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Archive for the tag “WW2”

Blog Tour – ‘Echo Hall’ by Virginia Moffatt ~ @aroomofmyown1 @unbounders @damppebbles #damppebblesblogtours

I am absolutely thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour today.  ‘Echo Hall’ by Virginia Moffatt was published on the 28th November 2017 by Unbound and is available in paperback, eBook and Audiobook formats.

I would like to thank Emma Welton of Damppebbles Blog Tours for inviting me to participate.

I have an extract from ‘Echo Hall’ for all of you.

 

Book Blurb

Set against the backdrop of three wars – the 1991 Gulf War, World War 2 and World War 1 – the novel follows the fortunes of three women who become involved with the Flint family, the owners of Echo Hall.

Phoebe Flint visits Echo Hall in 2014, where she follows in her mother’s footsteps to uncover the stories of a house ‘full of unhappy women, and bitter, angry men’.

Ruth Flint arrives at Echo Hall in 1990 – newlywed, pregnant, and uncertain of her relationship with her husband, Adam. Ghostly encounters, a locked door, and a set of photographs pique her curiosity. But Adam and his grandfather refuse to let her investigate. And her marriage is further strained, when Adam, a reservist, is called up to fight in the Gulf War.

In 1942, Elsie Flint is already living at Echo Hall with her children, the guest of her unsympathetic in-laws, whilst her husband Jack is away with the RAF. Her only friend is Jack’s cousin Daniel, but Daniel is hiding secrets, which when revealed could destroy their friendship for good.

Rachel and Leah Walters meet Jacob Flint at a dinner party in 1911. Whilst Leah is drawn to Jacob, Rachel rejects him leading to conflict with her sister that will reverberate through the generations.

As Ruth discovers the secrets of Echo Hall, she is able to finally bring peace to the Flint family, and in doing so, discover what she really needs and wants.

Echo Hall is a novel about the past, but it is very much a novel of the now. Does history always have to repeat itself, or can we find another way?

 

Extract

2014

I should not remember this place, and yet every step towards the house unnerves me with its familiarity. The war memorial on the road from the village, the aromatic scent of the fir trees guarding the estate, the cawing of the rooks circling overhead, remind me that I have been here before. I was only a year old when I left. It should not be possible for me to remember this, and yet I do.

Perhaps it is because the stories our mothers tell us embed themselves so firmly in our DNA it is as if we lived the experience too. Or the location of our birth imprints itself upon our psyche, so that when we return it is as if we never left. Or perhaps it is just that Echo Hall has been on the edge of my memory for so long that being here feels like a homecoming.

Nonetheless, I hesitate before I pass through the large oak doorway, unsure whether I am prepared to become a tourist in my own life. Maybe it is enough to have reached its hard, grey walls, gazed up at the unforgiving windows, seen the skies louring overhead. And then I think how coincidental it is that I am visiting Sandstown on the weekend the National Trust has chosen to open the house. I realise the chance to visit my first home is too good an opportunity to miss; if I cross the threshold I might understand the past more fully.

So I enter, pay the fee and pick up a brochure describing the history of the Flints – a dry tale of dust and stone, slate and finance that misses the point entirely. Standing here, in the dark lobby, the grandfather clock in its rightful place, I am overwhelmed with a familiar sense of sadness. The ghosts may be long gone, but Mum was right – unhappiness seeps through the walls, even now.

I decide to begin at my beginning. I know exactly where to go: through the green baize door passing the old servants’ kitchens and turning right into the main kitchen. It has been reconstructed as it would have been 100 years ago, in my great-great-grandmother’s time, just before the war to end all wars. On the night Mum’s waters broke in here, there was an old gas cooker, an oak table and Formica cupboards on the walls. Now, the cooker has been replaced by a Victorian range; wooden shelves line the walls, piled with the cooking implements of the period; the table is laid as if the cook is about to prepare a meal, the walls adorned with recipes and household instructions relating to the Edwardian era. It is as if time has looped back on itself, returning the house to its starting point.

I wander back to the hall and enter the living room on the west side of the house – the site of my birth. An elderly couple are already there, examining the display of furniture separated from the rest of the room by a rope. The man is reading out a description of life for the lady of the house in a loud voice. The narrative grates; it bears no relation to reality – my great-great-grandmother was a dour woman, with no time for worldly distractions. It was her sister who enjoyed the finer things in life, although she lost them all in the end. The man finishes; his wife nods with interest, and they depart, leaving me alone.

I close my eyes, remembering Mum’s description of my delivery: how she crouched on all fours, gripping the sofa legs, grunting and screaming as I pushed my way from the silence of her womb into a dizzying new world. For a moment, I imagine I am there: the feelings are so strong my body shakes as if once more I am making that dark dangerous journey into life. I open my eyes, and steady myself on the wall. There is definitely something about this house; no wonder it had such a powerful effect on Mum.

My phone buzzes. It’s Dad:

How’s the revolution going , Comrade Phoebe?

He does love to tease. I’m about to text him an Emma Goldman quote when I remember it should be off. I shove it in my pocket. I will call him later for our weekly bout of political sparring, and tell him about this trip; but for now, I want to explore further. To my disappointment, most of the East Wing and the upstairs are still closed to the public. I glance at my watch. It is two o’clock; I have to be back at the conference by six. There is time for a walk, at least. I traipse back down the corridor by the kitchens, and out through the back garden. I climb the hill. I know instinctively where I will find the gap in the hedge, the gate through to the woods that will take me to Arthur’s Stone.

And, as I follow my mother’s footsteps, her stories lead me on.

