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October 19, 2018

Mystery/thriller writer Annechino breaks into a new genre with this inspiring true story of survival against incredible odds.

What led you to write a work of nonfiction after writing several novels?

My uncle Angelo served as a U.S. Army Ranger during WWII. The Nazis captured him during the bloody battle of Cisterna, Italy, and wiped out the rest of his battalion. After spending weeks in a prison camp, enduring horrendous conditions, he miraculously escaped and spent more than five months trying to survive behind enemy lines in the dead of winter. When my uncle was finally rescued and discharged from the army, he refused to speak to anyone, including his immediate family, about the horrors he had faced. For his entire life, he remained silent. But one day, at the age of 84, as he lay close to death in a hospital bed, he told his only son the whole story. When my cousin reached out and shared all the details with me, I knew that my uncle's heroic story could not be left untold.

How did you go about turning your uncle's real-life experiences into a book?

To develop greater intimacy between reader and character, I decided to write the book in first person. I faced many challenges creating scenes for which I could never truly know the details. Obviously, I had to take some liberties in imagining how my uncle might have reacted to situations. All major events, though, are based on my uncle's account of his experiences, and my cousin, Steve DiMarco, helped to ensure that they are accurately portrayed.

How did you research More Than a Solider?

I've published five mystery/thriller novels, all composed in third person and set in the 21st century. Consequently, writing a book based in Italy during WWII posed quite a challenge. However, with the help of the internet, an author's resources are nearly limitless.

Stories set around WWII are perennially popular. How does More Than a Solider continue in the traditions of this subgenre, and how does it depart from them?

More Than a Soldier recounts a young man's coming of age in a challenging situation that might have broken many an ordinary person. More than a war story, it is a deeply intimate journey into the heart and soul of one soldier who made a difference doing his part to preserve our freedoms.

Who do you hope will read this book?

The heroism of More Than a Soldier makes it ideal for anyone in search of an inspiring, true story of survival and resilience. Readers who are interested in stories about war, the military, or famous battles will find it particularly appealing.

What is the one thing you most want to tell others about More Than a Soldier?

It took me about a year to compose each of the five mystery/thriller novels I have previously published. More Than a Soldier was a monumental undertaking, though. I spent two years writing and editing this book. When I was finished, I realized that I had given the story part of my soul. A piece of me will always remain between the covers of this book that honors a very special man.