The idea for the character of Violette was very loosely based on Marthe Richard, an espionage agent who worked for France during the First World War. I borrowed certain excerpts from Ms. Richard’s adventures in a book called The Skylark published in 1932, and written by Major Georges Ladoux, who was the Chief of the French Counter-Espionage Service, and whose character appears in my story as Georges St. Denis.
In addition to St. Denis, I based certain characters in my story (I have changed their names, and in some cases their titles) on people who really existed, according to The Skylark. The list includes Baron Leo von Beringer, Count Klaus von Hundraiser, Karl and Seigfried, the Gonzales sisters, Julio Cefuentes, “the excellent” Henninger and Nicky.
Marthe Richard was a French double agent dispatched to Spain in WW1. The following were real-life incidents, according to The Skylark, on which I based some of Violette’s adventures:
Marthe Richard was sent to San Sebastian to try to “fascinate” the German Chief of Naval Intelligence, succeeded, and later relocated with him to Madrid. She was able to supply Major Ladoux with the formula for the secret ink that the Germans used, and later, indirectly through “Julio Cefuentes,” and also the re-agent that caused the ink to reappear. She enlisted the help of the wife of the German Chief as an ally. She discovered and reported the activities of the Gonzales sisters with the wife’s unknowing help. She traveled with the Chief along the coast of Spain where his submarines were docked, and sent postcards to Major Ladoux from these ports to inform him of their locations. She exploited the rivalry between the Chief of Military Intelligence and her lover, the Chief of Naval Intelligence, and the confrontation with “von Hundraiser” at the New Year’s Eve party was factual. It was also a fact that she was able to dupe the opposition for a considerable length of time by always supplying information that came too late to be of any use.
Various spy training schools actually existed during both WW1 and WWII. I obtained a great deal of information from a book called Beaulieu: the Finishing School for Secret Agents, written by Cyril Cunningham, published in 1998, about a training school that existed during WWII. I incorporated a lot of the operations of the school in my story, as well as the incident about the Lieutenant blowing his own hand off while checking a faulty detonator.
I am grateful to both Major Georges Ladoux and to Cyril Cunningham for their books, which made scintillating reading and sparked the imagination.
The rest of my story and characters are purely a figment of my imagination, except that I used the names of some of my friends, just for laughs.
Adrianne Sainte-Eve
January, 2010

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