 

About Virginia Moffatt

Virginia Moffatt was born in London, one of eight children, several of whom are writers. ‘The Wave’ is her second novel. Her previous publications are ‘Echo Hall’ (Unbound) and ‘Rapture and what comes after’ (Flash fiction collection published by Gumbo Press). She also writes non fiction. Virginia is married to Chris Cole, Director of Drone Wars UK. They have two daughters at University and a son still living with them in Oxford.

 

Links

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/aroomofmyown1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/virginiamoffattauthor/

Website: https://virginiamoffattwriter.wordpress.com/

 

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/3ggdZxJ

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/39IOFOn

Blackwells: https://bit.ly/3ffdouO

Waterstones: https://bit.ly/3gfNjgw

Hive.co.uk: https://bit.ly/3fiaV2C

 

 

Blog Tour – ‘The Brave Daughters’ by Mary Wood ~ @panmacmillan @Authormary

‘The Brave Daughters’ by Mary Wood is the fourth book in The Girls Who Went to War series.  It was published in paperback, as an eBook and Audiobook on the 14th May 2020 by Pan.

I would like to thank the publisher for inviting me to participate in this tour.  I am running my post a few days later than my original date as I am hosting an extract and it was better that they were kept in order so as not to confuse readers.

Before the extract lets take a look at the book blurb.

 

Book Blurb

A moving and emotional family drama set between France and Britain from bestselling author, Mary Wood.

They would fight for their country, at all costs . . .

When Sibbie and Marjie arrive at RAF Digby, they are about to take on roles of national importance. It’s a cause of great excitement for everyone around them. Perhaps they will become code-breakers, spies even? Soon the pair embark on a rigorous training regime, but nothing can prepare them for what they’re about to face . . .

Amid the vineyards of rural France, Flora and Ella can’t bear the thought of another war. But as the thunderclouds grow darker, hanging over Europe, a sense of deep foreboding sets in, not just for their safety but for the fate of their families . . . With danger looming, as the threat of war becomes real, Flora and Ella are forced to leave their idyllic home and flee. Can they make it to safety, or will the war have further horrors in store for them?

 

Extract

CHAPTER TWO

Laurens, Hérault, France Ella and Flors

Flors smiled bravely as she stood on her doorstep and waved and waved until her husband Cyrus’s car, carrying their sons, Freddy and Randolph, was out of sight. The agony that she and Cyrus had been through, since the conscription papers had arrived, had almost defeated her. Now the pain set in, as the reality of what Freddy and Randie would face if war broke out took root.

Ella stood by her side. ‘Come on, Flors, let’s do as the British do and put the kettle on.’

‘Oh, Ella, to think of them having gone is unbearable.’

Ella clutched Flors’s hand even tighter and whispered, ‘Hug?’

Painful memories of the past and fears for the uncertain future vied for prominence in Flors’s heart as they hugged tightly. She knew that dear Ella would be feeling these same emotions, too.

As they emerged from the hug, they linked arms and went into the kitchen. A snore made them both jump, and nervous giggles consumed them. Rowena could sleep through any – thing when she was in her favourite rocking chair by the side of the stove. Even on a hot day like today, she professed that she felt the cold in her old bones. Rowena had known Flors since her childhood in Stepney, and now lived with her.

Flors felt glad of the light-hearted moment. She’d been on the brink of crying, but hadn’t wanted to; she’d save her tears for her own bed at night, when she was snuggled into the arms of her beloved Cyrus. Sighing, she told Ella, ‘It’s as if my nest is emptying all at once.’

‘I know. My darling Arnie is even saying that he will volunteer, if Britain ever comes under threat. And Paulo talks of going too, if necessary. It doesn’t bear thinking about.’

‘Oh no. Oh, Ella, everything we know and have built up, since the terrible things we went through in the last war, is under threat.’

‘They say we should be safe here in the South of France, and it’s the north-east that will bear the brunt, if an invasion does happen. But Hitler is threatening Poland at the moment, and I’m so worried about my sister, Calek.’

‘I don’t know what to say, Ella. We can only pray that the Germans don’t succeed in their quest to invade Poland, or that a miracle happens and they heed Chamberlain’s ultimatum.’

‘They have to. Oh, Flors, it’s Calek’s and Abram’s only chance; I fear they are in grave danger. Look at how Germany is treating its Jewish community, if the rumours of their cruel treatment are to be believed . . . Oh God, I can’t think about it. My dear nephew Zabrim is only fourteen.’

‘And there’s no answer to your last letter yet? Surely they will take up your offer to come here?’

‘I am praying for that, but I haven’t heard from them. At least if they sent Zabrim to me, that would ease my mind a little. I’m thinking of going to Poland to find out how they are. I checked and all the trains are still running. Maybe if I do, I can persuade them to come back with me.’

‘No, Ella, no! It’s too dangerous. Please think again, Ella, please. What does Arnie say about it?’

‘I haven’t discussed it with him.’

‘You haven’t discussed what, darling?’

‘Oh, Arnie, I didn’t see you. I – I . . . well, nothing – nothing really. I’ll tell you later.’

‘There’s no time like now. If you can share whatever it is with Flors, then you can share it with your husband, can’t you? Come on, old thing, what is it?’

As Ella poured out her thoughts, Arnie surprised Flors with his response. ‘I think that unless you do this, you will have an agonizing few years ahead of you, Ella – and I don’t want that. But I also think that you should wait to see if Hitler decides to take heed of Britain and France’s ultimatum – which I don’t think he will. If he doesn’t and invades Poland, it will be too dangerous for you to even think of going.’

