Mackenzie’s Secret is the sequel to Anna’s Secret Legacy.
Mackenzie’s Secret is the sequel to Anna’s Secret Legacy.
A Secret No Longer
S.A. Williams, author of the 1940 thriller “Anna’s Secret Legacy,” shares her remarkable story
By Bill Donahue
S.A. Williams’ life has been anything but ordinary, one that fans of suspense fiction might want to read about in a novel … or see come alive on a movie screen.
Although she now resides in the Philadelphia suburbs, Williams is truly a student of the world. She was educated in London, Paris, Rome, Brussels and other bastions of culture throughout Europe, and she has also lived in metropolitan cities throughout New York, Rhode Island and Texas. After completing her formal education, she made a name for herself as both an artist and a prominent businesswoman. She developed an interest in film early on, and in the course of her 20 years as a member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), she worked on the sets of Philadelphia-based films such as “The Age of Innocence,” “Rocky Balboa” “The Sixth Sense,” “Philadelphia” and “Silver Linings Playbook”; she also worked on “Franny,” a project starring Richard Gere that is currently in post-production. Along the way, she has forged bonds with heads of state and titans of the silver screen, as well as CEOs of multibillion-dollar pharmaceutical firms, leaders of revered universities and other A-list luminaries.
It should come as no surprise, then, that her first novel, “Anna’s Secret Legacy,” is so imaginative and ambitious. At its heart, “Anna’s Secret Legacy” is a World War II-era love story set in the days leading up to Adolph Hitler’s invasion of Denmark and Norway. This is hardly a typical Harlequin romance novel. Instead, Williams’ story focuses on the molecular discovery of a substance known that comes from sulfur water. In her book, Williams imagines this secret formula that comes from sulfur water as a sort of cure-all with the ability to restore damaged DNA cells, thereby making the human body impervious to disease. In the wrong hands, however, this secret formula, if chemically manipulated, has the potential to wipe out humanity. Historically accurate and scientifically plausible, the book is based on meticulous research—“I read 700 books and thousands of articles over a two-year period,” the author says—and interviews with experts in their respective fields.
“Anna’s Secret Legacy” also explores time-tested themes such as family and romantic love, dissecting the relationship between two people to which love has never come easy. The tension begins when U.S. Navy Reserve pilot Doug Conyers embarks on a confidential mission to gather intelligence in Paris and Copenhagen. When he meets a brilliant, beautiful young woman—Anna, the research scientist who has unraveled the mystery surrounding sulfur water’s startling potential—at a jazz club in Denmark, both of their lives are forever changed. With Doug’s help, Anna must prevent her discovery from becoming a weapon for bioterrorism. As the Germans invade in search of resources to fuel Hitler’s war machine, Anna realizes she must flee to keep her secret hidden, especially if she is to save her severely ill sister, Britta.
“Most people just go about living their lives—surviving vs. achieving,” Williams says. “We’re told to abandon our youthful fantasies, and over time that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Although my story takes place in the 1940s, it speaks to people across all demographics because it deals with the discovery of something that could cure cancer and be a cure for germ warfare. All of us in our lives know someone who has passed away from cancer or some other sickness. My overall message is that we should never stop trying new things and never give up hope.”
Articulate and highly educated, Williams earned her undergraduate degree from Syracuse University. After college, she became credentialed in Global Marketing and Management, Entrepreneurship and The CEO Leadership Program from the renowned Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She also earned Global Marketing and Strategic Management credentials from Harvard Business School. She is equally distinguished in her artistic pursuits. In addition to being a veteran SAG member, she earned bronze, silver and gold medals from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. One might best describe her as a rare breed—equal parts artist and businesswoman, writer and producer, actress and science enthusiast with a keen interest in the works of Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr.
Response to her action-packed novel has been extraordinary, as evidenced by online reviews and the fact that its Facebook page has garnered more than 100,000 “likes” since the book’s publication in July 2010. She has since adapted “Anna’s Secret Legacy” into a screenplay she describes as a 1940 thriller that begins in Copenhagen. Williams is now at work researching, writing and assertively marketing a sequel, “Mackenzie’s Secret,” which she envisions as both a novel and multi-season TV series.
“I originally wanted to do a TV series, and I wanted an intelligent series that would engage people emotionally and intellectually,” she says. “I wanted to do something fun that wasn’t catering to the lowest common denominator. … I’ll work till the sun comes up sometimes because I get so caught up in the story. I think it would make a great TV series or a great film.”
Such optimism appears to be well founded, as Williams suggests a number of notable producers, actors and other Hollywood VIPs have shown significant interest in her project.
“Anna’s Secret Legacy” is available as a hard copy through http://www.amazon.com, http://www.bn.com and other online booksellers or as an e-book for Kindle. For more information on the author and her upcoming projects, visit http://www.annassecretlegacynovel.com or find “Anna’s Secret Legacy” on Facebook.
The Oslo Report was one of the most spectacular leaks in the history of military intelligence. Written by German mathematician and physicist Hans Ferdinand Mayer on November 1 and 2, 1939 during a business trip to Oslo, Norway, it described several German weapons systems, current and future.
Mayer mailed the report anonymously in the form of two letters to the British Embassy in Oslo, where they were passed on to MI6 in London for further analysis, and proved to be an invaluable resource to the British in developing counter-measures, especially to navigational and targeting radars, and contributed to the British winning the Battle of Britain.
Hans Ferdinand Mayer received his doctorate in physics from the University of Heidelberg in 1920. After spending two years as a research associate there in his doctoral supervisor’s (Philipp Lenard) laboratory, he joined Siemens AG in 1922. He became interested in telecommunications and joined Siemens’s communication research laboratory, becoming its director in 1936. Because of this position, he had contacts all over Europe and the United States and had access to a wide range of information about electronics development in Germany, especially in the military sector.
After Hitler invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, Mayer decided to divulge to the British as much as he could about military secrets to defeat the Nazi regime. He arranged a business trip to Scandinavia in late October 1939. He arrived at his first scheduled stop, Oslo, Norway, on October 30, 1939 and checked into the Hotel Bristol.
Mayer borrowed a typewriter from the hotel, and typed the seven-page Oslo Report in the form of two letters over two days. He mailed the first on November 1, which asked the British military attaché to arrange for the BBC World Service to alter the introduction to its German language programme if he wished to receive the Report. This was done, and he sent the Report along with a vacuum tube from a prototype proximity fuze.
He also wrote a letter to his longtime British friend Henry Cobden Turner, asking him to communicate with him via their Danish colleague Niels Holmblad. This indirect communication path was required since Britain and Germany were at war, but Denmark was at that time neutral. Mayer continued his travels to Denmark to visit Holmblad, asking if he could relay information between himself and Turner. Holmblad readily agreed, but once Hitler invaded Denmark on April 9, 1940, this communication route was no longer feasible. Mayer then returned to Germany. Although Mayer was arrested by the Gestapo in 1943 and was imprisoned in concentration camps until the war ended, the Nazis never knew of the Oslo Report.
On 4 November 1939, Captain Hector Boyes, the Naval Attaché at the British Embassy in Oslo, received an anonymous letter offering him a secret report on the latest German technical developments. To receive the report, all he had to do was arrange for the usual announcement of the BBC World Service’s German language broadcast to be changed to “Hullo, hier ist London”. This was done, and resulted in the delivery of a parcel a week later which contained a typewritten document and a type of vacuum tube, a sensor for a proximity fuze for shells or bombs. The typewritten document accompanying it became famous after its existence was revealed in 1947 and would go down in history as the “Oslo Report”.
Boyes quickly appreciated the Report’s potential importance and had a member of the embassy staff make a translation which he forwarded to MI6 in London along with the original.
The Oslo Report was received with indifference or even disbelief by British Intelligence, with the notable exception of Dr. R.V. Jones, a young Ph.D. physicist who had recently been put in charge of a new field called “Scientific Intelligence”. Jones argued that despite the breadth of information and a few inaccuracies, the technical details were correct and argued that all the electronic systems divulged therein be further explored. In a 1940 report, Jones summarized his thoughts.
The contribution of this source to the present problem may be summarised in the statements that the Germans were bringing into use an R.D.F. [ Radio Direction Finding, the British name for radar] system similar to our own,… A careful review of the whole report leaves only two possible conclusions: (1) that it was a “plant” to persuade us that the Germans were as well advanced as ourselves or (2) that the source was genuinely disaffected from Germany, and wished to tell us all he knew. The general accuracy of the information, the gratuitous presentation of the fuse, and the fact that the source made no effort, as far as it is known, to exploit the matter, together with the subsequent course of the war and our recent awakening with Knickebein, weigh heavily in favour of the second conclusion. It seems, then, that the source was reliable, and he was manifestly competent.
In his 1989 book, Jones summarized the importance of the Oslo Report as follows:
It was probably the best single report received from any source during the war. …Overall, of course, the contributions from other sources such as the Enigma decrypts, aerial photographs, and reports from the Resistance, outweighed the Oslo contribution, but these were all made from organizations involving many, sometimes thousands of individuals and operating throughout most of the war. The Oslo Report, we believed, had been written by a single individual who in one great flash had given us a synoptic glimpse of much of what was foreshadowed in German military electronics.
While Jones took the Oslo Report very seriously, the Admiralty for one thought that the Report was “too good to be true” and therefore had to be a devious deception by the Abwehr, with its fantastic claims written by psychological warfare experts. An additional argument raised by the doubters was that no single person could have such wide knowledge of weapons technology as discussed in the Report. This was mainly due to the fact that interforce co-operation, e.g. between the Navy and Air Force, was at the time poor in both Britain and the US, and it was known that in Germany the two organisations were virtually at war between themselves.
In fact, the Oslo Report is strongly focused – on electronic technology – and several major German companies were involved in such projects for all three armed forces; some scientists in these companies would indeed have had a wide-ranging overview.
Honored that night was the amazing Judith Jamison, who was inducted into the Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney Hall of Fame. Jamison was the artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for 20 years, along with numerous other outstanding achievements in dance, and has earned great fame and recognition.
S.A Williams was particularly pleased as she was the agency of record for the advertising for Alvin Ailey at The Annenberg Center in Philadelphia with Randy Swartz many years ago. “This was a great honor to meet such a brilliant and talented woman” says Williams, who is a big fan. “Also this Copacabana Gala was a spectacular event -Michelle Riggi and her team did an outstanding job! One of the best Galas’s ever!”.
What would you do if, in the course of your work, you discovered something unlike anything you’d experienced theretofore? You’re dedicated to your research, and you put together something so unexpected that at first you need to take stock, to realize the implications from all angles. Before that moment of discovery, you’d never realized the weight of making decisions that affected others—but now, suddenly you have the weight of the world on your slim, youthful shoulders.
And what if this secret discovery was so powerful that it held the potential both for great good, or for ultimate evil? In the right hands—those of benevolent hearts with philanthropic leanings, Anna’s discovery could do tremendous good—it could revolutionize medicine, and save countless numbers of people.
But in the wrong hands and in the wrong circumstances, it could usher in the end of all life on Earth, for Anna’s discovery could lead to the termination of all beings on our planet, from single-celled organisms to the most complex of beings.
This is precisely the conundrum with which Anna is faced in Anna’s Secret Legacy. The responsibility of harboring her enormous discovery, and wanting to do the right thing is a burden she’d never anticipated. What if this great thing can live up to its true potential, and revolutionize medicine? How many lives could be saved by this new-found information? On the other hand, it would take only one malevolent heart, one evil soul—one evil empire—to take the secret, twist it and destroy all humanity. A single drop of the magic elixir could lead a domino-effect toward universal death for all life forms on Earth.
This is not a decision that should be thrown in the lap of anyone, never mind a young woman with a complicated past. The past may not determine the future, but certainly it can shape our decisions. Anna carried her past with her, as we all do—but in her case, the dysfunction of her family life could fog up her ability to think through the full implications of her gigantic secret.
What do you think? Those of you who’ve read the book—I’d love your feedback, about how you’d handle Anna’s conundrum, were the problem yours. Those of you who’ve not-yet read the book—there’s always time to catch up. Let’s start a discussion group—your thoughts on Anna’s troubling discovery are important to me. Thank you for reading, and for sharing.
Anna’s Secret Legacy- A Secret Look- Who is Anna and Why Do We Care?
Anna is more than just the proverbial star of the show in Anna’s Secret Legacy. As the protagonist, she serves as the mother framework for this project. Struggling with her choices ethically, she succeeds in making the right ones. We see her as beautiful and intelligent, but the co dependency, caretaker issues, become more evident, as we are drawn into her character. Her love for her younger sister, Britta, is a perfect example of a dysfunctional family relationship.
Anna is the eldest child of middle class parents. Her Mother’s early influence on Anna as an herbalist has a strong influence on Anna’s career choice in research medicine. Her mother’s early death, throws her into primary caretaker of the household. She was sent to Cambridge at age 16 and graduates at 20, get her PhD in biology, at age 23.
She has been working as a research scientist at the prestigious Neils Bohr Institute for a few years. A dysfunctional and chaotic family, thrusts a lot of responsibility on her at a young age, which is overwhelming. She is attractive and sensitive whose early years had given her a far greater than ordinary need for genuine unstinted love. In Doug she seems to find at last what she had sought above all else.
By being strong and helpful to others, she protects herself from the panic, surrounds herself with people she can help, in order to feel safe and in control.
When she meets Doug, a fast acting cocktail of neuro chemicals is set off. A rush of laser focused attraction opens the door to a whirlwind courtship. Anna may not have wanted to meet anyone that night, but her brain had other plans that are deep and primitive. Both Doug and Anna will come up against anxiety, threats and mind numbing joys, over which they have little control, as they try to build a future together.
Anna’s spontaneous dreams are relatively easy to interpret. Fostering and interpreting diagnostic and curative dreams was essential to the methods of ancient Greek and Egyptian healing temples and was practiced by Hippocrates and Galen. Anna well understands that the mind and body communicate with each other constantly and that most of this communication is on an unconscious level.
Doug’s mother died when he was a young boy. Nothing in Doug’s life prepared him to be emotionally involved with another person in a loving, committed relationship. For most of his life he had actively been seeking a feeling of strength and safety by engaging in dangerous escapades. He used involvement in danger to avoid feeling pain and helplessness at being emotionally abandoned by his mother (albeit no fault of hers because she died)- when he meets Anna he is enchanted by her appealing looks and tender attitude toward him. She responds with sincere interest and deep compassion. When he sees Anna, a signal went off for mating and long term attachment- his heartstrings finally got the attention of his very self sufficient and independent male brain.
Where would their journey take them…? Read the book, if you’ve not already..it appears that they have leapt from solitary inner lives to one of genuine connection-a place we all crave, whether we admit it or not. http://www.annassecretlegacynovel.com
You’ve heard of The French Connection, yes? Well, Anna’s Secret Legacy has a very strong Saratoga Connection. I have a special fondness for Saratoga Springs, New York and the beautiful Saratoga Race Course there. Thoroughbred race horses play a role in the book, and quite a bit of action takes place at the historic race track there. The vibe of the place—the track and the town—is unlike anywhere else in the world. Once you’ve been, you’re entranced. Like the song of the Sirens, Saratoga wants to become your lover. She calls you back, time and again.
The track, town and horses are all characters in the book–but I can’t tell you any more than that! Those of you who’ve read the book know what happens there—those of you who haven’t, well, you’ll just have to get a copy and find out for yourselves.
I have very fond memories of Saratoga from my time in upstate NY—my Dad loved Thoroughbreds, passionately. He shared his affection for the horses and for Saratoga. I loved going to the track with him—seeing these spectacular horses— my Dad was pretty knowledgeable about this enchanting sport, ‘The Sport of Kings’. These memories are a key reason why I look forward to going back every chance I get. Reliving sweet old times, and creating new memories for the future—that’s what Life’s all about, isn’t it?
In Anna’s Secret Legacy novel, O’Grady, The Irish trainer is also part of the underground résistance and plays an important role in smuggling military secrets out of Germany as he had access to selling and buying thoroughbreds, throughout Europe in 1940-This is the one year The l’Arc De Triomphe, The famous Paris race was cancelled.
(hint, hint his adopted son. O’Grady’s son will play a major role in the sequel! )
(And—hint-hint—it’s no mere coincidence that Saratoga is renowned for the waters- ‘Taking the Bathes’ (as President Roosevelt did) that bubble up from underground, and a major role of the miraculous water in the story.)
I hope to make more Saratoga Memories this summer, during my book tour. We’re working to set up a couple of book signings in town during the racing season. It would be wonderful to meet some fans of Anna’s Secret Legacy in person, and to make new friends. As we discussed in my last blog posting, I wrote the book with the intention of providing a compelling, single story—but also give readers some nuggets that speak of The Big Picture.
I’m fascinated by the fact that every Life on this Earth is made up of a series of small stories—indeed, many people perceive it as being nothing more than small stories—but those little pieces are all part of the bigger whole, The Big Picture. Saratoga, racing and the horses all contribute to the greater picture—they are the fabric of the large story, itself. We could not take them out of the book any more than we could remove the sulfur springs, or World War II—the period of time during which our story unfolds. Like a rich tapestry—which on the front appears as one beautiful, seamless picture—Anna’s Secret Legacy from the back is a mixture of many threads of countless colors. And every thread, every color, is absolutely necessary. Without any one particular color or thread, the story itself would fall apart, be a cacophony of words with no rhyme or reason.
So I’m very excited about revisiting a place of such special importance. Saratoga is a wild, mystical, exotic place—a place that has secrets all her own. Serving as the backdrop for such a meaningful thread in my book, this magical environment will draw you into her heart, under the spell that she weaves in every page dedicated to this part of the story line. I hope to share discussions with each of you when I visit Saratoga this summer: I’m sure we’ll have a lot to discuss! Even first conversations with new friends who’ve read the same book feels like dinner with old allies, and I look forward to meeting each and every one of you when I visit the Spa City in August. J www.annassecretlegacynovel.com Ck out the secret room for historical facts relevant to the book–click on the coins and you will be taken to another historical fact relevant to the novel.
Anna’s Secret LegacyHello! It’s been a while since we checked in—things here have been hectic, in the good way. I’m happy to report that enthusiasm for the book hasn’t waned one iota since original publication—if anything, it’s growing, and morphing. We’re seeing new fans and other interested parties (read that, Hollywood Types) popping up in places we hadn’t anticipated. I guess that’s one of the signs that “Anna’s Secret Legacy” tells a story that is universal at its core. Yes, the setting, the characters, the particulars all come together to tell a story that’s set in a certain time in history. But my aim when writing the book was to create a story that would be just as valid 100 years from now as it is today—or during World War II. The tale, itself, is about one man, one woman, one especially suspenseful period of time.
But love—like other intangibles such as loyalty, patriotism, freedom—is an eternal value. And everyone, it seems, can embrace these values. So I find it to be particularly gratifying to receive emails from readers who tell me their own stories of love and intrigue, and how “Anna’s Secret Legacy” moved them, or made them think. Just as interesting are the notes I receive in which new-found friends tell me their own tales of love, loss, discovery and espionage. Writing responses to these communications is almost as satisfying as was writing the book. Sharing a story with so many good, thoughtful people unites me with people I might not have met before I wrote the book.
I’m in a new place now, one of reflection on the past—both World War II, and the time that I wrote the book—and of the present, and the future. The present is filled with swirling thoughts of offers, potential offers and decisions to be made. The future will be chock-full of writing: the final polish screenplay for the film, and the sequel to the original tome. And who knows what else will come with each passing minute, day, month? I can’t tell you what the future holds, but I do promise to keep you updated as we grow with this journey. The historic novel has its roots in one period of time, but—like the future that lies before me, before “Anna’s Secret Legacy”—the story contained within the covers will grow fearlessly as we walk bravely forth. I promise to take you all with me as we move into that fascinating new place—who knows? You may be inspired to create your own book and allow that book to take you to a wonderful, unforeseen future.
Its hard to believe but summer is over! I am excited to do a book singing for Angels in Flight for the Wings N Wheels community day this Sat, Sept 8th @t Wings Airfield in Blue Bell, PA from 10am-noon! Please join us and get your personally signed copy of WWII suspense story ‘Anna’s Secret Legacy’!
We have been working very hard- talking to producers and talent for the screenplay as well as working on the sequel. Please ‘like’ us on Facebook and check out our website http://www.annassecretlegacynovel.com. Many Thanks to all our wonderful fans and friends for the fantastic support and following. Now in 110 countries and almost 71,000 fb fans- I am grateful! Please help us get to 100,000. Available on Amazon, Kindle, B&N.com
Sunset over Perugia