Building the World of The Golden Key

Golden Key ebook cover--smaller sizeThe Golden Key is set at the end of World War I, and as such, required a fair amount of research to write. It was an absolutely brutal war, ironically because this conflict favored defenders, which sounds like a good thing.

Due to the improved logistics and numerous European railroads, supplies could be shifted with far greater speed compared to any previous war. Soldiers dug in, waited for supplies, and…so did the other side. Then they started lobbing mortars, bombs, and bullets (with the now-standard machine gun) at the “enemy,” who were simply young men born on the wrong side of a border.

And the trenches wept with the blood of forty million dead and wounded, an estimated ten million of whom were civilians.

My story brought some hope to the trenches, in the form of a German farmer desperately searching for his missing son, and a small golden bird. But I’ll let the history speak for itself here.

1. WWI propaganda poster

2. soldier parade

3. scared soldier

5. bombs with dog

6. Loading a mortar

7. Bearing the stretcher.

8. Firing over dead snag

9. carrying comrade to hospital

10. happy in trenches

11. dead in trenches

12. grave marker

14. bearing the stretcher2

15. gas mask

16. in hospital

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day. In 1918, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the guns finally fell silent.

It’s up to us to keep them that way.


Note: if you’d like to see the same images done as a book trailer, it’s on my Facebook page here:Β


Avid writer and reader of Faerie tales and noblebright fantasy.

Posted in Uncategorized
24 comments on “Building the World of The Golden Key
  1. The Golden Key is on my kindle and I’m looking forward to a great read, Cathleen! xo

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dan Antion says:

    What a nightmare that must have been. I think I’ll be getting this book, Cathleen.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It was an absolutely brutal war of attrition. It doesn’t get as much play as World War II, but I think there’s been a renewed understanding in recent years — not among historians, who were already aware, but certainly among the public — that the events of those years really set the stage for the twentieth century, and certainly the arrogant mistakes made at the Paris Peace Conference not only paved the way for the Second World War, but the endless quagmire in the Middle East.

    Very curious to read The Golden Key, Cathleen, and I love to hear you say things like “I do believe it’s the best thing I’ve ever written”! When you feel that good about something you’ve done, you should absolutely be the first to declare it loud and proud! I wish more creatives would be their own best advocates.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If most of the latter 20th century was defined by the Greatest Generation’s crisis, WWII, then it’s easy to point a finger at WWI. But there have been at least some gains since then.

      Propaganda has mostly become less blatant. Media black-outs on wars, like the Brits had on WWI (because if the people back home had known, they wouldn’t have sent their husbands and sons to fight in the trenches), are a thing of the past. Governments can no longer control the information their people receive.

      But in return we’re a nation sorely divided, and we’re likely heading into another crisis configuration, based on the book Generations by Strauss and Howe, which I highly recommend. It was published in 1991, and many of the predictions so far have been frighteningly accurate.

      In a lot of ways, this is my plea for greater unity. The whole point of this story was to look into the eyes of an enemy and see a human being.

      And concerning my writing, there’s a dark side to reaching a high-water mark–this is now the new standard. *gulp* Now I’m wondering if I can make Bellerophon, my next book, as relevant, since it’s set in ancient Greece. Time will tell. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  4. coilerxii says:

    Excellent post. While it’s an oversimplification in historical terms, WWI has the feeling of being the period where the Old Europe of royalty and monarchies died in a massive barrage of artillery shells.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Certainly it marked the decline of empires. The repeated failures of the world wars to redefine the geography of power has had a marked effect on how governments express their differences. Currently, we have trade wars. It’s still stupid, IMO, but I suppose it’s better than bombs.


  5. Jennie says:

    One of the worst wars, Cathleen. Thank you for reminding us that it has been 100 years since the Armistice. Your book is an important story.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. willowdot21 says:

    Good luck with the book. If only there were no wars anywhere.πŸ’œ

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Your research into the conditions of the front and the trenches was evident in your world-building, Cathleen. I had no idea that 40 million people lost their lives in that war. Then WWII on its heels… people must have thought the world went mad. So much tragedy. You did a great job of showing Dieter as a father and decent man even though he was on the German side. And the goodness and compassion in his nature did bring lots of hope to the story. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Close–40 million killed or wounded–but remember that wounding usually meant severe maiming. So, half that number were fatalities. But then in addition to that, there was the Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918, and that one killed 50 million all on its own.

      It must have seemed like death pressed around them on all sides. It would have been a struggle even to hold onto things like basic decency. Society was breaking down.

      And thanks for the attagirl on Dieter. I was proud of him and his story. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Ann Coleman says:

    Those photos did a great job of showing the horrors of war in general and WWI in particular. I think I would like to read your book, especially if it ends on a note of hope. Like you, I need both realism and optimism in my life!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not a big one for downer endings. I at least want bittersweet, like the Gray Havens scene in LOTR.

      I found the pics to be evocative as well. It’s extremely motivating to me that the sacrifices made then are not forgotten today, both to honor those who made them and to caution us concerning how far governments will go for power, if we let them.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. robbiecheadle says:

    A book about WW1 – awesome, I am very into war history at the moment, Kathleen. I will add this to my TBR.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thanks so much, Robbie. I’ve been meaning to pick up one of yours, too. Which one would you recommend?

    Liked by 1 person

    • robbiecheadle says:

      Would you be interested in an ARC of my new book, While the Bombs Fell? It is about WWII and might interest you. I am waiting for the final copy from my publisher but would love to get some early views on it.


  11. Cathleen, I’ve come back to read this post several times, and even read a detailed analysis of the Paris Peace Treaties. Many believe that WWII was a continuation of WWI as issues of borders and national identity and allegiance continued to surface. The images are haunting. You put so much heart into The Golden Key. Your book is on my TBR list. Wishing you the best.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Contact Cathleen Townsend

%d bloggers like this: