Stepping into another book genre is scary. I’ve written for M/M readers. I have written for F/F readers. Now, I am testing the waters with pursed lips and curled toes, about to plunge into the world of historical fiction.
In 1996, I took a trip to Europe where I visited London, Edinburgh, Bath, Versailles, Calais and Paris. I absorbed as much as possible, listening to the guides and reading everything within reach. When I arrived back in California, I had an overwhelming desire to write a story. A story that started in Paris. I began to write a story about a woman and a man who meet on a train.
Over the next twenty years I tweaked and torqued that story. I moved the characters from one country to another. Gave them one back story only to change that as well. I married them off to others and felt their pain when the marriages didn’t work. I kept at them. They remained with me every day, every year and every time I wrote something else. Finally, a story began to take shape that felt exactly right. I knew where the characters were going and what they were doing. You see, I knew them inside and out. I had spent over twenty years growing along side them. This story is all about them and where they decided to go; I only wrote down the words.
This is the story of six Americans. Government agents sent on a mission that began in the dusty offices of the Panama Canal Zone Closure committee in Panama City, Panama in 1979. Knowing all along that their cover as administrators for the committee was a thinly veiled attempt to keep tabs on the birth pangs of the Colombian drug cartels. The agents found themselves neck deep in intrigue and espionage. Treason at the highest levels of government leads them to go deep under cover in the rain forests of Costa Rica. Following the trail of guns, money, drugs and human trafficking that moved throughout Central America from Colombia to Honduras. Surrounded by Contra rebels, Nicaraguan Sandinistas and La Resistencia of Central America, the agents find a life among the trees and mountains that speaks to their inner hearts and minds. No longer US agents planted to keep an eye on the goings on, they become the Voices of Resistance. Training a rag tag resistance army of peasants and farmers to become the most feared Resistance Army in all of Central America. They were La Discordia – The Discord. And they were deadly.
Trying to find a publisher for such a major tome was too daunting a thought. The novel turned into three novels and I set out to independently publish them. Voices of Resistance takes us from the Eastern United States to Central America over the span of fourteen years–from 1979 to 1993.
The story begins in the administrative offices of the Panama Canal Zone Closure committee in Panama City. The year is 1979. Jimmy Carter is the president of the United States of America. Colonel Manuel Noriega runs Panama from the cozy aspect of a man behind the scenes. Drug cartels begin to flourish in Colombia. The guise of administrative officials allows a small group, one woman, Megan McLarren, and three men, Joe Miller, Bob Elkins and Mike Wells, of the Closure Committee to infiltrate a small group of Panamanians intent on saving the Darien Province between Panama and Colombia from being overrun by the drug labs. The group finds themselves on the receiving end of a kidnap attempt. Megan McLarren’s spouse, Mitch McLarren—a senior official in the US Department of Justice—is responsible for the kidnapping. The intention of selling Megan and her knowledge of the treaty to the drug lords in exchange for a steady supply of drugs to the US to be handled and distributed by Mitch. The kidnapping is thwarted and Mitch McLarren is tried for treason to the US. The failed attempt to take Megan McLarren angers her captors and they vow to avenge the action. The tale of how Megan was rescued by Joe, Bob and Mike is spread throughout the villages in the Darien by the natives who knew first hand the bravery of this team. A legend is born.
Book Two: A Cry in the Dark
Eighteen months later and the four agents find themselves back in Panama for the next phase of their mission. Joe, the one agent who had remained in Panama to infiltrate the Panamanian Resistance, is joined by his partner—and now wife—Megan. Bob and Mike meet up with them in Panama and accept the next step: to infiltrate and become members of the Central American Resistance, La Resistencia. Joe has been working with a small group of La Resistencia in Panama’s Darien Province. His contacts there aid the group in finding and joining the arm of La Resistencia in Costa Rica. The darker side of the US intelligence community asks them to provide proof that Noriega is funneling drugs, guns, money and humans, from Colombia through Panama and Costa Rica on to Nicaragua and points further north–eventually funneling the drugs to the United States.
The group digs in and becomes a unit of La Resistencia. They are joined by two other agents, Skip Thompkins and Jackie Dupré. The six of them, deeply embedded with La Resistencia are not only able to provide the intelligence requested by the government of the US, but become as feared and as formidable as any guerrilla group fighting against the Sandinistas. They find themselves drawn to the lifestyle and culture of the mountain peoples of Central America. Though they continue to provide intel to the US, they begin to relinquish their city ways for life in the rain forest.
