Anne Bonny #BlogTour Q&A with #Author of, Tell Me Where You Are @moira_forsyth @sandstonepress #NewRelease #Fiction #FamilyLife #TellMe

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Tell Me Where You Are by Moira Forsyth

Synopsis ~

Frances is doing fine; she has her life sorted. Then comes the phone call from Alec, the husband who left her for her younger sister Susan, thirteen years ago. Susan has disappeared, and Alec wants her daughter Kate to come and stay with Frances, out of harm’s way. Meanwhile, Frances’s youngest sister, Gillian, finds that two months after ending her relationship with a married man, she is pregnant. While all this is going on another crisis is looming. It’s been a family full of secrets. Frances and Gillian haven’t even managed to tell their parents Susan is missing. After all, she’s left unacknowledged thirteen years of birthday and Christmas presents for Kate, the granddaughter they never saw. She was the one who made sure she could never be forgiven, and now there’s another secret. It’s not always the things you fear most, which matter in the end.

Q&A ~

Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?

A) This novel started with a dream about the turkey we were to have for Christmas dinner. The bizarre dream Frances has at the beginning of the novel is a more detailed version of one I woke from myself, slightly shaken and glad I no longer ate meat, though I was cooking it for everyone else! The dream was too good to waste – which is what I often think when something happens that quite quickly turns itself into fiction in my imagination.

The novel is about three sisters and what happens when the middle one, who has always been trouble, disappears, leaving Frances, her older sister, with her teenage daughter Kate. Kate is in trouble, but no one realises that until it’s too late… The novel is set mainly in the Highlands, where Frances now lives, with significant scenes in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Newcastle. I can’t get on with a new novel until I’ve decided where the characters live. I know authors who can write vividly about places they’ve never been, but I’d find that difficult. For me, the sense of place is bound up closely with the people, and I want to be sure I can make that convincing.

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?

A) This novel has had a longer journey than most. When Waiting for Lindsay, my first novel, was accepted, Sceptre gave me a two-book deal, which I fulfilled with my second, David’s Sisters. After that, my agent turned down my next novel, which I suspect he had discussed with Sceptre. My sales weren’t high enough for them to offer on that one. I wrote another, but by then the agent had thrown in the towel. That novel, an earlier version of Tell Me Where You Are, went to the back of the drawer with my other unpublished work. (A much larger drawer than the published one!)

My life was then taken up with developing Sandstone Press, of which I’m a founding director. For several years Sandstone published only non-fiction, then in 2010 it was decided we’d try fiction. Tell Me Where You Are was one of the early novels published, because Robert thought it merited that. He carried out a stern edit on it – and when I’d stopped sulking I made all the changes he had suggested – he was right. However, though we were very good editors at Sandstone, we were still learning to be publishers, and the novel pretty well sank without trace. We do better for our authors now!

It’s worth new authors noting that larger publishers often drop authors in this way. I know a number of superb writers who have been ‘let go’ by corporate publishers.
Because of the success of my two subsequent novels, The Treacle Well and A Message from the Other Side, Robert decided my previous novels should all be reissued, starting with Tell Me Where You Are. So here it is, with a beautiful new cover.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) Being an editor, and to some extent, being a writer, wrecks your private reading. For bedtime I have crime thrillers on my kindle, for holidays and other times I love literary biographies (I’m reading the first biography of Scott Fitzgerald just now, by Andrew Turnbull, who knew him well), and also re-reading authors I’ve always loved and return to every few years, such as Elizabeth Taylor, Elizabeth Bowen, EM Forster, Alice Munro and George Eliot – Middlemarch is still, for me, the quintessential novel, the best.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) As a child I read everything I could get my hands on. Not allowed to ‘read at the table’ I read everywhere else, though at mealtimes I was restricted to the back of the Shreddies packet and the HP sauce bottle (some of which, in French, I can still quote Cette sauce de haute qualité est un melange d’épices….). I read Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass over and over, as a little girl, and later devoured all of Enid Blyton’s school stories. My parents often gave me their library tickets to supplement my own, I read so fast and so voraciously. The first time I really understood what writing can do, to draw you into another world, was when I happened on Philippa Pearce’s Tom’s Midnight Garden, which I still think one of the finest children’s novels ever written. As a teenager I read all Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances, but also the Brontes, Thackery, George Eliot and other classics. As a student I read John Fowles’s The Magus with the same absorption and utter belief in its world. That one hasn’t stood the test of time quite as much!

Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

A) It’s a magical moment when you open the parcel and see your new novel for the first time. When my first, Waiting for Lindsay, was published by Sceptre in 1999, I sat in my little upstairs living-room, in the first house I’d ever had of my own, holding it and unable to believe that at last, this had really happened. I’d had a bad few years, with my marriage breaking up and having to find a new job and manage on my own, but that was a moment of pure happiness.

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?

A) My partner in life and at work, Robert Davidson, has supported me all the way through. He’s my editor and critic, and takes a huge pride in my achievements. My children have also been wonderful. Sadly my mother had become ill by the time my first novel was published, and was unable to enjoy it as she would have done in earlier years. My father though, who died in 2012, was an indefatigable supporter and would get my books off the library shelves and hand them to other readers, telling them, ‘My daughter wrote this – it’s very good’. He also rearranged books in bookshops, facing mine out so that they were more easily seen. After his death, I discovered he had kept a full and detailed folder with cuttings of my reviews and every bit of publicity I’d ever had.

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Moira Forsyth
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour Q&A with @OConnellauthor #Author of The Last Night Out #Psychological #Thriller #NewRelease @blackthornbks

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The Last Night Out by Catherine O’Connell
Review To Follow

Synopsis ~

Six friends. Three secrets. One murder.

Maggie is set to marry the man of her dreams. Desperate for one wild last night out on the town before her big day, she gathers her closest girlfriends to hit the bars and party until dawn.

Only things go wrong – horribly wrong.

When Angie’s body is found in the park the following morning, their night to remember quickly becomes a nightmare they all wish they could forget. Under police scrutiny, how far will Maggie and her friends go to keep their secrets? Far enough to protect a killer?

Q&A ~

Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?

A) I’m a writer and I’ve been a writer since I was a kid. I’ve always had an overactive imagination, and would take that imagination to the page while I was in grammar school, writing short stories that the teacher would read to the class. I continued writing throughout my youth, writing sketches and more short stories, keeping journals that to this day can take me back to the inner workings of a teenager.

Having the goal of being a writer, I majored in Journalism at the University of Colorado. But by the time I graduated, I felt like journalistic writing was far too dry and restrictive for my goals. I really wanted to recognize my dream of being a novelist and the creativity of fiction versus reality. So I embarked on all kinds of adventures thinking that the more experiences I collected the more fodder I’d have for novels. I backpacked Europe and then lived for a couple of years as a ski bum in Aspen, working as a hotel maid and receptionist. Then I returned to my hometown of Chicago and worked as a waitress and a bar manager on Rush Street, floor runner at the Chicago Board of Trade, and a sales rep for a fine wine company. All through that time period I had countless ideas for books and started dozens of novels that never got much farther than ten or twenty pages.

It wasn’t until I the 90s that I finally committed myself to the work required to take it a step further. Doing what all authors need to do, I put my bottom down on a chair and started writing. I finished one novel, sent it out to an agent, but it never sold. I finished writing another book shortly thereafter and that one did sell, becoming Skins (Donald I Fine) in 1993. After that, I published a pair of high society mysteries, Well Bred and Dead and Well Read and Dead, inspired by questionable circumstances and multiple birth certificates surrounding the death of a friend.

My current book, The Last Night Out draws upon my life experiences as well. I worked as a bartender in Rush Street Chicago in the late 1980s. The scene was pretty wild back then and just when I thought I’d seen everything, someone would take things a step further. Then, in the late 90s, my husband and I started a nightclub tour business called The Party Bus. As things turned out, our primary customers were young women having bachelorette parties. If I thought I saw some crazy things as a bartender, well, those bachelorettes took it up a notch.

Coincidentally, the first novel I’d written and never gotten published was about a women getting drunk at her bachelorette party and one of her friends ending up dead. Inspired by the bachelorettes on The Party Bus, I decided to pull out that manuscript and rework it and, voila, The Last Night Out was born.

I want to add that getting published isn’t a direct line to literary success. I have more than a few dusty unpublished manuscripts occupying a safe place in the closet under my stairs. But if you’re a writer, you just keep on writing. It’s kind of like being an alcoholic—either you’re practicing or your not.

