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Six Degrees of Jo Graham

A bunch of people have commented on how real the people and situations are in the Order of the Air, and a couple have wondered how we make history so real. It's interesting, because to me the Order of the Air is barely history! Unlike writing about something that happened thousands of years ago, writing the twentieth century is simple -- it's writing about things that are only at a few degrees of separation from my own life! If I were to play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon with myself and the fictional characters in the Lodge, it would only be a few steps to reach them in a whole bunch of ways. Here are some ways that you can connect Jo Graham to the real characters who appear with the Lodge in the Order of the Air.

Jackie Cochran (aviatrix, first woman to win the Bendix Prize, appears in Steel Blues) and her husband Floyd Odlum (financier, real life Howard Stark, appears in Steel Blues and Wind Raker) were good friends with Gen. Chuck Yeager (first man to break the sound barrier, Air Force general) who served at Edwards AFB with Col. Dana T. Moore (veteran of three wars, author) who is the uncle of Jo Graham.

George Patton (American general, appears in Steel Blues and Wind Raker) had as a chief liaison officer French Major Gustave Moutet (Free French officer) who is the father of Anne-Elisabeth Moutet (noted French journalist) who has been a friend of Jo Graham for ten years.

Beatrice Patton (author, amateur anthropologist, appears in Steel Blues and Wind Raker) visited Germany after World War II where she met Elma Edwards, the wife of Col. Raymond Edwards, who is the grandmother of Jo Graham.

An example from upcoming books -- Vice President Henry Wallace (Vice President of the US, noted Spiritualist, who will appear as Jerry's occult connection in Night World) was supported in his primary run for president by Henry Hay (early gay rights activist) who later founded the Mattachine Society with Frank Kameny (first openly gay candidate for US congress, gay rights activist) who Jo Graham met in her DC political years.

The hard thing in the Order of the Air isn't to make people real. It's to not get too close to real life in our portrayals of people who are living or their immediate loved ones! Yeager is still living, but he's already appeared in a number of fictional portrayals, including Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff, so I wouldn't flinch from having him walk on. But my uncle? Hummm. Anne-Elisabeth's father? Hummm.

In some cases we've already decided to fictionalize. For example, in Night World there will be an episode based on the experiences of my mother's college friend and her family's escape from Nazi Germany. However, my mother is long out of touch with her college classmate, who might be still living and might or might not want her college confidences in a book. Therefore we won't use her real name and we will fictionalize the events somewhat. This is even more important when it comes to real figures in the occult world, who often even today do not appreciate the publicity. While there are certainly people appearing who are based on real people, other than people who were open about their occult connections during their life, or who are public figures whose connections have been discussed in print many times (like Henry Wallace), we're going to fictionalize them. This also goes for a lovely old lady in Paris that my aunt introduced me to in 1991 and who I interviewed about her experiences as the confidential secretary of a certain English occultist living in Paris during WWII -- her stories about the Resistance, the paratrooper in the attic, and an unexpected visit from Hermann Goring will appear in the books, but her real name and that of her boss will not.

So the answer to how do we make things seem real is that it's usually hard to disguise the real things enough!


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 23rd, 2015 10:48 pm (UTC)
So glad to be included in the 6 Degrees!

(And Judith Krantz, whom I knew quite well when she lived in Europe, had a walk-on part for my father in "Til We Meet Again"!)

Edited at 2015-04-23 10:49 pm (UTC)
Apr. 25th, 2015 09:21 am (UTC)
But of course! :)

Your father may get a walk on here too. I'm sure he's standing right there in Diana's Hounds right before D-Day!
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 2nd, 2015 05:47 pm (UTC)
Re: Six degrees of reality
I just found this comment, so I'm sorry I'm so late responding!

I'm delighted you enjoyed Wind Raker. The next one, Oath Bound, is my favorite so far -- back to ALEXANDRIA!
May. 8th, 2015 01:43 pm (UTC)
Hi! I usually only lurk on LJ these days if that. But I have just found your work via a review of Windraker and have since read (or listened to) all of Order of the Air and Numinous World TWICE! So I guess I owe you at least a thank you for the enjoyment. :)
I am utterly fascinated by your world and what makes the Order of the Air so real for me is that much of it is so near to my family history as well. Not so much to the people (I think) but to the events that shaped both them and my (great)(grand)parents and therefore me as well. There is a medal of honor from Kaiser Franz Josef for one of my greatgrandfathers , so he actually cold have fought against them in Italy.
Much of what Stasi reveals (or Mitch guesses) reminds me of my grandmother (born in 1924 in former Yugoslavia) telling me that she changed nationality and the language spoken in school an couple of times when growing up. There was her fiance killed as cannon fodder at the end of the war and her having to flee after it and marrying my grandfather while fleeing and my mother being born in a refugee camp in Austria...
And once you get to Operation Eagle (yes, I read nearly the whole tag I think), it will reach my paternal grandfather as he was in North Africa with Rommel.
It has been 70 years since the war ended today but it informs the world we live in still.And seeing certain radical tendencies all over the world I just hope its lessons are enough to prevent the worst.
Not to end it on such a serious note, I just want to say how much I love your work! :)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )