THE BIG INCH
Genre: Historical Fiction, WWII
Date of Publication: January 19, 2017
Number of Pages: 344
Scroll down for Giveaway!
Kimberly Fish’s debut novel, The Big Inch, was released in February, 2017 and it reveals the lengths to which Texas oilmen, state, and federal governments would go to get Texas crude oil to the troops fighting their first mechanized war. With Nazi threats (and a steady stream of oil tankers sunk by German submarines) speed was necessary, as was OSS intelligence. The Office of Strategic Services was often staffed with female spies and Longview’s World War II efforts were critical for success.
Lane Mercer, sent to Longview, Texas in July 1942, is part of a select group of women working undercover for the fledgling federal agency, the Office of Strategic Services. Assigned to protect the man carrying out President Roosevelt’s initiative to build the nation’s first overland pipeline to hurry East Texas crude to the troops, she discovers there’s more to Longview than the dossiers implied. There’s intrigue, mayhem, and danger. Shamed from a botched OSS mission in France, Lane struggles to fulfill her mission and keep from drowning in guilt. Getting involved in local life is out of the question. Between family, do-gooders, and Nazi threats, she’s knitted into a series of events that unravel all of her carefully constructed, plans, realizing that sometimes the life one has to save, is one’s own.
PRAISE FOR THE BIG INCH:
“With an eye for detail, Kimberly Fish weaves a compelling story of a war widow who finds herself in Longview, Texas in 1942. Reading Kimberly’s novel was a bit like going back to a cloak and dagger time, and I enjoyed the local references. Longview was an amazing place to be during WWII.” -- Van Craddock, Longview News Journal, Columnist
"Kimberly Fish's unique writing style snatched me out of my easy chair and plunked me down into the middle of her character's life where I was loathe to leave when my real life called me back. Her descriptive visual writing drew me in on the first page. Can't wait to read more stories by Mrs. Fish." -- Vickie Phelps Author of Moved, Left No Address
At an outdoor lunch in the garden of author of Kimberly Fish. It’s an unusually warm February day and everyone gathered is up in arms about the azaleas that have bloomed due to the mild winter.
Louisa Jane Parrish Mercer says that this won’t bode well for the spring and that it’s a good thing they’re not still hosting the Family Trek garden tours in Longview. It would be a bust this year.
The interviewer, a man from the local paper who has read the novel and does have questions, sets his tea glass aside and pulls out a pencil. “Can we begin?”
LJPM: I don’t want to be here, and I’m not going to answer your questions.
I: Ma’am, I’m not prying into your past, our readers just want to get to know you better.
Zeke Hayes: He’s prying, Lane. He’s a reporter.
LM: I’ve said all I need to say in the Big Inch, if he wants to know more, he can just wait for the sequel. I’m pretty sure I’ll be forced into revealing more because that seems to be Kimberly’s M.O.
Zeke: Lane’s an obstinate one. (He chuckles) It’s no wonder she’s not swarming with friends.
LM: Like you’re an open book?
Zeke: I’m totally transparent, what you see is what you get.
LM: Like how you’ve told everyone how you moved to Longview in the first place, and why it is that you always seem to be in the right place at the wrong time?
Zeke: (Picks up a pork slider and holds it close to his mouth) Let’s remember who’s the main character here, shall we?
I: I seem to be losing the thread, why are you two arguing? Aren’t you in love with each other?
Zeke: I’m head over heels. (He chomps into his sandwich.)
LM: (Sips her tea.)
I: You two are in love, right?
LM: (She holds out her left hand) We’re engaged.
I: Yes, but as I recall there were a lot of loose threads left at the end of The Big Inch, look, why don’t we got back to what it was that made you fall in love with each other.
Zeke: She’s got a way of looking into a man’s eyes that make him think she sees his soul. It’s unnerving and liberating at the same time.
LM: (Touches his arm) That’s sweet, I didn’t know I unnerved you.
Zeke: Every day. I never know if I’m going to turn around and some shoe will drop and you’ll be gone.
LM: I’ve set down roots in Longview, I’m not going anywhere.
Zeke: Then why did I find a train ticket to California in your Bible the other day?
LM: I’m touched you were reading the Bible, but stop prying through mine and get your own.
Zeke: (Winks) You’d be surprised at what she hides in the Old Testament prophets. I think I found the Enigma code last week.
LM: (Picks up a sandwich and studies it’s pile of caramelized onions and pork tenderloin) I’m sorry, what was the question?
I: What made you fall in love with Zeke?
LM: That’s right. (She pauses.) I was attracted to him from the very start, I mean, look at him, he’s what the movie magazines call “ruggedly handsome.” (She studies Zeke’s profile) And he is, but I’ve seen a lot of handsome men in my travels from Georgia to Washington to France. It’s what in the eyes that make a difference for me, and since that evening we ate burgers at Lake Lomond, I knew that he was special. Zeke has a laughter in his soul that can’t be put down, it’s his optimism, I think, that makes him so incredibly attractive. It was something I couldn’t resist, because I needed that hope that life would get better, and he, well, he has that zest in spades.
