Helena Schrader's Historical Fiction

Dr. Helena P. Schrader is the author of 24 historical fiction and non-fiction works and the winner of more than 53 literary accolades. More than 34,000 copies of her books have been sold. For a complete list of her books and awards see: http://helenapschrader.com

For readers tired of clichés and cartoons, award-winning novelist Helena P. Schrader offers nuanced insight into historical events and figures based on sound research and an understanding of human nature. Her complex and engaging characters bring history back to life as a means to better understand ourselves.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

The Characters of "Moral Fibre" - The "Aussie" Red Forrester

 Kit Moran flew 36 operations as a flight engineer before he started operational training as a pilot. That makes him both cautious and circumspect. Yet he is forced to push himself beyond his comfort zone by the cheeky Australian "Red" Forrester, who is intent on competition.

Excerpt 1:

“Look, Red, can’t we lay this to rest?”

“What?” Forrester answered with a pretense of innocence.

“Your resentment over the fact that you got a red endorsement in your logbook on Black Friday and I didn’t.”

“Yeah, sure — if you can tell me one good reason why I got that endorsement and you didn’t! We both disobeyed orders!”

“I can’t answer that, Red. I don’t endorse the logbooks, the CO does.”

“Well, I can!” Forrester snarled. “Because you’re a Pom and I’m a Colonial, that’s why.”

Kit could identify with Forrester’s resentment. He’d been in his shoes. But he also thought Forrester was wrong. “I can understand why you feel that way, but actually I’m not as ‘Pom’ as you think I am.” He paused and then admitted, “I’m classed as coloured in South Africa.”

“What?” Forrester swung around and gawked at him.

“My grandmother was a native South African. Black.”

“Are you stiffing me?”

“No. Furthermore, I admire you for landing without a green given the circumstances in which you did it. I wish I’d had the courage to do that — and that’s precisely what I told the inquiry panel. I’ve already told you about pausing in the corkscrew and throttling back to let your rear gunner get in a good shot. I still think it’s risky, but it seems to work. I’m perfectly willing to admit you’re a more natural pilot than I am. Whether I like your crew as individuals or not, I recognize that they’re a first-rate team. Now, can we bury the hatchet?”

Forrester seemed to think about this for a moment, and then he grinned and clapped Kit on the shoulder so hard it jostled him. “You’re all right, mate!”

“No more rivalry?”

“Ah, no.” He shook his head. “I didn’t say that. I can’t stop myself. It’s just the way I am. But don’t take it wrong, mate. We can be friendly rivals.”

Red is an Australian pilot who arrives at the same Operational Training Unit as Kit Moran at the same time. They share a room, and they soon become, well, bitter rivals. Forrester is ambitious. He wants his crew to be the best in everything -- flying, bombing, gunnery, navigation. He selects a crew of like-minded individuals, who are as aggressively competitive as he is.  And when they do well at anything, they brag about it.

In the course of the novel, this sets up several situations where Moran is forced to make choices and take actions that would not otherwise have been necessary.  Forrester acts as a foil to Moran. He forces Moran to re-evaluate who he is and what he wants. He is the shadow that sets Moran into greater light. 

Excerpt 2:

About an hour later Forrester arrived and made a beeline for Kit and Adrian. “Well, if it isn’t Zulu Moran himself!” he declared in a loud voice that turned heads across the anteroom.

“That’s not—” Kit started to protest, angry with himself for confiding in Forrester about his background. Adrian caught his eye and shook his head sharply. Kit understood. If he protested, he’d only increase Forrester’s delight in this new nickname; by laughing, he rendered it harmless. So, Kit laughed and went on the offensive, “What happened to you? A girl take exception to your amorous advances?” Forrester had a black, swollen eye and a bad, jagged cut on his chin.

“Had to teach some snotty Americans a lesson,” Forrester answered grinning. “Best fight I’ve had in years. What are you drinking?”

Kit and Adrian let him buy them a round, and Forrester pulled up a chair beside Kit. “So, give me the gen on the Lanc,” he demanded.

Kit smiled and kept the tone light and bantering. “She’s not at all your type, Forrester. She’s a lady. Steady, sedate, smooth, and sophisticated.”

Forrester wasn’t offended. “Think I can’t handle a lady? I’ll bet I solo on her sooner than you do.”

“Save your money. You may need it to pay bail next time you decide to break things.”

“I’ll give you odds. If I solo first, you pay me ten bob, but if you do, I’ll pay you a whole quid.”

Kit didn’t want his reacquaintance with the Lanc rushed by the pressure of competition. He shook his head. “No, thanks. I told you before I’m not a gambling man.”

“I’ll take the bet,” Adrian offered his hand to the Australian.

Forrester shook it firmly. “Glad to see someone on Zulu’s crew has balls. Bet’s on then!”

“Your money, but for the record: it’s not getting in the air first that counts but getting back again too.”




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