Flors couldn’t believe the enormity of what Ella had proposed, and even less so that Arnie was partially agreeing that she should go to Poland. After all, she had the feeling that Hitler would find a way of doing as he had in Czechoslovakia and fully invade Poland. And what if that happened when Ella was there? ‘

I know what you’re thinking, Flors, but I understand Ella better than she does herself. Now that she has her family back in her life, it will kill her to think of the unspeakable things that might happen to them under a German regime.

 

‘The Brave Daughters’ is available to purchase from:-

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Brave-Daughters-Girls-Who-Went/dp/1509892613/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1589732367&sr=8-1

 

About Mary Wood

Born in Maidstone, Kent, in 1945, the thirteenth child of fifteen children, Mary’s family settled in Leicestershire after the war ended.

Mary married young and now, after 54 years of happy marriage, four children, 12 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren, Mary and her husband live in Blackpool during the summer and Spain during the winter – a place that Mary calls, ‘her writing retreat’.

After many jobs from cleaning to catering, all chosen to fit in with bringing up her family, and boost the family money-pot, Mary ended her 9 – 5 working days as a Probation Service Officer, a job that showed her another side to life, and which influences her writing, bringing a realism and grittiness to her novels

Mary first put pen to paper, in 1989, but it wasn’t until 2010 that she finally found some success by self-publishing on kindle.

Being spotted by an editor at Pan Macmillan in 2013, finally saw Mary reach her publishing dream.

When not writing, Mary enjoys family time, reading, eating out, and gardening. One of her favourite pastimes is interacting with her readers on her Facebook page.

Mary welcomes all contact with her readers and feedback on her work.

 

Links

Website – https://www.authormarywood.com/

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/HistoricalNovels

Twitter – https://twitter.com/Authormary

 

Guest Post by Mark Ellis ~ @midaspr @MarkEllis15

It is a real pleasure having Mark Ellis as a guest on my blog today.  His latest book, ‘A Death in Mayfair’, the fourth book in the DCI Frank Merlin series, was published last November in paperback, as an eBook and Audiobook by Accent Press.

Mark has written a post about the research he has undertaken for his books.

 

Researching The World War Two Frank Merlin Detective Series

With this month’s VE Day Anniversary, public interest in World War Two has once again been high. This pleases me as the period is fascinating and one in which I spend considerable time as the author of a series of wartime crime thrillers. My hero, Detective Chief Inspector Frank Merlin, is a Scotland Yard policeman investigating serious crime in London. The series follows his adventures through the war sequentially. Four books have been published so far and I am writing the fifth. The first of the series, Princes Gate, is set in January 1940, at the time of the so-called ‘Phoney War’. The second, Stalin’s Gold, is set in September 1940, at the beginning of the Blitz and the Battle of Britain. The action of the third, Merlin At War, takes place in June 1941, just before Hitler’s invasion of Russia. A Death In Mayfair, the recently published fourth Merlin book is set in December 1941, the month in which the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour.

A considerable amount of research goes into the writing of the Frank Merlin series. I aim to set the Merlin stories against as realistic a historical background as I can. Before starting to write I spend around three months reading everything I can about the book’s particular period setting. When I started out with Princes Gate, I was very reliant on libraries for my research. I spent much time in particular at the Public Records Office in Kew where they had an abundance of helpful books and documents. Since then, as the amount of online information has proliferated, libraries have become less vital, although I still use them. The internet is an amazing source. If I want to find out the weather in London on a specific day in the war, I can find details online. If I want to find out which RAF squadrons were in the air on a particular day in the Battle of Britain, the internet can tell me. And so on.

Apart from the internet and libraries, I have a useful book collection of my own. It includes several excellent histories of life on the Home Front (eg Philip Ziegler, Juliet Gardiner, Angus Calder), great wartime diaries (Harold Nicolson, Chips Channon, Alan Brooke), memoirs and biographies (Churchill, De Gaulle, Eisenhower) and works of period fiction (Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, Elizabeth Bowen). I also travel for purposes of research. While the action of the Merlin books takes place mostly in London, other locations occasionally feature. These have included Berlin, Paris, Buenos Aires, Miami, Moscow, Berlin, Vichy, New York and Cairo, a number of which I have been able to visit.

When I write a book I do not work to an advance framework of the plot. After the initial period of research, I set out on the first draft with plot lines which have come to my mind during that process. With the most recent Merlin book, A Death In Mayfair, my research drew me to the British wartime film industry. I learned that there were as many as fifteen film studios in and around London in the early years of the war. This struck me as a large number and further reading provided interesting detail on cinema in the war years and of its importance to the British public. I thus decided to set the story of A Death In Mayfair against a background of movie stars, directors and producers making films in a fictional film studio beside the River Thames. As I began to write, I set various plot lines running and went where they took me. Then, as is my method, when I was about three quarters of the way through the draft, I worked out how the plots were resolved. This can be a rather nerve-wracking process but somehow it seems to work for me.

The new work in progress, the fifth Merlin book, is set in August 1942. The plot revolves around art theft, espionage and racism in the US forces. My preliminary research included books on wartime Lisbon, the art world, and the arrival of American GIs in Britain. As I’m not yet half way through the draft, I have no idea yet about what will happen. Thus I’m as excited by the development of the story as I hope readers are when it hits the bookshops! It will be out next year.

 

Book Blurb

December 1941. Japanese planes swoop down and attack Pearl Harbour. America enters the war and Britain no longer stands alone against Hitler. But conditions on the home front remain bleak, and for Scotland Yard detective Frank Merlin, life is as arduous as ever.  He is diverted from his tenacious campaign against London’s organised criminal gangs by the violent deaths of two young women in the centre of the city. Merlin investigates and encounters fraudulent film moguls, dissipated movie stars, mad Satanists, and brutal gangsters amongst others as he and his team battle to uncover the and search out the truth.

