Published : Wednesday, October 5, 2016 | 4:30 AM
Local author, historian and 24-year Pasadena Police Officer Victor Cass launched his new novel, “Black Widow Bitches”—a war epic about the first all-female combat infantry unit, the 135th Airborne Division, nicknamed “The Black Widows” because of their shoulder sleeve insignia—at an intimate book launch event at the Pasadena Main Library last Saturday that featured except reads from the author and an audience Q&A.
“My novel, ‘Black Widow Bitches,’ is a great study in leadership, not just in terms of the main protagonist, but for his subordinate leaders as well as all women — plucked from their civilian lives, molded into hardened killers — who have to command young women infantry under fire. The reader really gets immersed in what it’s like to lead people in combat,” said Cass about the 850 page novel.
“Black Widow Bitches” is Cass’ third novel and is published by Golden Foothill Press. The Pasadena native spent nearly a decade constructing the story.
“It’s a gritty, war book, with lots of harrowing and bloody combat scenes definitely not for the faint of heart. I got the idea for the story way back in the mid-nineties, while thinking about writing a war book. I wanted a unique story, one that had never been told before, and keep in mind, this was long before women were allowed to serve in combat,” said Cass about the writing process.
Cass is a John Muir High School alum and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and his Master of Arts Degree from American Military University in Manassas Park, Virginia.
He previously worked as an advertising art director in New York and is a 24-year veteran police officer/Field Training Officer. According to Cass, his books feature a universal theme.
“In “Black Widow Bitches”, I wanted to present this theme in the context of a war epic, and what better way than that of female soldiers striving to be accepted as airborne infantry, ostensibly in a ‘man’s world,’ facing enemies at home and abroad? Do they finally find acceptance by their infantrymen brethren? Does Captain Marin find redemption in leading the women soldiers? You’ll just have to find out,” said Cass.
The author’s previous books include the well-received novels “Love, Death, and Other War Stories” (2005) and “Telenovela” (2009), which was a “Top 10 Best Reviewed Books” on Living La Vida Latina.
“Leadership, especially in tense and sometimes life or death situations,has always been a big interest of mine,” said Cass about his writing style.
Cass’ short stories, articles, editorials, and essays have appeared in If&When, Arroyo Monthly Magazine, Mexican War Journal, Pasadena Weekly, Pasadena Star-News and other publications.
“Pasadena is a very literary and cultural city: from our proud heritage of neighborhood libraries, to our famous book stores, both new and used, this is a city that respects literature, respects its writers, and expects a lot from its writers. I’m in extremely good company, and there are a lot of great writers in this city, and in the San Gabriel Valley as well. I feel I have a duty, as an author from Pasadena, to continue to uphold its literary traditions. That’s why I’m very proud and humbled to be having the book launch for “Black Widow Bitches” at the Pasadena Main Library,” explained Cass.
“Black Widow Bitches” was listed as one of romance author Del Carmen’s “Top 5″ Summer reads and received a good review on the US Review of Books, according to Cass’s website. The novel was recently selected as a finalist in the 2016 Book Excellence Awards military category.
The audience members were very moved by the readings,” said Cass who read two selected passages from the novel to a crowd of approximately fifty listeners. “I talked about how we are on the verge of potentially electing our first ever female Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, and that women being able to serve in combat was one of the last “glass ceilings” facing women in our military today.
The book launch included an on-stage interview format with the author and publisher of Golden Foothills Press, Dr. Thelma T. Reyna. Blair High School Army Junior ROTC presented the colors followed by an audience Q&A. “Black Widow Bitches” is available for purchase at Vroman’s Bookstore located at 695 E Colorado Blvd. and online at Amazon andwww.victorcass.com.