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VERA'S GUN, Historical Fiction - Coryn A. R. Hayman


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Coryn Hayman

Title: Vera’s Gun

Genre: Historical Fiction

Comparables:
This novel will appeal to those with an interest in historical fiction and strong female protagonists navigating harsh military institutions and surviving the trials of war. Vera’s Gun is comparable to novels such as Kate Quinn’s, “The Huntress” (2019), and Kaia Alderson’s “Sisters in Arms” (2021). “Vera’s Gun” is complete at 98,000 words.

Hook:

Knowing that animal resistance is the only way to escape a humiliating death, a female Soviet sniper in World War II seeks redemption through battlefield triumph, killing the brother of a German colonel who pursues her through war-torn Eastern Europe to a final showdown in a mighty Baltic fortress.

Pitch:

Vera Ivanovna Siyanitsa is a twenty-five-year-old Soviet sniper fighting on the Eastern Front in World War II. After being sexually propositioned by her commanding officer, she resolves to defy orders and partake in the massive Soviet offensive in Belorussia, Operation Bagration.

Vera lost her mother and two brothers in the German conquest of Minsk, and the Soviet secret police abducted her father. Her only family left is her younger sister Anna, a fellow sniper, driven to fight by deep and passionate faith.

In the city of Vitebsk, Vera kills the young brother of thirty-five-year-old German colonel, Heinz Bruno. Their eyes meeting in the firelight of a burning bridge, Bruno vows revenge, pursuing her through the sweltering summer swamps of Belorussia and the dense conifer forests of East Prussia.

Severely wounded and under investigation by a relentless agent of the Soviet secret police, Vera must survive long enough to meet Bruno on his own ground, in a mighty Baltic fortress, in the besieged German city of Konigsberg. Only through victory in war can Vera escape a humiliating death.

Prose Sample:

Chapter 1. Sniper First

 

Dribino, Sukhodrovka Sector

17 kilometers southeast of Vitebsk, on the Belorussian Border

March 22nd, 1944

 

A sniper first, and a nurse second. No way in hell Vera was going to let that mother and child into her hiding spot. She looked through her scope at a second-story window across the street, the chill March wind and sleet blowing into her basement hide. Some “cuckoo” sniper waited for her to poke her head up enough for him to blow it off. Every time she tried to train her rifle, the young mother, grabbing the forearm of her screaming toddler, ran in aimless frenzy, blocking Vera’s view through the scope. She propped the barrel atop a pile of sandbags, recessed away from the window, and took aim across the street.          

Vera’s younger twenty-two-year-old sister, Anna, stared down the barrel of her rifle, covering the street and windows closer to the ground, but a ring of sandbags outside obscured the view. After an exploded artillery shell created a crater in the street, the topmost sandbags fell in a haphazard pile, settling with a dark cloud of dust and debris.

The mother yanked the boy, almost dislocating his arm, and he give a high-pitched howl of pain. They dove for cover behind the sandbags and a kindled wood pile from ravaged buildings. A flicker of light in the window, followed by the report of a rifle. Fritz waited for the best moment to fire at the frenzy in the street. He must have missed, because the child isn’t shutting up, thought Vera. The woman made rapid, short wheezes, punctuating the screams in a raucous rhythm of panicked breathing.

“We have to get them in here! They’ll die out there,” said Anna, her brown eyes flashing.

“No! They’ll give us away!”

Clanking treads chewed up the pavement as a tank barreled down on them. Vera peered out the basement window to see the gargantuan bulk of a lone Panzer grinding to a halt across the street. The only tanks left were smoking dead hulks. What was he doing here? Vera wondered. Did he get lost and separated from his platoon? All the German armor fled to the west, the remaining trapped fascist invaders forming the only pockets of resistance as the Red Army tightened its grip on the town. Why don’t they just surrender? Well, fuck them. We’ll find and get them all, thought Vera.

A German Volksgrenadier divisional flag poked through the window across the street, waving to alert the tank commander below. The idling engine sputtered, as though in a moment of indecision, before its turret creaked, the 75mm cannon swiveling towards them with a grinding shriek of metal on metal, drowning out everything else. The turret came to a stop, Vera staring down the barrel of the cannon. Anna glanced toward the hidden mother and child.

“Vera! We have to get them in, now!”

“No, run! Get to the back of the room!” Vera scrambled back from the window. The tank fired, and the building shook as a shell slammed into the fortified position next to them.

Biography:

I am a former emergency physician, writing full time. Working in a busy community hospital and volunteering in Haiti brought me in contact with the full breadth of human experience, both good and bad. I’ve seen amazing acts of humanity and compassion in my career, and I hope this has positively impacted my development as a writer.

My stepfather was a literature professor, and he introduced me to Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Two of my favourite novels are “Brothers Karamazov” and “Cancer Ward”. My love for Russian literature, coupled with an interest in military history, led me to write a novel about World War II in the Soviet Union.

I also do freelance and medical illustration and have published drawings in a textbook of cardiac surgery.

 

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