Thursday, February 17, 2011
Aztec Authors: Roger Conlee
Alumnus publishes fourth historical fiction novel.
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A man travels back in time to prevent a Japanese attack on Southern California; an American reporter risks his life to enter Nazi Germany during World War II; a pair of ordinary citizens tries to return a rare crown jewel to its rightful owner in Austria after the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunals.
These are the story lines in the novels of Roger Conlee, fomer Union-Tribune staffer and San Diego State alumnus. After a long career in newspaper writing and editing in San Diego and Chicago, Conlee turned his hand to fiction in the 1990s.
“I always thought I had a book or two in me,” he said.
In fact, Conlee has published four novels. His most recent, “Souls on the Wind” (Pale Horse Books), was released in December, and continues his literary fascination with military fiction, a fascination he cultivated while majoring in journalism and minoring in history at SDSU during the early 1960s.
Conlee’s previous three books are all prize winners. “The Hindenburg Letter” placed first in the action/thriller fiction category at the 2010 San Diego Book Awards. Three years earlier, “Counterclockwise” won the fantasy/science fiction prize from the same group. Conlee’s first novel, “Every Shape, Every Shadow,” was honored by the Military Writers Society of America in 2006.
Conlee considers “Counterclockwise,” the story of a theoretical Japanese attack on San Diego and Los Angeles, his most imaginative novel, but “The Hindenburg Letter” is his favorite. The title refers to a letter written to German Chancellor Adolf Hitler by Paul von Hindenburg, the German president who facilitated Hitler’s rise to power.
“Three of my uncles were involved in WWII. One was killed in the Battle of the Bulge and the other two survived. That war was a defining event in history. I wondered what it would be like for an American—with help from the White House—to sneak into Germany during that dangerous time.”
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