For five years, the team remains on the radar of the Sandinistas and the Cuban/Russian element of the Sandinista elite. Hunted now by the Sandinistas and the Colombian drug cartel, the Americans risk their lives to keep the intel flowing to the US. In one critical attempt to pass information and obtain supplies, the camp where the Americans are living is found by one of the worst arms of the Sandinista movement. Megan, Joe and their daughter Nena are killed in camp. Facing possible repercussions from their relative agencies for going deep and off the grid, the four remaining members of the original six decide to return to the US with the remains of their family.
Book Three: The Legend of the Darien
It has been eleven months since Bob Elkins, Mike Wells, Skip Thompkins and Jackie Dupré returned from Costa Rica and deep cover for the US government. They are back in DC at desk jobs, separated by agency protocol. They are finding it hard to adapt to the life expected of them. All four are facing a crisis and in an effort to save himself and his family, Bob proposes that the four of them return to Panama and try to find a way back into the La Resistencia. To find a way to finish what Joe and Megan started in the Darien Province. Running guns and drugs out of the Darien and back to Colombia to keep the Province safe for the native Kuna peoples.
The CIA gets wind that Mike may be returning to Panama. The agency decides to make it another operation for the four operatives. Noriega has become a liability for the US. This time they are tasked with finding hard proof that Noriega is using US funds to traffic in drugs and guns. The four agree to go back down to gather intelligence for the CIA.
However, once they return to Panama, the four find a way to go back to the life of the mountains, living as the Kuna live, building an arm of La Resistencia in the Darien Province to keep it safe from the drug cartels and Noriega. The Darien is a magical place and the Kuna natives are a gracious and simple people. Their rituals and spiritual connection to the earth attracts the four, but it also attracts something else. The spirits of their dead family, Joe, Megan and Nena appear to them while they are in the Darien and they help the others confront their guilt and loss. The four agents become strong leaders of La Resistencia with a following up and down the Panama-Colombia border. The drug cartels of Colombia send their henchmen, the MAS, to find the so called Legend of the Darien, Joe Miller, not knowing Joe is dead. Mike and his team keep the legend alive and thriving by driving the cartel thugs back to Colombia.The intel that they pass on to the US leads to the invasion of Panama and Noriega’s subsequent arrest. The four remain in Panama for another two years and then they retire from government work. They make their home in Panama, quietly aiding their friends in La Resistencia without the sanction of the US.
Twenty-one years later the six Americans are finally recognized by the US for their efforts in Central America and are awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The four allow a reporter and a photographer from the Washington Post to visit them at their homes in Hialita, Panama. It is then that they tell the full tale of the Millers, Joe and Megan, and their efforts to protect not only the interests of the United States, but the lives of the native peoples of Central America.
As the sun begins to set, the four excuse themselves from the patio of their home to take a walk in the pasture. The reporter and the photographer remain on the patio and watch as they are joined by a woman, a man, and a child. The sun goes behind a cloud and only the four are seen. A trick of the sun, the reporter speculates, until again the sun comes out and the four are again seen being accompanied by a woman, a man, and a child. On a small hill on the edge of the pasture, is a monument. The local peoples are often seen visiting the monument on the hill. On this day, an older man and his grown son have come to see the monument. The older man sees the small group walking in the pasture. He nods and gives a little wave when the woman turns and gives him a smile. The man turns to his son. “Por favor, read the rest to me,” he says.
Below the names engraved on the monument is a single date, 23 Abril, 1986. The sentiment below the date was written in Spanish first, followed by English. The son reads:
‘They were known as La Discordia—The Discord. They brought anguish and fear to the foreign intruders though they themselves were not native born. The natives called them The Voice of the Voiceless. The freedom fighters called them Voices of Resistance. They lived their lives loving and protecting the native peoples of Central America against the tyranny of small men. They fought one battle among the many that were waged against the drug lords, destroying the airfields that were used to smuggle guns, drugs, and humans through the rain and cloud forests of our beloved countries. They died in each other’s arms, holding on long enough to whisper ‘I love you,’ one last time. They gave and lived a life of unconditional love and mutual respect. Here now, the earthly virtues rest under a sapphire sky, where the grass smells sweet and the sun rises to touch their faces with warmth.’
Voices of Resistance Book One: Deception’s Hand is now available on Amazon.com. It is available in paperback and Kindle editions. Book Two: A Cry in the Dark will be available June 2019 and Book Three: Legend of the Darien will be available August 2019.
The two characters, Megan and Joe, have been through many transformations. After many years of struggling to find their own voice, they are content with their story. I hope you feel the same way.