 

‘A Death in Mayfair’ can be purchased from:-

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Merlin-Noir-DCI-Frank-Novel/dp/1786156725/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=a+death+in+mayfair&qid=1589374554&sr=8-1

Waterstones – https://www.waterstones.com/book/a-death-in-mayfair/mark-ellis/9781786156723

 

About Mark Ellis

Mark Ellis is a thriller writer from Swansea and a former barrister. He is the creator of DCI Frank Merlin, an Anglo-Spanish police detective operating in World War 2 London. His books treat the reader to a vivid portrait of London during the war.

Mark grew up under the shadow of his parents’ experience of the Second World War. He has always been fascinated by the fact that while the nation was engaged in a heroic endeavour, crime flourished. His father served in the wartime navy and died a young man. His mother told him stories of watching the heavy bombardment of Swansea from the safe vantage point of a hill in Llanelli, and of attending tea dances in wartime London under the bombs and doodlebugs.

In consequence Mark has always been fascinated by WW2 and in particular the Home Front and the fact that while the nation was engaged in a heroic endeavour, crime flourished. Murder, robbery, theft and rape were rife and the Blitz provided scope for widespread looting.This was an intriguing, harsh and cruel world. This is the world of DCI Frank Merlin.

Mark Ellis’ books regularly appear in the Kindle bestseller charts. He is a member of the Crime Writers Association (CWA). His most recent book, Merlin at War, was on the CWA Historical Dagger Longlist in 2018. A Death in Mayfair will be published in November 2019.

 

Links

Website – https://markellisauthor.com/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/MarkEllis15

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/MarkEllisAuthor

 

Cover Reveal – ‘Britain’s Wartime Evacuees’ by Gillian Mawson

Layout 1

I am delighted to be revealing the cover of Gillian Mawson’s new book, which is out on the 30th November published by Frontline Books.  Isn’t it wonderful?

Gillian’s book contains the testimony of children, mothers and teachers who were evacuated during the Second World War in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. There are also stories from those who sought safety on the UK mainland from Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney and Gibraltar. Chapters focus on the difficult decisions made by parents to send their children away, the journeys by train and ship, adjustment to life in a new area and the kindness shown to evacuees by British communities.

The darker side of evacuation is also revealed – some households refused to care for evacuees, others were cruel to the children and some died. Evacuees were killed within days of arriving in supposedly ‘safe’ areas. They drowned, perished in air raids or were killed by military vehicles driving too quickly around narrow streets. An MP in the House of Commons voiced his fears that, if these incidents were revealed to the public, mothers might demand that their children be sent back home!

The book also reveals emotional letters written between evacuees, their parents and their wartime ‘foster parents’ which are still treasured today. Evacuees describe going home in 1945 after five years of separation from their parents. Some did not want to leave the ‘foster parents’ they had come to love – to them, this was ‘evacuation’ all over again and very traumatic. Many stayed in touch with their beloved foster parents for the rest of their lives.

‘Britain’s Wartime Evacuees: The People, Places and Stories of the Evacuations Told Through the Accounts of Those Who Were Thereis published on 30 November 2016 and can be pre ordered here: http://amzn.to/2cp8Wug

 

About Gillian Mawson

Gillian Mawson is a freelance historian with a huge interest in oral history. She has been interviewing evacuees since 2008 and this is her third book. She runs a community group for Guernsey evacuees who decided to remain in Manchester when the war ended. She lives in Derbyshire and her wartime blog can be found at: https://evacueesofworldwartwo.wordpress.com/

 

Interview with Justin Sheedy

author-picture

I would like to introduce you all to Justin Sheedy.  For a while now my husband has been following him on social media and has expressed an interest in reading his books and I must admit that I am rather tempted by them too.  I wanted to interview Justin and was really pleased when he agreed to one.

 

Firstly, can you tell me a bit about the types of books you write please?

I write in two distinct styles: Firstly my make-you-laugh-and-cry portraits of childhood, teenage & growing up in 1970s & 80s Australia, “Goodbye Crackernight” & “Memoirs of a Go-Go Dancer”. (Yes, my first job out of school.) These two books have been warmly received by readers as they’re not just My story but OUR story, a mirror to US.

goodbye-crackernight

memoirs-of-a-go-go-dancer-by-justin-sheedy

Secondly, my more serious World War Two historical fictions, “Nor the Years Condemn”, “Ghosts of the Empire”, and my just-published “No Greater Love”. Bringing to life the stunning true saga of Australian, British and Commonwealth pilots and aircrew in World War Two, though hyper-accurate to the true history, I’ve written them as historical fictions so as to engage readers with the shining young characters who made the true history, the loss of such shining young characters rendering my stories the true anti-war portraits I intended them to be.

nor-the-years-condemn

ghosts-of-the-empire

no-greater-love-by-justin-sheedy

 

What made you decide to write about World War Two?

Well, imagine your grandfather, when he was 21, was a real-life young superman loved & respected by all around him. Then he volunteered to fight against the worst evil imaginable, crossed the earth to do it, fought against it in the most exciting way possible and WON, only to end up an old man surrounded by the forever 21-year-old ghosts of all his friends. And it’s all true. How could one NOT want to write a story about that?

 

Did you have to do much research?

A massive amount. Reading, documentaries, online research, emailing museums & local councils particularly in the UK as that’s where my war stories are chiefly set. And people can be so enthusiastically helpful. Just for example, for “Nor the Years Condemn”, book 1 in my trilogy, the local council of Callander in Scotland emailed me mile-by-mile maps of the area between Loch Leven and Loch Lubnaig so my Australian pilot’s first (training) flight in a Spitfire would be as accurate as possible, tearing around the summit of Ben Ledi then super low up Loch Lubnaig though the forest of Strathyre. Their final note, “The RAF jets do it to this day!” was just one of those wonderful conincidences. I also interviewed about 5 Australian WWII veterans, pilots & aircrew who at 90+ looked 70+ as they were basically Olympian/Formula 1 calibre young men back in the day. And so modest! One flew a Kittyhawk fighter and apologised to me that he had not been in an actual dog-fight, only in ground attack. I almost fell off my chair.

