Sept. 08–Local author Kimberly Fish introduced herself and her novels to Kilgore Rotary Club at their weekly meeting Wednesday.
Fish, a Longview resident, has written three novels set in Texas, with two focused on the East Texas oil boom and its contribution to America’s success in World War II.
For years, Fish was published in East Texas magazines and newspapers but it wasn’t until she was asked to write a 100-year history of the Longview Chamber of Commerce that she discovered the events which inspired her novels.
“When I had to take 100 years of Chamber of Commerce history and try to boil it down, there were several significant stories that rose to the top. Some were so incredible, I couldn’t even really believe them. So I had to do a little more research, a little digging. One of those stories was a bout a pipeline project that is credited with helping the Allies win World War II,” Fish told the Rotarians.
During her research, Fish learned about the famous “Big Inch” pipeline, a 1942 War Production Board project to build an oil pipeline from Longview to destinations in the northeast U.S., including Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. These states needed oil for the war effort but German U-boats threatened supply ships leaving the port of Houston. An overland pipeline was proposed as a solution, which “had to be considered the craziest idea to come out of those early war years,” Fish said.
The author soon found crazy ideas can make good stories.
“When I read that story and that research, I knew that was a story we needed to tell for today,” Fish said.
The author realized she lacked technical knowledge of oilfield and pipeline operations and needed an entertaining way to tell the story. While researching the war, Fish came across reports of plans between British and American forces to establish spy networks. She learned President Roosevelt created the Office of Strategic Services to train American spies for the war effort and many young women were inducted into its ranks.
“I took that research and I thought ‘what if?'” Fish said. “What if, during that period when the Big Inch pipeline was being built, we needed a spy network in Gregg County? I decided to write a historical fiction book. I dropped one of those spies into Longview as an undercover secretary for Major Burton. I set that whole scenario right in the Bramlette building right in downtown Longview in the heyday of the 1940s.”
The author dropped a hint about the subject of a potential third book in the series: a series of Texas golf tournaments known as “The Barbecue Circuit.” The Meadowbrook Country Club where the Rotary Club holds their weekly meetings played an important role in this circuit, Fish said.
Following her presentation, Fish sold and autographed copies of her books “The Big Inch” and its sequel “Harmon General.” She also told the club “The Big Inch” is now available in audiobook form from Audible.com.
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