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From Biography to Novel by John Bell


The Circumstantial Enemy started as a request from my daughter to chronicle her grandfather’s war stories. The family had heard them and over again – tales of trials and tribulations as a young Croatian pilot coerced onto the wrong side of WWII in 1941. “If you don’t write it, Grandad’s story will be lost forever,” she had said to me. Her request was hard to resist; my career as a CEO of a large company had come to an end and I had taken on some consulting work that required a heap of travel and plenty of lonely nights in hotels. That afforded me the time to write. And so began my journey as an author.

With enough copies of his biography published for the family and a few generations to come, I thought I was done as a writer. Not so. I went on to pen blogs about leadership, strategy and branding on my website Three years and a hundred+ blogs later, I thought back to Grandad’s story, wondering if I could fictionalize it into a thrilling novel. After penning a few chapters, I realized that I was in over my head. I didn’t write another word for a year because I was reading everything I could get my hands on about how to write fiction.

After nearly ten years of research, writing, editing, rewriting, and seeking an agent and/or publisher, my novel was released in October 2017.

About The Circumstantial Enemy

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When Croatia becomes a Nazi puppet state in 1941, carefree pilot Tony Babic finds himself forcibly aligned with Hitler’s Luftwaffe. Unbeknownst to Tony, his sweetheart Katarina and best friend Goran have taken the side of the opposing communist partisans. The threesome are soon to discover that love and friendship will not circumvent this war’s ideals. Downed by the Allies in the Adriatic Sea, Tony survives a harrowing convalescence before being shipped to a prisoner of war camp in America.  But with the demise of the Third Reich, he considers the kind of life that awaits him in the homeland under communist rule. Will he be persecuted as an enemy of the state for taking the side of Hitler? And then there is Katarina; in letters she confesses her love, but not her deceit… Does her heart still belong to him?

The Circumstantial Enemy is an energetic journey to freedom through minefields of hatred, betrayal, lust and revenge. Rich in incident with interludes of rollicking humor, it’s a story about the strength of the human spirit, and the power of friendship, love and forgiveness.

About John R. Bell

John was born in Chigwell, UK and now resides in Vancouver, Canada. Before becoming an author of business books and historical fiction, he was the CEO of a Fortune 500 company and a global strategy consultant.

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