Growing up in southern Alabama, James “Jim” Harvey spent many summers visiting family along the Florida Panhandle.
It was those days vacationing at the beach and his intrigue with stories of his grandfather during World War II that inspired his first novel, “Grayton Beach Affair.”
Set in the early 1940s, the book fuses fiction with American wartime history to create an action-packed love story both men and women could enjoy, said Harvey, who now lives in Dawsonville.
One of the oldest settlements along the panhandle, Grayton Beach sits between Ft. Walton Beach and Panama City, near Eglin Air Force base, which served as a prison of war camp during World War II.
Harvey said he recalled family wartime stories of explosions from submarines torpedoing merchant ships off the coast.
“I realized a lot of people were unaware of all the activity that went on there during the war and it would be a good story to tell,” he said.
“Grayton Beach Affair” is the tale of German-born Christian Wolfe who meets Maggie Neal during a coerced covert mission to extract a top German official imprisoned at a war camp near the coast.
“I put my main character, Christian, on an actual voyage of U-67 that sailed from France in May 20, 1942, cruised along the Gulf Coast, sank eight ships ... and was a hero to the German Navy,” Harvey said.
Initially, the story was intended for a male audience.
“It was going to be action, danger, war and then I brought in a very strong female character, Maggie, whose living in Grayton Beach trying to overcome the death of her fiancee who got killed in Pearl Harbor,” Harvey said.
Without giving away the story, Christian returns to Europe after the war but never forgets Maggie. One day he would return to the states: “But with their relationship founded on death and deception, could they possibly build a future together?”
Released on Feb. 1, “Grayton Beach Affair” broke records for book sales at the Florida coastal book store where it was launched.
“It’s getting a lot of positive reviews,” Harvey said.
Harvey spent the last month touring the coast to promote the book.
“I’ll be here for a month and then I’m heading out for a tour of the southeast the whole month of April,” he said.
March 19 he will be at Book Warehouse at North Georgia Premium Outlets for a meet and greet from 1-3 p.m. Copies will be available at the signing and are also available on most book sales Web sites.