 

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Well, one gets more efficient with each book one writes but my most recent, “No Greater Love”, a 360+ page novel, took me a year and a half.

 

What are you working on now?

A novella entitled “Other People’s Wars” which will be a free ebook as a promotional tool for my war trilogy. For release at the end of this year, it will feature starring characters and key themes from my trilogy. Importantly though, each book in the trilogy stands on its own, written to be read in any order; parallel adventures in the same mighty saga.

 

Do you have a favourite place where you go to write?

I’m ALWAYS writing in my head. Can’t help it. No matter where I am.

 

Would you like to see any of your books made into a film and if so, which actors/actresses would you like to play the parts?

It’s my dream & holy grail. If I had a dime for every time people have vowed my books should be movies, I’d be rich.  And the question of which actors/actresses might play the parts has long fascinated me. The tricky thing is that, if cast accurately re age, they’d all have to be 21 as that was the average age of fighter pilots in World War II. (The ‘old man’ of the squadron was 25!) It’s key to my war stories: they’re heroic, tragic portraits of shining Youth. Though I assume in this cinema day & age they’d have “star” 30-somethings playing the roles not 21-year-old newcomers. For my latest book, “No Greater Love”, for its main character, Spitfire pilot rough-diamond Aussie Colin Stone (“Stoney”), when writing I always thought of a young Bryan Brown, a beloved Australian actor, as he was in the 1979 classic, “Breaker Morant”.

 

How important is social media to you?

Oh it’s essential. For ongoing publicity for my books, book-signing events and reviews. It is, in fact, the very reason I have the privilege of taking part in this interview as you & I got in contact through Facebook.

 

What’s your advice for anyone wanting to write their first book?

Come up with a brilliant idea then re-write it 20 times until your book ends up the book it Deserves to be.

 

Do you think you’ll ever come to the UK to do book signings?

I would very, very dearly love to. Before I can, however, my books must be able to be stocked on the shelves of the Waterstones bookstore chain. This is being wrangled by my Australian book distribution company as I write this. (At the moment my books are only available as print-on-demand paperbacks from Waterstones online which is wonderful but my goal is to be signing books in Waterstones Piccadilly.)

 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love reading, classic TV & movies, comedy, music, pop culture & aviation, also historical documentaries, Mediterranean cooking, white wine, skiing, mountains and snow.

 

Who are your favourite authors?

So many but in the context of my ‘growing up’ stories, Clive James, Roald Dahl, Bill Bryson, for my war stories, Ken Follett & Roald Dahl once again (“Going Solo” possibly my favourite book of all time), Kate Grenville, Tim Winton & Peter Carey for their emotive Australian historical fictions.

 

About Justin Sheedy

Justin Sheedy had his first book, “Goodbye Crackernight”, published in 2009, a comic memoir of growing up in 1970s Australia, back in a long-lost era when a child’s proudest possession was not a Playstation but a second-hand bike. “Goodbye Crackernight” was so warmly received by Australian readers that it secured Justin a place on the program of the prestigious Byron Bay Writers’ Festival 2010.

In 2012 Justin released “Nor the Years Condemn”, an historical fiction based on the stunning true story of the young Australian fighter pilots of World War Two. A tale as exhilaratingly heroic as it is tragic, “Nor the Years Condemn” is a portrait of shining young men destined never to grow old, and of those who do: the survivors ‘condemned by the years’, and to their memory of friends who remain forever young.

In 2013 he released “Ghosts of the Empire”, Book 2 in his “Nor the Years Condemn” series, and to Rave Reviews.

In 2014 he released “Memoirs of a Go-Go Dancer”, his long-awaited sequel to “Goodbye Crackernight”. “Memoirs of a Go-Go Dancer” is Justin’s rock & roll portrait of teenage in the 1980s under the threat of nuclear annihilation before he ever kissed a girl. Rave Reviews have once again flooded in.

Justin has just released his 5th book, “No Greater Love”, Part 3 in his “Nor the Years Condemn” trilogy. After a sell-out book-launch at Australia’s premier bookstore, the iconic Dymocks George Street Sydney, rave reviews for “No Greater Love” have already been received – see at the book’s Amazon listing along with Amazon 5-Star ratings.

Justin’s books are available in Kindle & paperback at Amazon, Dymocks bookstores, Waterstones & Barnes and Noble Online, The Book Depository and via ALL bookstores. Justin relishes signing copies of his books at regular bookstore events and would love to hear from you at his Facebook pages, on Twitter or at his blog, Crackernight.com. He lives in Sydney, Australia.

 

Book Links

Amazon / Amazon UK / Waterstones online / Barnes & Noble online / The Book Depository / Dymocks bookstores across Australia.

 

‘The Constant Soldier’ by William Ryan

the-constant-soldier

‘The Constant Soldier’ was published on the 25th August 2016 by Mantle, an imprint of Pan Macmillan.  I was interested in reading this book and got my proof copy from NetGalley.

It is 1944 and Paul Brandt, a soldier in the German army returns home badly wounded from the Eastern front.  The village has changed a lot and certainly not for the better either.  A SS rest hut has been set up as a luxurious retreat for those who manage the concentration camps.  It is run with the help of a small group of female prisoners who against all odds have so far survived the war.