Zeke: (Leans over and kisses her cheek) Thank you, sweetheart. I love that I may be the only human being on the planet that you let see that you’re not a Wonder Woman. (He turns to the interviewer) Everyone, and I do mean everyone, thinks that Lane can solve any problem. After the fallout with those final details in the novel, people look at Lane with new respect. She’s not an outside anymore.
LM: And that’s a gift I didn’t think I deserved. Still don’t, but I’m inching my way toward accepting it.
Zeke: With your aunt’s help. She’s going to make you a part of Longview’s fabric whether you wanted it or not.
LM: And let’s agree, I don’t. I prefer to be invisible. But until Zeke and I get married, I have no other place to live and so I have to endure the teas, parties, and club meetings with my aunt because if I don’t participate, she’ll guilt me into it and then I’ll be angry. I can’t blame my absences on the pipeline project anymore.
I: Tell me about working on the pipeline.
LM: Well, it was unlike anything I’d ever expected. I think we all know how much oilmen hate the government and their regulations, well, add in politicians and their machinations, state governments and their territorialism, the military with their desperate need for steel, and there was no way any of this national, above-ground pipeline plan should have worked. Most of what was created was cobbled together with recycled pipelines, some new steel, new pumping technology that no one knew for sure would work, and then there was the weather. If that wasn’t enough of a series of obstacles, we had spies and enemies at work in our own country trying to outwit this plan and other government projects, and, oh yes, don’t forget an international war on multiple continents, all of which with troops who needed Texas oil yesterday.
Zeke: The pipeline should never have worked. It was too big, and had too many moving parts.
I: Yet, it would appear, everyone put down their own agendas for the greater good.
LM: I think that’s the simplest explanation. War has a unifying quality and when our children are on the front lines, we will do Herculean things to get them the tools they need to win.
I: You didn’t want to come to Longview, did you?
LM: No. I didn’t understand the project, or why I was needed. Theo had a better understanding of the big picture, I was doing my job.
Zeke: The conditions in Longview were far superior to those in France, I don’t know why she wouldn’t have wanted that. We have chicken fried steak. She couldn’t get that in Frog country.
LM: France was an adrenaline rush. Every day we woke to the reality it could be our last day, and if not ours, then someone’s. We had no procedures for what we were doing over there, we felt our way through the spy game and surveillance, and pieced reports and tools the best way we could. I’ll never forget that experience.
I: Yet it didn’t always work out well.
LM: History will reveal the true statistics, but I’m sure for every ten failures there were maybe three successes. Not good odds, but we were all learning as went and it was better than we deserved.
I: Why did you even get involved with the OSS in the first place?
LM: Have you met Col. Theo Marks? He’s impossible to resist.
I: I don’t imagine he’ll talk to me until after he’s been given security clearance. I’m sure the only reason we’re having this conversation is because he’s approved it.
LM: (Smiling) You’re a smart man.
Zeke: I’d rather not talk about Col. Marks, if you don’t mind. That’s a little like inviting Prince Charming into a Bachelor Auction. No one’s going to look good compared to him.
I: I have one last question.
Zeke: I think not, but go ahead. (He turns to Lane) Reporters are never satisfied.
LM: I’ve already sat here longer than I thought I would.
I: Of all the people you met in Longview, do you have any favorites?
Zeke: (Turns to wait for Lane’s answer) I’m sure he means, beside me.
LM: Well, we’re both outsiders. Zeke is at least a native Texan so that made up for a lot, and he’s a big shot golfer, so every man wants to be his friend it would seem, but it was still hard. Hard for both of us to find a way to fit in.
Zeke: Outside of my Calcutta winnings on the golf circuit, I didn’t fare well in Longview. I got on the wrong side of perceptions by helping black folks accused of crimes and misdemeanors. That’s not the fast track to popularity in a town that still celebrates their Confederate War Heroes.
LM: But who doesn’t love Molly Kennedy?
Zeke: Yeah, she’s a charmer . . in an old, crusty sort of way.
LM: She thinks Emmie Tesco and me are up to trouble.
Zeke: Well, aren’t you?
I: I’ll be calling on Miss Kennedy soon. She’s very popular in Longview and is viewed as something of a local mover and shaker.
LM: She should run for mayor.
Zeke: Please don’t interview Patrick. I wouldn’t trust a thing he would tell you.
I: Patrick has gone underground. No one will tell me where to find him.
LM: Well, look at the time. (She glances at her watch.) I really have to dash. I’ve left the bookstore unattended, and the workers will be back from their lunch break soon.
Zeke: And I have a train to catch. Have got to head back to D.C. to zip up those last details with Major Parson.
I: (Closes his notebook) Is there anything you want to say . . . off the record?
LM: (Smiles serenely.)
Zeke: How ‘bout them Longview Cannibals? What are the odds that baseball team will win the series?
Kimberly Fish started writing professionally with the birth of her second child and the purchase of a home computer. Having found this dubious outlet, she then entered and won a Texas manuscript contest which fed her on-going fascination with story crafting. She has since published in magazines, newspapers, and online formats, She lives with her family in East Texas.
GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! One Winner wins a signed copy of The Big Inch
One Winner who purchases the book during the tour wins a bag of Johnny Cace's Cheese Croutons March 8 - 22, 2017
CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR: