We’re thrilled to be talking to Madeleine Toche from Soren Paul Petrek’s Wolves at Our Door. It is a pleasure to have her with us today!
Thank you for your interview, Madeleine. How old are you and what do you do for a living?
I’m 22 years old and I am an agent for the British Special Operations Executive. I am French and therefore work under cover in my home country. I target high ranking Nazi Gestapo and SS officers and I kill them. I may be called an assassin, but like my deceased brother, I am a soldier. If captured, I would be shot like so many of my brothers and sisters in the French military and Resistance.
Can you tell us about one of your most distinguishable features?
Like my mother, I’m considered attractive with dark features and dark brown eyes. My heritage is a mixture of Algerian and French Provencal. I love to wear my hair long. It’s so curly that I can’t do much with it anyway.
What would I love the most about you?
If you’re my friend, I will do anything for you. I am a loving and loyal person.
What would I hate the most about you?
I can come across as cold. It takes me a while to warm up to new people. I am also stubborn.
Where do you go when you are angry?
To a dark place inside me. I first experienced it when I was raped by a Nazi SS officer. I waited for the right time and killed him.
What makes you laugh out loud?
Simple things. My family runs a restaurant, nothing fancy but good food and local wine. When my brother and I were young we begged our parents to let us keep a stray dog. To our surprise they agreed, but the dog jumped on the counter in the kitchen and stole scraps. Eventually, he got so fat he couldn’t jump up to steal food anymore. I think my father expected that to happen. I can still see his face watching our dog try. That silly grin makes me laugh out loud.
What is in your refrigerator right now?
I like to work with fresh meats and produce. The best dishes are simple ones. I always have onions and garlic, tomatoes and stock. We eat what we serve at our restaurant and grow our own herbs. I grew up by the sea, fish is essential.
What is your most treasured possession?
The crucifix that hung around my brother, Yves neck when he was killed during the Nazi invasion of France.
What is your greatest fear?
The death and torture of people that I love.
What is the trait you most not like about yourself?
That killing has become so easy for me. I’m not the same person that I was.
Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?
Yes, he provides a balance between my light and dark sides.
What is your idea of a perfect day?
A picnic in our back garden, with family friends and a bit of shade from the fierce Provencal sun.
What are three must haves when shopping at the grocery store?
Wine, cheese and fresh baguettes.
I’m opening up your cabinet. What foods do I see?
I like to pickle things from our garden. I love dill pickles and beets. I could eat them all day.
If you could change one physical thing about yourself, what would that be?
I’m petite. I think that I’d like to be an inch or two taller.
Are you a loner or do you prefer to surround yourself with friends?
I’ve spent so much time alone that I treasure being among the people I love.
Who is your best friend?
She was Gabrielle. She and her toddler, Antoinette were burned alive by the Nazi SS during the mass murder of civilians at the village of Oradour-sur-Glane.
Do you have children?
Not now, but I love children. Before I became an assassin, I helped Jewish children escape from the Nazis as part of a local Resistance group.
What is your favorite weather?
Blue skies at the beach with a cooling breeze.
What’s your idea of a perfect meal?
Daube, a simple French beef stew, a hearty burgundy, and a crisp salad to finish. I’d sneak in a big piece of chocolate torte too.
Someone is secretly in love with you. Who is it and how do you feel about that?
Men look at me all of the time as a sex object. The real me might terrify them.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to stay and grow old at Chex Toche, our family restaurant. It’s been open for more than two-hundred years.
What is your most treasured possession?
My wedding ring. It is very expensive and a gift from my husband’s father, a feared gangster who runs the London docks. He refused to allow his son to follow in his footsteps.
Do you like to cook? If so, what is your favorite thing to cook?
I am a professional cook. Anything lamb is a treat and so easy to prepare.
If you knew you were going to die tomorrow, what would you do today?
My mission is so dangerous that I expect to die every day. In preparation I would destroy the largest Nazi headquarters that I could locate. Nazis are evil. Never forget that.
Soren Petrek is a practicing criminal trial attorney, admitted to the Minnesota Bar in 1991. Married with two adult children, Soren continues to live and work in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Educated in the U.S., England and France Soren sat his O-level examinations at the Heathland School in Hounslow, London in 1981. His undergraduate degree in Forestry is from the University of Minnesota, 1986. His law degree is from William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota 1991.
Soren’s novel, Cold Lonely Couragewon Fade In Magazine’s2009 Award for Fiction. Fade Inwas voted the nation’s favorite movie magazine by the Washington Postand the L.A. Timesin 2011 and 2012.
The French edition of Cold Lonely Courage, Courage was published January 2019, by Encre Rouge Editions, distributed by Hachette Livre in 60 countries. Soren’s contemporary novel,Tim will be released along with the rest of the books in the Madeleine Toche series of historical thrillers.