Anna series author Catherine Team had heard about the famous magician T. Nelson Downs born in Marshalltown, Iowa and moved back there in his retirements. Catherine wanted to include him as a character in the second book in the series, Anna of Iowa.
Wickipedia writes: “At the peak of his career, Downs travelled frequently, and performed at royal courts. While performing his tricks, he could palm up to 60 coins at a time. One of his most famous tricks was ‘The Miser’s Dream,’ in which he seemed to pull countless coins out of the thin air.”
The problem was, the true-life Downs died in 1938 and it was likely that most people in Marshalltown would know that about their most famous resident. Co-author Beverly Smirnis came up with the idea to make up a character that would be his son. He became T. Romulus Downs.
Looking for how to tie Trevor Downs’ son in to the plot, Beverly Googled “Did magicians ever play a role in war?” She found the most interesting story about a team of musicians who used illusions to fool the Germans in Europe. It a perfect tie-in that would help our fictitious T. Romulus (a.k.a. Trevor) become a central character in the book. History.Net did another story about the famous A-Gang.
We created another character, Heidi Werner, based on this backstory posted on The Museum of Jewish Heritage website about Camp Siegfried, a true-life camp for teenagers where German sympathizers sent their children to indoctrinate them about policies beneficial to Germany.