Thanks for hosting me, Grace.
I’ve always been fascinated by stories about WWI, and especially the Christmas Truce when soldiers on both sides laid down their weapons and celebrated Christmas together. Putting faces to their enemies made it difficult for these men to fight each other again, and many protested the fact. Those in command weren’t happy about this, so they split up those units, and ensured the war continued.
I’d been sitting on the idea for this story for some time, and someone suggested that I write it so it could be released around the 100 year anniversary of the truce. Dreamspinner asked if I wanted it released at Christmas, so of course I said yes.
I enjoyed writing the story, and exploring the characters of Aiden and Jochen, and their growing friendship and more. I was also able to incorporate my two passions of music and literature, which made the story extra special for me.
Every Christmas since I think of these two men and of what they went through, so it seemed the natural choice for a Throwback Thursday for December.
For readers who have already read On Wings of Song, or who want to read it, there is a short epilogue to the story on my website called Wintertide which you can find here: https://annebarwell.wordpress.com/one-shots/on-wings-of-song/wintertide/
An excerpt from On Wings of Song:
“I’ve seen it,” Aiden said quietly. “I wish to God I hadn’t.” He looked directly at Jochen. Jochen met Aiden’s gaze. He’d seen an echo of Conrad’s fire in Aiden when he’d talked about his music earlier that afternoon.
“Don’t die on the wire, Aiden.”
“I’ll try not to.” Aiden’s words were an empty promise. They both knew it, but what else was he going to say?
The red-haired man Aiden had spoken to about arranging the burials walked over to him. He too held a shovel, and he wiped perspiration from his brow despite the cold. “There’s going to be a combined service for the dead,” he told them. “In about ten minutes in no man’s land in front of the French trenches.”
As they made their way over, men were already beginning to gather, soldiers from opposite sides sitting together, conversation dwindling to a respectful silence. A British chaplain stood in front of them, a Bible in his hand, a German beside him. Jochen recognized him, although he didn’t know his name. The young man was only a few years older than Jochen and was studying for the ministry—would he ever get the chance to complete those studies?
Jochen and Aiden found somewhere to sit a few rows back from the front and joined the company of men. The German spoke first. “Vater unser, der du bist im Himmel. Geheiligt werde dein Name.”
The British chaplain repeated the words in English. “Our Father who art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy Name.”
They then spoke a few words each, some from the Bible, the rest from their hearts. Their congregation was silent apart from a few quiet “amens.” Jochen saw a couple of men wipe tears away. He was close to it himself.
Finally the chaplain bowed his head in prayer. When he’d finished, he spoke quietly to the man who had come to stand next to him. It was Captain Williams. He nodded and looked over the crowd, his gaze fixing on Aiden.
Aiden must have guessed what Williams wanted. He inclined his head in response and then stood. Jochen glanced between the two men, confused. What did Williams expect Aiden to do?
“Aiden?” Jochen asked softly.
Aiden smiled at him and began to sing. “O Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining….” He lifted his head, his voice strong and clear, each note building on the last to create something truly beautiful, something angelic. Aiden’s eyes shone; his body swayed slightly in time with the music. He was the music.
His audience sat in awe. Jochen could feel the emotion rippling through the men around him, tangible, as though he could reach out and touch it. He felt something inside himself reach out, wanting to be a part of it, to be carried along the wave of pure music, to grab it and never let go.
Where to find On Wings of Song:
Also found at Queer Romance Ink!
About Anne Barwell:
Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with a cat with ‘tortitude’ who is convinced that the house is run to suit her; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though Kaylee may be winning.
In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.
She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts and reviews for other authors, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes. She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance writers, and a member of RWNZ.
Anne’s books have received honorable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner up in the Rainbow Awards. She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical.
Where to find Anne:
Website & Blog: http://annebarwell.wordpress.com/
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sylvrebarwellhoffmann/
Queeromance Ink Author Page:
New Zealand Rainbow Romance Writers:
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