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When a writer’s best-kept secrets inspire a novel… and that writer is me by Jina Bacarr

September 11, 2023 by in category Jina’s Book Chat, Writing tagged as , , , ,

Writers have secrets.

Even when we don’t want them to, those secrets sneak into our stories. Subtle at first, a moment in your heroine’s life that mirrors something awful you lived through. You shiver. How’d that get in there? Oh-oh, it’s flashback time. I’m not going there again… am I?

You dismiss it at first, then you fixate on those moments. They fester, begging for attention. Like the scar covering an old wound, it’s always there to remind you. 

That’s what happened to me when I was working on Sisters at War.

My two worlds collided head-on—my writing world with my past.

When I look back on my life, it’s been a wild ride. I traveled a lot, lived in different places, had crazy jobs, but I kept going and never spoke about what happened to me because you just didn’t.

I was sexually assaulted.

And I was ashamed.

When I saw the same thing happening to women in the Ukraine (rape by Russian soldiers), it hit me in the gut. I asked myself, why don’t things ever change? Why must women always be victims? Would they, if women spoke up? Told their stories? Should I tell my stories?

No, I said. People will judge me. Let it be. It’s over. Done.

Me back in the day…

Then when I was researching WW2, I came across the horrible sexual violence the Nazis did to women prisoners (I decided to concentrate on the emotional wounds instead). Then I discovered something that infuriated me. At the Nuremberg Trials, they kept out rape victims’ testimony because, and I quote, they didn’t ‘want a bunch of crying women in the courtroom’.

I was livid.

That’s when it became clear to me I had to write Sisters at War no holds barred. And I did. It’s raw in places, gut-wrenching, emotional, but in the end it’s a story about love, courage, and redemption.

I told the story of women assaulted during WW2 through the eyes of two sisters. Meet the Beaufort Sisters in Occupied Paris. Eve and Justine. They were once painted by a famous artist when they were fourteen and sixteen. The painting became known as ‘The Daisy Sisters’; then in August 1940, the SS stormed their home and stole the painting.

And one of the sisters.

The story continues with how each sister copes with the aftermath of sexual violence, how it affects her part in the war, and the men in their lives who stand by them.

The early reviews have been amazing:

‘A must read for anyone’

‘Hard hitting and heart breaking’

‘An absolutely gripping, powerful story’

Then a question popped up from more than one reviewer: Will there be a sequel? Yes!

I’m writing book 2 now about the Beaufort Sisters and continuing their story through the war and afterward. I admit, I’m petrified writing the sequel, praying I can make it as exciting and inspiring as ‘Sisters at War’.

Well, there you have it. My secrets are out in the open. I recounted what happened to me in the Acknowledgements of Sisters of War so readers will know the words of my heroine, her emotions, guilt, shame, and choices come from a real place. Along with the healing that still goes on. My editor said my acknowledgements were the bravest she’d ever read. Brave? I don’t know. Emotional, truthful. A cleansing. It was time.

 I hope readers give my story a chance. I hope you give my story a chance.

Thank you for listening.



Who are the Beaufort Sisters?

They’re beautiful

They’re smart

They’re dangerous

They’re at war with the Nazis… and each other.






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Revealed: what novels inspired me to write French historicals that led to me writing ‘Sisters at War’

August 11, 2023 by in category Jina’s Book Chat, Writing tagged as , ,

When I was making this video, I found an old photo of me ‘studying’ back in the day at university. I was sitting outside what we called the ‘student center’ near the science building on campus. A friend captured the moment and I kept the photo in my college yearbook. [college photo in video]

Yes, we wore dresses and I remember those black suede shoes. Low heels. I started out wearing 3-inch heels — red, of course — but that didn’t last. The campus was vast and hilly and I had to trek across the campus from the humanities building to the library and then to the science building.

A different time.

I lived in Laguna Beach steps from the ocean, got my first surfboard, and had a wonderful mentor from the golden days of Hollywood. A charming, older lady who helped me with my singing.

I’ve come a long way… but I’ll always remember those days sitting on the beach and reading my ‘Angelique‘ books.

And studying French and German.

I made it through college, then went to live in Europe, and embarked on the adventures that eventually made it into my novels. Especially ‘SISTERS AT WAR‘. The story of the Beaufort Sisters in Paris 1940 when the unthinkable happens to one of them… a violent sexual assault… and how it affects them both.

More later… and how I added my own life experiences to the story.


