Bad Love Strikes is your debut novel. You have a busy and fulfilling career as a radiation oncologist. Why did you decide to write a book?
As a preface to my answer, I have a funny story. One of my patients who works in the literary field recently came in for a follow-up visit and shared with me that she loved the book. She said, “You know what, Dr. Schewe, I know a lot of doctors who say they want to write a book, but I don’t know any authors who say they want to be a doctor!” So for me personally, I do enjoy writing and I’m one of those doctors who had many ideas for various books through the years. Most of those conceptual books have been about fighting cancer, coping with cancer or keeping your immune system healthy and vigilant. In late 2018, I read the true story of the WWII Phantom Fortress and quite literally became inspired to write “Bad Love Strikes” as a time-travel novel. When I say “inspired”, it was more like being struck by a bolt of lightning! I did about six weeks of background research and started writing on 01-14-2019. The day I started writing, I had the whole story in my head and wrote every day for 90 straight days – finishing “Bad Love Strikes” on 04-14-2019. I can honestly say, I wrote this book as an act of inspiration.
You are a World War II history buff, so Bad Love Strikes combines factual history with fiction. How did you come up with such a fascinating storyline?
The match that lit this fire, was me reading the true documentary story of the WWII Phantom Fortress. World War II was a truly amazing and formative time of global history – it was a war that enveloped our planet – few places were spared and when it was over, the stage was set for new world order. My Dad was a WWII army sergeant who served under General Douglas MacArthur in the Philippines. I grew up in a middle-class neighborhood in St. Louis, Missouri that was built after the war. It was a classic baby-boomer neighborhood! Every other home had kids and we all grew up playing and adventuring outside together (there was no internet, no cell phones, no social media, no video games). My childhood gang was my life as a youngster and we played together from sun-up until sundown. We all knew about WWII and themes from that era were common themes in our playtime, all our parents had just come out of that historic event and started having us, children. As the concept for “Bad Love Strikes” brewed in my brain, I desperately wanted to connect my fun and adventurous childhood gang to the Phantom Fortress for a historic rescue mission. I have always loved time-travel stories, I wrote school project reports about the Manhattan Project and the atomic bomb and also about the Holocaust. Somehow, I was inspired to connect all these dots from my life experiences and “Bad Love Strikes” was born!
Tell us more about the true story of Phantom Fortress aircraft.
The Phantom Fortress is a true story right out of the annals of WWII (anyone can Google “the phantom fortress” and it will come right up). It was a virtually new, unnamed, B-17G Flying Fortress on its third mission ever, flying out of East Anglia, England, to bomb Merseburg, Germany oil targets, including the most-highly defended Leuna synthetic oil refinery. According to reports, the plane was damaged by German flak (aerial explosives), lost engine power to one of four engines and had to drop out of formation and head home. On the way back, a second engine lost power and the pilot changed course for allied Belgium which was much closer than England. Once over Belgium, they could not maintain altitude any longer and the pilot put the plane on autopilot and ordered the crew to bail out. The crew safely landed and were picked up by British allies and returned to England. Unknown to the crew after they bailed out, the plane somehow restarted its failed engines, flew itself to a friendly, allied airbase in Kortenberg, Belgium, and safely landed there all by itself. One of the engines was damaged on landing, but the other three engines kept running and no one exited the plane. The British troops on the ground waited a good 20 minutes, but the plane’s engines remained running. A brave British officer finally went out to the plane to investigate. Once on board, he found the plane empty and had to turn the engines off by trial and error. There were parachutes on board, leather flight jackets on the floors along with open candy wrappers and signs of recent occupancy. The damage reports on the ground did not match the crew’s damage report. The plane became known as “The Phantom Fortress” or “The Ghost Ship” and the story made its way into the history books as a bonafide WWII mystery.