Just by chance Brandt catches sight of one of the prisoners and he knows instantly that he must somehow gain access to the rest hut whatever it takes.  Inside is the woman to whom his fate has been tied since their arrest five years ago and he feels he must do what he can to protect her.

As the Russian offensive moves ever closer, the days of the SS rest hut and its inhabitants are numbered.  While there is hope there is also impending danger.  Will Brandt and the female prisoners survive?

Over the last few months there has been a lot of talk about ‘The Constant Soldier’.  Having now read this book for myself I can see exactly why.  The writing is absolutely superb and of the highest quality.  From the very first chapter I was drawn into the story.  So clear were the descriptions that I could actually picture some of the scenes in my head.

There were a lot of characters in this book, Paul Brandt being my favourite.  I thought he was really brave.  I felt sorry for the female prisoners.  The way they were treated at times was abominable.  And those poor refugees!

It’s easy to forget sometimes just how much work goes into writing a book.  An author can spend years slaving over their next title.  With ‘The Constant Soldier’ it was obvious that a lot of research had been done.  This is confirmed by the lovely author’s note at the end.

‘The Constant Solider’ is a must read.  It is a powerful, emotional and thought provoking story about war, guilt, loss and survival.  This book will stay with me for a long time and it is definitely going on my list of favourites for 2016.  Thank you for a wonderful read.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

 

Cover Reveal – ‘Occupying Love’ by Marilyn Chapman

Book Cover

This is the wonderful cover for ‘Occupying Love’ by Marilyn Chapman which is out on the 24th June.  Read on for more information.

 

Book Blurb

With the Nazis poised to invade Guernsey in World War Two, feisty student Lydia Le Page returns home to rescue her parents, but as she arrives the harbour is bombed and she’s trapped on the island as the German Military Occupation begins.

Two very different men enter her life: Martin Martell, the handsome but mysterious rector of Torteval Church and Major Otto Kruger, the ruthless German Kommandant, who soon falls under her spell.

When Martin disappears Lydia discovers a secret from her past that threatens her whole future. Will she be able to keep it from the enemy? Or is it too late?  This is a story about love, loss and the unique identity that makes us who we are.

 

Background to ‘Occupying Love’

Guernsey-born journalist Marilyn Chapman read almost every novel written about the Occupation of the Channel Islands, but none sounded quite like the stories her grandparents told her as a child.

Marilyn, who now lives on the Lancashire coast, learnt about life under German rule when Guernsey was occupied by Hitler’s troops in World War Two, and the memories have always stayed with her. The result is Occupying Love which she describes as ‘a fictional account of love, loss, bravery and heartbreak, as well as defiance and hope.’

‘My grandmother refused to acknowledge the German soldiers and even hid cheese in the stair rods at her home, rather than let the food be taken,’ says Marilyn. Eventually the couple’s home was requisitioned by the Germans but they never gave up hope that the island as they knew it would survive.’

Marilyn began her career as a reporter on the Blackpool Evening Gazette, later freelancing for national newspapers and magazines.

Her debut novel Baggy Pants and Bootees was published in 2014 giving her the confidence to finally follow her dream.

 

‘Occupying Love’ is available to pre-order from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Occupying-Love-Marilyn-Chapman-ebook/dp/B01H0MCYA4/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1466078531&sr=1-1&keywords=occupying+love

 

Interview with Marion Kenyon Jones

Pippo's War cover

Marion Kenyon Jones recently had her debut novel published.  Marion was interested in being interviewed for my blog.

 

Can you tell me a bit about your book please?

This sweeping Historical novel begins in the Italian countryside during the last months of World War II, and will span the globe. Pippo is the teenage son of an Italian father and British mother. His father is a diplomat who turns against Mussolini, and is imprisoned. His mother Rose is forced to take refuge with her two sons (Pippo, and his younger brother Benni, who is autistic) at a magnificent, but neglected villa offered them by Pippo’s wealthy godmother. Rose also rescues Hannah, a seventeen year old jewish girl.

Coming of age is hard enough for Pippo, but his father’s arrest causes him to question the old family allegiance to the Fascist cause. His mother, originally aligned with Italy against her native Britain, decides to hide escaped allied soldiers from the occupying Nazis, and finds that love and war often go hand in hand.

Pippo and Hannah begin a romance. He feels a special empathy for someone whose family history has been turned upside down. (Hannah’s father was a loyal Italian Jew, who was betrayed by people he thought of as his fellow countrymen.)

The family are drawn into the Resistance and there is an increasingly menacing undertone of war, which erupts with tragic consequences as the retreating German army arrive in the area. Pippo and Hannah are forced apart. As paths divide and fates collide, can one young man fly in the face of all opposition to be with the one he loves?

Pippo’s war is an historical novel full of period detail, a love story, and a classic coming-of-age tale.

(If you enjoyed: The English Patient, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, or the more recent: In love and war, this could be the book for you.)

 

Did you have to do any research for it?

Yes, I am fortunate enough to have lived in Italy for many years, and am grateful to neighbours and friends who shared their stories with me. I talked to veterans of the Italian campaign (Now very elderly!) and I read a great deal about the history of the period.

 

Where did you get your ideas from?

There is a memorial plaque in the Italian village where I live which is dedicated to the memory of a group of young partisans who lost their lives. It sparked my interest.

I met a man who shares much in common with Pippo. The book is a work of fiction, but it is informed by his experiences, and those of many others.

The descriptive passages in Pippo’s War are inspired by the incomparable beauty of Italy’s landscape, buildings and art.

 

Do you sometimes wake up in the middle of the night with new ideas which you have to write down quickly?

Yes!

 

Did it take you a long time to write?

I spent five years writing Pippo’s War, but the ideas had been forming in my mind for many years before, and the historical research took time.

 

Do you have a favourite place where you do your writing?

Yes, I have a tiny study crammed with books. There is a window overlooking the garden which fills the space with light, and above my desk are a collection of small paintings from the days when I was a practising artist.

 

Can we look forward to more books?

I am researching the story of a woman artist and traveller from the 18c. The working title is: The life and times of Angelica Finch.

 

Describe a day in your life.

I start the day skimming the news on my phone (in bed with a cup of coffee!)  I am learning about twitter and Facebook, and have a quick look at those before Holly the lurcher barks for her breakfast. We head for the kitchen together, and then she takes me for a brisk walk.

Each day is different, but I usually spend at least two hours in the morning and another two in the afternoon either writing or researching. If the writing is going well, I keep going!

My favourite evenings are spent at home with my historian husband. After supper we curl up with a box set or a book.

 

Who are your favourite authors?

There are so many! Classics: Trollop, George Eliot, Jane Austen, 20c: Anthony Burgess, Evelyn Waugh, Freya Stark, Pat Barker. Current reading: Marilynne Robinson, Tim Winton, Lydia Davis, Hilary Mantel. I could go on…

 

What do you do in your spare time?

I travel as much as I can, and I love to visit museums and galleries. I walk a great deal and of course I devour books.

 

 

About Marion Kenyon Jones

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Marion was born in London in 1949 and trained as a sculptor in Paris. In 1974 she moved to the United States and took up painting. In 1982 she began to divide her time between her studio in Italy and New York where she regularly exhibited her work. During this period she wrote short stories about her summers on a small holding in the Tuscan Hills, and became interested in the local history.

After a hiatus during which she married, raised two children and took an MA at the Tavistock Centre in London, she began work on her debut novel Pippo’s War which was published in May 2015.

She continues to visit Italy regularly and is researching her second novel.

 

Links

Amazon.com

http://www.amazon.com/Pippos-War-Marion-Kenyon-Jones/dp/1511749318/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432045767&sr=8-1&keywords=pippo%27s+war

 

Amazon.uk

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pippos-War-Marion-Kenyon-Jones/dp/1511749318/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1432046224&sr=1-1&keywords=pippo%27s+war

 

Guest Post by Helen Carey

Author Picture

Today I would like to introduce all of you to the lovely Helen Carey who talks about why her novels are set in the Second World War.

 

Why do you set your novels in the Second World War?

I have always been interested in the Second World War. My uncle died in it as a glider pilot in the Sicily landings and my father had often told me about his experiences including how he kept chickens at his army camp and sold the eggs to his fellow officers! I had also met a wonderful neighbour who had lived in the same house in London right through the war. I happened to mention this to my agent and soon afterwards I was commissioned to write three wartime books, which became the LAVENDER ROAD series.

It all happened really quickly and at first it seemed a daunting task, but after months of research I began to realise that the Second World War is an amazing period to write about. So much happened during those six traumatic years, especially in London. As well as the bombing and the fear of invasion, there was also a kind of breaking-down both of class, and of traditional male/female roles. People, who previously would never have met, were thrown together, often in unusual circumstances. The privations of war and the constant anxiety for friends and family put extra pressure on everyone, and people coped in different ways.

I quickly realised that all of this makes a fantastic background for a novel. I have always been interested in the way people often show unexpected strength in difficult circumstances. The war offered me so many avenues to explore, whether it be a wannabe actress fighting for the chance to get into ENSA, or a girl determined to reopen her parents pub after it was bombed, or a society debutante deciding to put her languages to good use by volunteering to join the SOE.

My research gave me a plethora of stories, some poignant, some tragic, some funny, and led me to meet so many wonderful people who had lived through those difficult and challenging years.

Sadly many of those people have now passed on. And it was their memories that I found the most interesting element of my research when I first started writing the Lavender Road books. Yes, historical records are great, but nothing compares with someone telling you at first hand what it was like to be caught in an underground station when a bomb severed the water main, or to crawl through the cellars of a collapsed building searching for a trapped child, or to take a tiny riverboat over to rescue stranded soldiers at Dunkirk, or to be parachuted into occupied France. And it’s not just the big events, it’s the small memories too, Americans soldiers sticking their chewing gum on the door of a hospital ward while they visited injured colleagues, a precious pound of sugar carried in a tin helmet, the terror of a war office telegram, the delight in a fresh egg.

Last year I interviewed a ninety year old doctor who, as a medical student in Oxford in 1941, had been shown the laboratory where a little team of scientists developed the first ever usable penicillin. He told me they were having to use bedpans to grow the cultures in, they simply didn’t have anything else available.

Later on in our chat, he casually let slip that when he was crossing the Atlantic in 1942, the ship he was on was torpedoed at night, and he spent several hours tossing about in the dark on a makeshift raft in his dressing gown and slippers, before eventually being rescued.

That is one of the odd things about the war, people who lived through it often look back as though it was all quite ordinary. But it wasn’t, it was extraordinary and it forced people to show extraordinary amounts of courage and resilience. That’s what makes it such a fascinating period to write about.

 

About Helen Carey

Novelist Helen Carey is best know for her World War Two novels Lavender Road, Some Sunny Day and On a Wing and a Prayer, which has recently been voted the winner of the e-Festival of Words Historical Fiction Award.

Helen’s two contemporary novels, Slick Deals and The Art of Loving, are also available as e-books.

As well as writing Helen likes to paint and works from a small studio in a converted goat shed on the small Pembrokeshire coastal farm where she lives, and which she and her husband run as a wildlife haven. She also teaches creative writing at Trinity Saint David and Aberystwyth Universities.

Helen has recently signed a fabulous deal with Headline Books. Her new novel, London Calling, the fourth in the Lavender Road series, will be published at the beginning of 2016.

 

Links

Helen’s website: http://www.helencareybooks.co.uk

Helen’s blog: http://helencareybooks.wordpress.com

Or join her on Twitter: @helencareybooks

Or Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/helencareybooks

Find Lavender Road on Amazon: http://viewBook.at/B0066DLQGM

Interview with Gillian Mawson

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Gillian Mawson was born in Stockport in Cheshire and now lives in Derbyshire.  She is married and has two cats.  Gillian’s new book is out today and she kindly took the time to answer some questions.

 

Your new book sounds absolutely fascinating.  Can you tell me a bit about it please?

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The book is ‘Evacuees: Children’s Lives on the World War Two Home Front’. It is published by History Press on Tuesday 30th September in hardback format.

I have a passionate interest in social history and during 2013 I collected personal stories from 100 people who spent the war years as evacuees in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. My new book, ‘Evacuees: Children’s Lives on the World War Two Home Front’ contains memorable extracts from these stories. They are accompanied by family photographs, many of which have been rescued from old suitcases and attics. The book also includes the memories of adults who travelled with the evacuated school children.

Prior to this, I spent four years interviewing evacuees for my first book, ‘Guernsey Evacuees: The Forgotten Evacuees of the Second World War.’  17,000 people fled Guernsey to England in June 1940, just weeks before the occupation of their island by Germany. Sadly, many of the people I interviewed have since died. I feel it is vital that the memories of Second World War evacuees are recorded now before they are lost for ever.

My new book contains stories from those who were evacuated within Britain as part of ‘Operation Pied Piper’. Others come from those who sought sanctuary in Britain from France, Belgium, the Ukraine and Spain or from persecution in Germany. I also include memories from evacuees who fled from British territories such as Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney and Gibraltar.

 

How long did it take you to write?

I began to collect the stories and family photographs in January 2013 and had to edit some of the stories. Some evacuees sent me a few paragraphs whilst others sent me 20 pages of memories. Because 100 stories are in the book, I had to edit the stories and select a memorable extract from each one. This was difficult as you can imagine. In addition some evacuees did not have access to a camera during the war, so I contacted local history societies and local newspapers. They kindly provided photographs to accompany these stories which delighted the evacuees.

 

How do you go about doing your research?

I often place letters in regional newspapers and on websites, asking for evacuees to come forward and share their stories. I also make great use of my own evacuation websites, as well as Facebook and Twitter. Even if an evacuee is not online or using social media, one of their children or grandchildren is.

 

Do you find the evacuees stories emotional at times?

I find them very emotional indeed. I interviewed 200 evacuees for my ‘Guernsey Evacuees’ book between 2008 and 2012, and the book was published in November 2012. I pick it up now and then and read a chapter and am still very moved indeed. The stories I have gathered for my new book have the same effect on me. Sometimes whilst interviewing evacuees they are moved to tears by their memories and I am too. When I read the final proof of my new book a month ago, I wept quite a few times.

I also run a community group for Guernsey evacuees who live in the Manchester area – they did not return home after the war. We organise events in order to share their stories with schools and museums. The evacuees’ memories still have the power to move me to tears especially when I hear them sharing them with members of the public.

 

How long have you been a social historian for?

I have loved history since I was a child and always reading about the lives of ordinary people who lived through extraordinary times. I began to study for my history degrees at the University of Manchester when I was 40 years old whilst I was working full time in an office.  In 2004 I began to write various history articles for magazines and newspapers, and in 2008 I began to interview Guernsey evacuees, both in the UK and in Guernsey. I wanted to find out about their wartime experiences on the UK mainland. It taught me a great deal about evacuation and also about the British Home Front during the Second World War.

 

Is this something you always wanted to do?

I enjoyed writing stories when I was a teenager, so I was very happy when I was offered a contract to write my first history book in 2012. Since writing that book, many of the evacuees have died. I feel it is vital that I interview as many evacuees as I can, while they are still with us, to record and preserve their memories for future generations.

 

Have you got anymore books planned?

I have 5 more book proposals in mind but I don’t want to give too much away at this stage. Four of them relate to the subject of the Second World War. – not just evacuation. The fifth is on a completely different historical subject – however, it does include interviews with people!

 

Describe a day in your life.

I have a part time office job, but on the remaining days I work on various matters including organising events for my evacuee community group, trying to obtain funding for the group and interviewing more evacuees. I send emails or letters to many of the evacuees I have interviewed as we have become good friends. I write down my ideas for future books and write articles for magazines and newspapers.

I have started to share my Guernsey evacuation archive online as much as possible so am in constant contact with museums and websites to ensure that this information is shared digitally. I receive emails from evacuees who wish to be reunited with wartime friends and I try to help them as much as I can. I have reunited a number of evacuees and this is very moving and makes me very happy indeed.

I am frequently contacted by people whose parents or grandparents (now deceased) were evacuees. They want to find out more about their relatives’ experiences during the war. I help as much as I can. Authors and television documentary companies contact me to obtain accurate historical information for their wartime novels and programmes. I also give talks to schools, history groups and museums about wartime evacuation and speak on the radio about my research. There is not much time for relaxation but I am very happy in what I do.

 

Links

You can find out more about Gillian’s new book on her blog:-

http://evacueesofworldwartwo.wordpress.com/

 

Gillian’s books can be purchased on Amazon:-

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gillian-Mawson/e/B008MWQ0IE/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

 

Gillian’s blog on the Guernsey evacuation can be found here:-

http://guernseyevacuees.wordpress.com/evacuation/

 

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