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#BoldwoodBirthday Boldwood Books

Bold Book Club

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The fine art of writing a travel postcard: where did it go? by Jina Bacarr #BoldDestinations

July 11, 2023 by in category Jina’s Book Chat, Writing tagged as , , , ,

Imagine receiving a handwritten postcard from Paris in 1940. Intrigue, romance and spies Paris is my #BoldDestinations for this summer’s celebration of places where we set our books like The Orphans of Berlin about the Kindertransport from Berlin to Paris @bookandtonic #booktok

♬ original sound – Jina Bacarr Historical Author♥ – Jina Bacarr Historical Author♥

Summer travel means waiting in airports or to catch a ferry across the channel… or waiting in a busy train station. Plenty of time to write a quick postcard and send it home.

No, wait. Send a selfie back home on your phone with a quick text. Fast, fun, but will it end up in a box of memories?

Or deleted?

The memory lost…

Yes, times have changed. We still waiti n airports or train stations, but the fine art of writing a travel postcard someone will cherish are gone. That personal touch of scrawled handwriting… a quick moment in time captured forever, a tangible memory of a card sent from Paris with the distnictive handwriting we know so well…

Remember when you got a travel postcard from a faraway place? It was like magic

Imagine receiving a handwritten postcard from Paris in 1940. Intrigue, romance, and spies…

Paris is my #BoldDestinations for this summer’s celebration of places where we set our books like The Orphans of Berlin and the Kindertransport from Berlin to Paris.




Exciting news on SISTERS AT WAR!

A story of two sisters caught up in the side of war few talk about…

A very special story that looks at sexual abuse during wartime… and how it affects two sisters in Paris.


Win a signed paperback copy of my upcoming book #SistersAtWar!

To enter, follow @BoldwoodBooks on Twitter and sign up for my newsletter:

Competition ends 25th September! T&Cs:

Original Tweet:

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How a Yellow Umbrella saved my life: The story behind the story of SISTERS AT WAR by Jina Bacarr

June 11, 2023 by in category historical fiction, Jina’s Book Chat, Paris, Paris novels, sexual assault, women's fiction, Writing tagged as , , , ,

My gorgeous cover for ‘Sisters at War’ up for pre-order on Amazon pub date September 25, 2023

Once upon a golden summer day in Amsterdam I got caught in a wild storm… drenched and vowing never to get rained on again, this California girl rushed into a shop near the canal and bought a yellow umbrella.

Easy to carry and it fit snugly into a sturdy, plastic case.

I loved that umbrella. I took it with me everywhere. Paris. New York. Rome. Then one day, that umbrella saved my life.

I was living in Pisa, Italy and working at a US Army base as a Recreation Director at the Service Club taking care of the troops. Army and Air Force servicemen and women and civilian personnel.

I made coffee every night in a restaurant-size, aluminum coffee urn with a vivacious Italian lady who’d worked at the club forever. We played records, cooked up snacks (my chocolate chip cookies were a hit), set up game boards, puzzles, took the men on restaurant field trips (Italian food to die for!), played pool with them, and piled them onto a school bus and drove them to Pisa to attend Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve in a medieval church.

We always had something going on for the men when they needed a ‘home away from home’.

The rest of our Italian staff consisted of an artist, a photographer, and a housekeeper… I worked in the service club under our American club director along with another American girl who was like a big sister to me.

It was a real growing experience for a girl who had spent her college days living at the beach and surfing. We were una famiglia, a family.

I felt safe. Until one afternoon…

Rain was in the air when I was walking home to my apartment in Pisa after visiting the Italian lady who cleaned my apartment (I gave her husband German lessons since he was going to Switzerland for a job—teaching German while speaking Italian was a real challenge). I had my yellow umbrella with me and I was feeling good about using my proficiency in languages to help the young man find work.

I took my usual route home through the winding cobblestone streets, keeping an eye on the gathering dark clouds overhead. It was riposo, that time of day when shops closed and everybody was having lunch and few people were on the street. (I remember one afternoon when my car battery died and my local mechanic said he’d help me… after he finished his spaghetti and vino. Then he smiled and invited me to join him and his family.)

I was surprised when a tall, young Italian seemed to materialize out of nowhere and fell into step beside me, flirting with me. I smiled, then kept walking. I was in a hurry to get home before it started raining. (I was getting used to the locals flirting when a girl walked down the street with Che bella ragazza! as their battle cry).

And then everything changed in an instant.

How, why… I still don’t know what prompted him, but when we turned a corner, he moved with the swiftness of a predator and pushed me into the alley and came at me from behind. He grabbed me around the neck so tight I couldn’t breathe.

I can only imagine the expression of fear circling in my ears, the sheen of sweat glistening on my face. 

I was terrified… I stopped breathing. Why is he doing this?

