Background of Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn by Linda Bennett Pennell


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Linda will be awarding $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Background of Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn

When I first decided to write a novel set during World war II, I thought I would write a straight romance between a ninety-day-wonder, as pilots-in-training were called back then, and an army nurse, both of whom were stationed at the now defunct Hialeah, Florida Army Air Corps training facility. Even in the research phase, the book just wasn’t working for me. Fortunately, I was in communication with a fellow author who was a WWII pilot. He happened to mention a friend who had been stationed in Casablanca during the war. The movie Casablanca is one of my favs, so this naturally caught my attention. After some additional research, my hero morphed into an OSS officer with very unique skills and the nurse was transferred to the 8th Evacuation Hospital deployed to Casablanca.

My research revealed the critical importance of the First Allied Conference, which took place at Casablanca’s Anfa Hotel in 1943. It was at this conference that Roosevelt convinced his allies of the importance of accepting nothing less than unconditional surrender from the Axis powers. Stop and think about. Even that early, there were German generals and highly placed government officials who wanted to sue for peace. If Germany had been allowed to surrender with peace terms, it is conceivable that Hitler and his gang of thugs might have gotten off with serving time as POW’s and then let go to live a normal life. YIKES!!

A very interesting detail about the conference involves a small mistake. During WWII, both sides intercepted and decoded each other’s secret messages. The Germans knew the conference was to take place, but a translator made a critical error in it s location. He translated Casablanca, Spanish for white house, as the White House in Washington, D.C. By the time the error was discovered, it was too late for Germany to disrupt the conference. But for one small, understandable mistake, the world, as we know it, might be a very different place.

In writing Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn, I followed the time honored tradition of so many authors of historical fiction and played “what if” with the Casablanca Conference. I think spies, double agents, a murder mystery, and romance make for a much more entertaining read, don’t you?

Here is my Pinterest board for Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn. It contains many pictures that help readers visualize the novel’s setting and see how things looked in Casablanca in 1943.


Casablanca, 1943: a viper’s nest of double agents and spies where OSS Officer Kurt Heinz finds his skill in covert operations pushed to the limit. Allied success in North Africa and the fate of the First Allied Conference—perhaps the outcome of the war—hang on Kurt’s next mission. The nature of his work makes relationships impossible. Nonetheless, he is increasingly torn between duty and the beautiful girl who desperately needs his protection and help.

Sarah Barrett, U.S. Army R.N., is finished with wartime romance. Determined to protect her recently broken heart, she throws all of her time and energy into caring for her patients, but when she is given a coded message by a mysterious dying civilian, she is sucked into a vortex of danger and intrigue that threatens her very survival. The one person who can help Sarah is Kurt Heinz, a man with too many secrets to be trusted.


Enjoy an excerpt:

Kurt watched in dismay as the man in gray picked up his fedora and rose from the table next to the one recently vacated by the two women. This had to be his contact. The man had watched Kurt on the sly since he arrived at the restaurant. Moreover, the guy matched the description right down to the red pocket square in his suit breast pocket and the thin, pale scar running along his left jawline. Making a quick decision, Kurt pushed his chair back and tossed some cash on the table.

“It’s been interesting guys, but I’m calling it a night. Use this to cover my tab.”

“What’s the rush, Heinz? We haven’t even ordered dinner.”

“I guess my sins are catching up with me. It’s return to quarters and bed for me.”

“You headed back with us on the return flight tomorrow?”

“Nope, I’m here with the Old Man for the duration. You boys have a good trip.”

The street was nearly deserted when Kurt stepped out onto its glistening concrete surface. Misty rain created halos around the sparse street lamps and obscured most objects more than a few feet distant. Only the two women, Sarah and Agnes, stood under an umbrella waiting for a taxi. Kurt watched them from the restaurant’s portico. Focused on their conversation, they seemed oblivious to anyone behind them.

Glancing to his right, Kurt saw his man in gray scurrying toward the cross street. He stepped onto the sidewalk and crept along a good twenty paces behind. When his quarry slowed at the corner and looked back over his shoulder, Kurt stepped into the shadow of a doorway behind the taxi stand and waited. If this guy didn’t want to make contact, he wouldn’t appreciate being followed.

About the Author:

I have been in love with the past for as long as I can remember. Anything with a history, whether shabby or majestic, recent or ancient, instantly draws me in. I suppose it comes from being part of a large extended family that spanned several generations. Long summer afternoons on my grandmother’s porch or winter evenings gathered around her fireplace were filled with stories both entertaining and poignant. Of course being set in the American South, those stories were also peopled by some very interesting characters, some of whom have found their way into my work.

As for my venture in writing, it has allowed me to reinvent myself. We humans are truly multifaceted creatures, but unfortunately we tend to sort and categorize each other into neat, easily understood packages that rarely reveal the whole person. Perhaps you, too, want to step out of the box in which you find yourself. I encourage you to look at the possibilities and imagine. Be filled with childlike wonder in your mental wanderings. Envision what might be, not simply what is. Let us never forget, all good fiction begins when someone says to her or himself, “Let’s pretend.”

I reside in the Houston area with one sweet husband and one adorable German Shorthaired Pointer who is quite certain she’s a little girl.

“History is filled with the sound of silken slippers going downstairs and wooden shoes coming up.” Voltaire

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Buy Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel, Confederado do Norte, When War Came Home, and Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn.

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  1. Thank you for hosting

  2. I really enjoyed reading the Background of Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn. Thank you for sharing your research.

  3. What was your first job?

  4. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and, if so, how do you overcome it?

  5. Becky Richardson says:

    Do you have any hobbies?

  6. Linda Bennett Pennell says:

    Thank you for hosting me!!

  7. Rita Wray says:

    I have enjoyed the tour. The book sounds great.

  8. kim amundsen says:

    Enjoyed the excerpt.

  9. Eva Millien says:

    Great excerpt, sounds like a terrific read and I enjoyed following the tour and learning all about Casablanca Appointment at Dawn, Thanks for sharing and good luck!

  10. This really sounds like a great book. I loved the excerpt.

  11. Really great post! I’ve really enjoyed following the tour for Casablanca and can’t wait to read it.. thanks for sharing!!

    • Linda Bennett Pennell says:

      Thank you, one and all! I hope that you will enjoy reading Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn as much as I enjoyed writing it!

  12. Sounds like a great book!

  13. Sounds like a great book-can’t wait to read it! I’ve enjoyed following the tour and learning more about you and your book! Happy writing!

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