“The secret Rescue”- is a story of a courage journey…The American writer, Cate Lineberry: “The secret Rescue”- is a story of a courage journey across not only a foreign landscape, but the topography of the Albanian human spirit as well”
( Interview with the american author of “The Secret Rescue” – Cate Lineberry)
Cate lineberry’s first book, The Secret Rescue is An Untold story of American Nurses and Medics Behind Nazi Lines, was and Edgar Award nominee for the best Facts Crime and #1 Wall Street Journal bestseller. This incredible books tells one of the most remarkable forgotten stories of World War II. Thirty Americans, including thirteen nurses, crash landed in Nazi-controlled Albania and British Intelligence officers. The riveting details of their narrative remained classified, the full story never told-until now. In November 1945, twenty-six American Army Airforces flight nurses and medics boarded a military transport plane headed toward the front lines in Italy to evacuate wounded and sick troops. The plane was caught in a violent storm and thrown off course and into the path of German fighter planes.Without a working radio or compass, the crew was forced to land in a wild, unknown terrain: Albania. Under Nazi control this brutal and poverty-stricken country was rife with chaos and danger. With the one gun among them, they began their months-long fight to survive. In the midst of a severe winter, the Americans faced life-threatening dangers: near –deadly German attack, hunger and sickness, and the constant threat of capture by the Nazis. Always on the move, the Americans hid at night with courage of the Albanian villagers, who shared what little food they had and risks death to help them. The stranded group’s only hope for rescue was putting their faith on officers working for clandestine British and American organizations.The daughter and granddaughter of nurses, the American author Cate Lineberry tells the harrowing tale of the survivors of 1943 plane crash in nazi-occupied Albania. Fear of endangering those who helped them led to the survivors to keep their story secret for years.The secrecy was to protect the Albanian people, Albanian partisans and Albanian villagers who had helped the American crew of nurses and medics, and to protect the means of escape for future downed airmen. After the war, Enver Hoxha became the ruthless dictator of Albania and the americans survivors were concerned that if they named the Albanians who saved their lives, they would be killed. The survivors later learned that one of the partisans who helped them,-Kostaq Stefa was imprisoned shortly after the war and was eventually executed. Now in this interview, author Lineberry tells us,- why’s- she wrote this tale of the uncommon bravery of everyday people— Americans and Albanians,—who faced extreme challenges during such a dark time in the world’s history. Everything in the book is true and was verified through interviews, personal diaries, official reports and newspaper articles.
Interviewed by Raimonda MOISIU
-It was nice to hear, that recently , you’ ve got your book published- “The Secret Rescue”. It’s really a delight to hear that you’re telling this story of heroism and courage of my Albanian people. It has been said, that your book proves to be a true story. Is this book based on true facts?
It’s been an absolute pleasure and honor to tell this story of everyday people— Americans and Albanians,—who faced extreme challenges during such a dark time in the world’s history. Everything in the book is true and was verified through interviews, personal diaries, official reports and newspaper articles.
-How much research experience did you do? What was useful about that experience for you?
I spent a lot of time researching this story to make sure I had as many facts as I possibly could to make the story come to life. I spent about two weeks in Albania retracing much of the group’s journey, combed archives in the U.S, England, and Germany, interviewed the one living American from the group of 30 who crashed in Albania, consulted military records and other accounts by the survivors who are now deceased, and interviewed as many family members related to the story as I could find.
-Where did you find your subjects? Was it hard to come up with things to write about? Where did this book begin?
I learned about the story through a historic newspaper article and was particularly intrigued by the American nurses involved in the story and the Albanian people who risked everything to help these women and men. The book begins when the American nurses and medics are on their way overseas to help evacuate wounded and sick soldiers in the Mediterranean. Half the squadron soon finds themselves on a plane in the middle of a violent storm. As they try to make their way to safety, they unknowingly cross the Adriatic and run into the path of German fighter planes. The pilots eventually find a narrow opening between mountains and crash land in Albania—a place most of them knew nothing about.
-Are there other friends who gave you ideas for “ The Secret Rescue” story?
A few family members read over the draft before I turned it in to the editor, and I had experts read over certain sections for accuracy.
– “ The Secret rescue” book, it has a particularly interesting structure. How did you come up with that structure?
I wanted readers to understand how these American men and women found themselves behind enemy lines so I start with them on their way overseas and provide background information on their training and their personal histories before the crash landing. The story continues to follow them as they encounter Albanian partisans and villagers who offer them help as they face German attacks, blizzards, and other hazards along their extremely treacherous journey. As Harold Hayes, the one living survivor, often said to me, the Americans never would have survived without the help of the Albanian people.
-What were your first impressions? How did you manage to get it published?
I was thrilled to find such an interesting World War II story that had been nearly forgotten over the years. My agent circulated my book proposal to several publishing houses, and I was fortunate enough to land with Little, Brown, a wonderful publisher and supporter of authors. I spent the next year or so finishing my research and writing the book and then turned it in to my editor at Little, Brown, John Parsley.
-Have you ever considered writing it in play for movie? Do you know anything about how to write a screenplay?
I think the story would make a wonderful movie. Hopefully Hollywood agrees.
-If this will be proved, how would you feel about “ The Secret Rescue” movie you’ve written, but somebody else is going to direct it? Do you feel that it will be yours?
It would be an honor to have the book made into a movie because it would allow so many more people to learn about how everyday Americans and Albanians showed their bravery and courage during the war. That said, film is an entirely different medium so I would expect it to be somewhat different from the book.
-Tell us about something about yourself? Where do you live? When did you first start to think about devoting yourself to writing?
I recently moved back to Raleigh, North Carolina, with my husband after spending 18 years in Washington, DC. Before writing the book, I worked at National Geographic magazine and Smithsonian magazine where I was able to pursue my passion for learning about culture and history. I’ve always loved to write both fiction and nonfiction and received my master’s degreed in writing from Johns Hopkins University.
-That wisdom must come from somewhere though… Were any of your parents interested in writing? Who encouraged you to write?
My mom was a nurse for 46 years and my dad was a neurobiologist. Both are great writers and have always encouraged me to do what I love. I’m pretty fortunate in that way.
-Why do you write? Writing what was inside of you rather than what you felt you should be writing?
Writing allows me to express myself, and nonfiction writing allows me to learn while I’m researching. I’m especially fascinated by history and the stories of little known people who have accomplished extraordinary things so it’s a gift to be able to devote much of my time to it.
Tell us something about other books you have written. What are you writing now?
“The Secret Rescue” is my first book. I’m currently working on my second book. Like this one, it’ll be historical-nonfiction.
A message for Albanian –American writers’ community?
The publishing world is a tough business but none of us can let that stop us from telling the stories that are important to us.
Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.
Interviewed by Raimonda MOISIU
August, 2014, USA