Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Spotlight on Rachel R. Heil, author of Leningrad: The People’s War (Leningrad, Book 1)


Leningrad, 1941. As Europe crumbles under the German war machine, the people of the Soviet Union watch. There are whispers of war but not loud enough for the civilians of Leningrad to notice. Instead, they keep their heads down and try to avoid the ever-watching eyes of their own oppressive government.

University student Tatiana Ivankova tries to look ahead to the future after a family tragedy that characterizes life under the brutal regime. But, when the rumors that have been circulating the country become a terrifying reality, Tatiana realizes that the greatest fear may not be the enemy but what her fellow citizens are prepared to do to each other to survive.

As his men plow through the Russian countryside, Heinrich Nottebohm is told to follow orders and ask no questions, even if such commands go against his own principles. His superiors hold over him a past event that continues to destroy him with every day that passes. But, when given the opportunity to take an act of defiance, Heinrich will jump at the chance, ignoring what the end results could be.

Leningrad: The Peoples War tells the harrowing beginning of a war that forever changed the landscape of a city, told through the eyes of both sides in a tale of courage, love, and sacrifice.

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Rachel R. Heil

I didn’t always want to be a writer. I actually wanted to be a professional ballet dancer. My bedroom was decorated with a ballet theme, and when I was little I would binge-watch the animated Barbie movies because they always incorporated ballet. I started taking classes at five years old and went until I was thirteen. Ultimately it didn’t work out, but I still have a love for ballet and have attended a few ballets in my home city. A dream of mine would be able to see one of the premier ballet companies perform in their native city.


Paris Ballet
Source: Wikimedia Commons

In 2008 my state’s major museum got to host the Titanic exhibit that traveled the country. The Titanic was the event that sparked my love for history, so when I saw the exhibit was coming to my state it was all I could talk about for six months. My parents took me on the second day it was open (alas, the first day was a Friday and eleven-year-old me had to go to school) and I looked at every item, spewing to my parents and sister a million facts about the ship. Only years later did my mom tell me how I had a group of other visitors following me so they could hear the stories and facts I was sharing! I was just too absorbed in the exhibit to notice.


Titanic Pigeon Forge

My favorite book is The Great Gatsby, and F. Scott Fitzgerald is my favorite author. In my final year of college, I had to do a senior seminar project. I wrote an essay and gave a presentation on how The Great Gatsby was Fitzgerald’s definitive book as opposed to Tender is the Night, the work Fitzgerald was seemingly most proud of. 


Source:  Charles Schribner's Sons, Wikimedia Commons

I’ve done quite a bit of travel. My family has taken many vacations together, and we’ve been to Disney World, Chicago, Niagara Falls, Washington DC, Boston, Seattle, New Orleans, Minneapolis, Fort Meyers, and Michigan. Internationally, I’ve been to Toronto, London, and Paris. Currently, we’re planning a trip to Ireland and a brief stop in London. I have plenty of more places I want to see, and I hope I can get back into it with the end of the pandemic. I don’t like my passport collecting dust.


Buckingham Palace

I am not much of a summer person. The heat and bugs are just not my cup of tea. While I enjoy a lazy day by the pool reading a good book, I’m much more of a fall and winter person, especially if I can stay inside during not-so-great winter. People tend to be pretty surprised by that as I live in Wisconsin, and our winters last a long time! But I love the winter and especially enjoy writing when it’s snowing.


Source: Wikimedia Commons

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Rachel R. Heil

Rachel R. Heil is a historical fiction writer who always dreamed of being an author. After years of dreaming, she finally decided to turn this dream into a reality with her first novel, and series, Behind the Darkened Glass. Rachel is an avid history fan, primarily focused on twentieth-century history and particularly World War Two-era events. In addition to her love for history, Rachel loves following the British Royal Family and traveling the world, which only opens the door to learning more about a country's history. Rachel resides in Wisconsin.

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