Travel adds realism to author's second novelThere’s more than one romance in “The Last Lightning,” the latest work of historical fiction by Minnesota author Craig MacIntosh.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
There’s more than one romance in “The Last Lightning,” the latest work of historical fiction by Minnesota author Craig MacIntosh. There’s a spark between two of the characters in the novel, which deals with a downed World War II plane allegedly carrying millions of dollars in gold. There is also MacIntosh’s enduring passion for the plane itself, a P-38 Lightning.
“I’ve always had a love affair with the P-38,” said MacIntosh, who lives in Rosemont. “I think it’s a fabulous airplane.” On trips from Minnesota to Marquette, Mich., he made it a habit to swing past Poplar to view the P-38 on display outside the former Poplar Elementary School. Every year, it got more weather-beaten.
Saturday when he visits the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center in Superior to discuss his new book, MacIntosh will see that plane again, now beautifully restored.
“It’s a gem, that place you guys have up there,” he said of the center. As part of his research for the book, he read up on Maj. Bong, a Poplar boy who became America’s Ace of Aces. He also travelled halfway across the world to Papau New Guinea, and took part in an expedition to identify World War II planes that were downed in that area. There are probably about 300 planes there, hidden in the nearly impassable hills and jungles.
“My team found eight sites,” MacIntosh said, including one plane that held a Samurai sword and a skull. They didn’t disturb anything, just mapped and photographed the areas, searching for identification numbers on pieces of wreckage. That information will be passed on to the government for future recovery efforts.
So when the author wrote about the fictional search for the downed treasure plane, he was able to make it quite authentic. He even had one character come down with malaria, something that happened to MacIntosh during his trip.
The author’s first book, “The Fortunate Orphans,” followed a group of Midwestern men, including a Superior character, Ole Johnson, as they took part in the Battle of the Bulge.
“I’m just a real lover of stories of World War II,” said MacIntosh, whose father served during that war in both the Pacific and Atlantic theaters. “Actually the truth is even stranger than any fiction you can write.”
Although “The Last Lightning” is a work of fiction, it is not a swashbuckling “Indiana Jones” style read, MacIntosh said. The book features adventure, an exotic setting, a strong story line and even a dash of romance, all anchored in reality.
The author will speak about his inspiration for the book and his trip to Papau New Guinea beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center, 305 Harbor View Parkway. He will also talk about writing historical fiction and how the past is a treasure trove of material. MacIntosh said he hopes to encourage others to talk to relatives about their past or read through family letters and diaries.
“Maybe we’ll even get a couple of veterans to come by,” MacIntosh said. “They’re fun to talk to.”
The event is free.