He kept whispering in my ear, ‘Be still…’ then slowly loosened his grip. I started choking and barely got my breath when he slammed me against a wall and pinned me there… and is that a penknife he’s waving at me? Then I realized what he was about when he unzipped his trousers and—

‘No!’ I cried out and tried to run, but he was too fast and yanked me backward. I thought I was a goner… then he made a mistake. A big mistake when he ripped open my black crepe pants with the sharp blade of his knife.

That did it. I saw red. Those were my favorite black pants.  

I got so angry, I lost my fear and jammed my Dutch yellow umbrella into his ribs then bolted out of the alley and ran.  

All the way back to my apartment. I never looked back.

Fighting back tears and nausea, I raced into the foyer where I ran into my concierge who was horrified at seeing me… wide eyes, flushed cheeks… and my ripped pants.

Then he pointed to my leg.

‘Signorina, guarda… look!’

I looked down. My thigh was bleeding.

Oh, my God, he cut me.

I wrapped a towel around my leg and sat in my apartment… alone… crying and rocking back and forth like a hurt child… until it got dark. I didn’t know what to do. The bleeding had stopped, but the cut was jagged… dirt, cloth pieces could contaminate the wound.

I finally got up my courage and drove to the Army base after dark. Lucky for me, a medic was the only one on duty and he cleaned the wound (I still have a scar on my left thigh). I pleaded with him not to report the assault. I was certain I’d be blamed and the Army would send me home. So I remained silent.

Until now.

When I was researching my new novel about war crimes in France during World War 2, I realized sexual assault is more common than we think. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), one in four women are victims of ‘completed or attempted rape’.

Upon further scrutiny, I discovered how little about sexual assault during the war had been covered in historical fiction. I decided the time was right to talk about it, that women have been silent too long. How sexual assault affects a victim’s everyday life… the guilt, the shame, the silence.

And Sisters at War was born.

The story of the Beaufort Sisters living in Paris in 1940 when one is attacked by an SS officer and how the assault affects the lives of both sisters.

So, to every woman who was ever afraid to speak up re: sexual assault, remember, we get courage from each other. Tell your stories.

You are not alone.


Me in my US Army Service Club uniform
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The Real Truth behind my upcoming Paris WW2 novel ‘SISTERS AT WAR’ by Jina Bacarr

May 11, 2023 by in category Jina’s Book Chat, Writing tagged as
my gorgeous cover for ‘Sisters at War’ up for pre-order on Amazon

I never would have predicted when I sent my editor my latest novel SISTERS AT WAR on Tuesday (my heroine is a victim of sexual violence in Paris during WW2), that fellow writer E. Jean Carroll would win her sexual abuse and defamation case in Federal Court on the same day.

Bravo to E. Jean for her courage and fortitude in pursuing justice for women everywhere. I remember when we crossed paths back in the day. She was vivacious, charming, and gracious, taking time to give advice to this young writer. (I saved her business card… I’ve got it somewhere.)

And in our writing careers, we both faced unwanted sexual advances from men in power.

Let me explain.

I’ve had several experiences that formed me as a young woman… unfortunately, some were unpleasant sexual encounters and like so many women of my generation, I kept silent.

Until now.

What happened to me formed the character of my heroine in SISTERS AT WAR who is raped and assaulted by an SS officer and the effect it has on her and her sister. Guilt, damage to her self-esteem, loss of confidence, and a rift between the two sisters when she believes her to be a collaborator. I’ve done some hard thinking about whether or not to discuss the events in my life that still give me chills. To give credence to my heroine, I feel I owe it to my readers to let them know I speak from experience.

In this first post, we’ll go back in time to my early writing days. I had a few breaks in the biz and wrote scripts for various shows from children’s to daytime TV and dialogue for primetime TV. I worked with some great male writers who respected me… and my work. I have forty-three TV and cable writing credits. And three produced one-act plays in Malibu.

Then I interviewed for my dream job: assistant producer. I went for the interview and it went well… until the company executive groped my breasts. I was shocked. I ran straight to the agent who sent me for the interview and told her what happened. The agent told me to ignore it and take the job. (This was before the ‘Me Too’ movement.’

Oh, my…   

I said no. Then the exec called me and to his credit, he apologized and offered me the job, assuring me it wouldn’t happen a second time. Still, I didn’t feel good about the situation, that my worth as a woman and as a writer was devalued.

Again, I said no.

To this day, I wonder what would have happened if I’d ‘looked the other way’ and taken the job, but I couldn’t live with myself if I did. In the end, I walked away with my dignity intact.

And that’s more important to me than any showbiz ‘break’.

In the months leading up to the September 25th release date of SISTERS AT WAR, I will discuss  sexual assault encounters that I experienced in Paris, Italy, and Copenhagen… and a two-part account about the night I was kidnapped and assaulted when I was in graduate school.

Yes, the details remain vivid. Because you don’t forget.

Thank you for listening.


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