover that the end of her rainbow is still just out of reach.
twogalsandabook: On the lighter side:
a) If you were to write an autobiography, what would it be called?, and b) If you had the power to eliminate any evil/problem from the world, what would it be?
Edward Hackemer: a)I would create it as a punctual period piece with exclamatory reference to a small, shape-shifting black dot with a curly tail in an apocalyptic world overrun by zombie androids created during the election of Ronald Reagan in 1984. My autobiography would be called “Comma Chameleon”!
b) I would wave my magic wand and outlaw the serial or Oxford comma.
(Note: I think he is comically referring to me (Stacy) as I am famous as a repeat comma offender, and my text is usually littered with them…. I just love the little guys!)
twogalsandabook: Are there any social media platforms where readers can connect with you on?
Edward Hackemer: Facebook as Alexander Throckmorton https://www.facebook.com/alexander.th…
Facebook as The Throckmorton Novels
Author website: http://www.edhackemer.info
twogalsandabook: Is there anything you would like to discuss that we have not covered?
Ed’s next novel Phryné Isn’t French will introduce new characters, locations and themes.
Currently, the story is in the typewriter of his mind … not a big old black Underwood or a dusty, old 1970’s IBM Selectric word processor, but a thought processor … a word wrapper and sentence scrambler … a metaphor mixer and paragraph parser … or something like that.
Edward Hackemer lived in Western New York for 55 years before retiring from government service and moving to North Georgia; roughly halfway between Atlanta & North Carolina.
His employment history runs from paperboy, dishwasher, warehouseman, and over-the-road truck driver. His life experience includes military, federal and county public service in addition to nearly countless trans-Atlantic trips. Ed spent several years overseas, is a veteran of the US Army, and is happily married. He met his wife in Europe, and upon relocation to the United States she became a proud, naturalized American citizen.
(What a nice word naturalized is! Although it sounds organic and environmentally friendly, his wife isn’t green. She’s a blonde.)
He is currently enjoying retirement with his natural wife, son, daughter (in-law), and two (grand) daughters.
During the writing of ‘Sangria Sunsets’, ‘The Flying Phaeton’, ‘Dollar To Doughnut’, ‘A Bridge To Cross’, ‘The Katydid Effect’ and ‘In A Cream Packard’ Ed not only drew from life experience and personal memories, but steeped himself in period music and culture: 1927 through 1967 popular music (jazz, blues, folk, dixieland and rock and roll), movies (silent & talkies!), television, as well as extensive research into history, contemporary mores, language, habits, lifestyle, retail products, services and prices.
Music and popular culture are the heartbeats of life. The stories are historically honest to the timeline of each of the Throckmorton family novels, with passing reference to relevant news and sports. Factoids, locations, institutions and trivia within the books were carefully verified and dateline authenticated.
To fill an informational void created by the Packard and Katydid stories, in January 2014 Edward finished the prequel to them, A Bridge To Cross, which is set during the Roaring Twenties. Next came Dollar To Doughnut and The Flying Phaeton. Sangria Sunsets became available in May of 2017.
Although the Throckmorton books are a series, each one can be enjoyed as a stand-alone story. The author hopes that readers will enjoy the stories as much as he enjoyed writing them.
Other Books By Edward Hackemer:
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Twogalsansabook.com would like to thank Author Edward Hackemer for providing us with copies of Sangria Sunsets, allowing us to do this fun interview and for generously providing a signed copy for a reader to win as well!