The Last Night Out is the story of six high school friends who come together in Chicago’s northern suburbs to celebrate Maggie Trueheart’s upcoming wedding. The party moves downtown to Rush Street where the girls drink into the wee hours of the night. The next morning Maggie awakes to find a stranger in her bed. If that’s not bad enough, a phone call brings the horrifying news that her friend Angie, one of the party-goers, has been murdered.

Afraid her fiancé might learn about her infidelity, Maggie lies to the detectives assigned to Angie’s case, trapping herself into a series of lies that become more and more convoluted as the search for Angie’s killer continues. And while Maggie is caught in her own fabric of lies, little does she know the rest of the girls have lies of their own, all of the lies in some way connected to Angie’s murder. Unbeknownst to them, one of the lies has put another one of them in the killer’s sights.

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea, to writing and finally to publication?

A) It’s my belief that the writing process is different for every writer. There’s no template for creating a book. Some writers make extensive outlines, some just start blind, some know where they’re going, some have no idea. I’m telling you this because I think that readers often think that there is something orderly in creating a book, and I’m the first person to tell you, there is not. The only thing all writers have in common is that they have to sit down and put that story on the page by somehow pulling it out of their head and putting it on paper. Which, I might add, can often be quite painful.

When I start writing a new book, I’m pretty much set on the beginning and the end. What’s left is to fill in everything in between and hope it matches up. I do write a rough synopsis as a sort of map, but I usually veer from that synopsis fairly quickly as my brain leads me in a different directions once I get into the story.

The bottom line for me is to just start writing. Rule #1 for me. Right after coffee in the morning. Otherwise I might get sidetracked into doing something important like cleaning the bathroom. The rough draft is the hardest. It’s kind of like pulling your brain out your ear with a tweezers. I try for five pages, around 1000 words, a day, but sometimes only come up with one. When I get really stuck I grab a yellow pad and paper and sit in a corner or go outside. The goal is to push the story forward. And though I have a pretty good idea who my characters are, guess what? They change along the way. But rather than go back and make everything consistent, I plod towards the end of the book. The idea is to get the story down. I know I can always go back and fix things later. The old writer’s axiom is, you can fix a blank page, but you can’t fix an empty one.

Once the story is finished, for me the heavy lifting is over. It’s like going through the pain of building a house, and now it’s time to decorate. Early in my writing career, I discovered if I kept going back to make the first ten pages perfect, I’d never get to the other 290. Rewrite’s the time to do that, to fix uneven plot points, to embellish descriptions, to sharpen dialogue. My first rewrite is pretty substantial, fixing up sloppy language and getting times and places match up. And my character’s appearances! You can’t believe how many time I’ve changed a character’s appearance or background or even their name in the rough draft and have to make it all jibe. Then there’s a second rewrite and then a third, each time with less needing polish. It’s during the fourth rewrite when I start to feel it’s all matching up and it’s time to say ‘enough’ before I ruin anything!

My agent is the first person to read my manuscript. I’ve already run the story idea past her, but after that I don’t send her anything until I’m basically finished. That’s because my first draft is such a mess no one would ever believe it could be a book. Once I send my agent the completed and polished manuscript, she gives it a careful read, does some editing, and points out things that might need to be clarified. I’m proud to say there usually isn’t much that needs changing at that point, and when she OKs it I breathe a sigh of relief.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) I love Barbara Kingsolver, The Lacuna being one of my favourite books. Geraldine Brooks is another favourite, both March and The Year of Wonders high up on my list. I’ve been reading a lot of fiction about World War I and II and Kate Atchinson’s Life After Life and A God in Ruins were amazing. Ian Mc Kewen’s Atonement blew me away, and if you want to get a good understanding of the horror of World War I, Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks is required reading.

I love Nelson DeMille’s edgy tough guy characters, The Gold Coast another one of my all time favorites.
Wallace Stegner’s Angle of Repose.

I tend not to read in my genre when I’m working on a book because it influences my writing, but when I’m not writing I love falling into mysteries by P.D. James, Dick Francis, Dennis Lehane, Thomas Cook, and Donna Leon. One of my favourites early on was Raymond Chandler for his great plots and sharp dialogue.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

Q) I guess I have to start with the Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew, books for young American readers. They inspired in me this amazing desire to read which then morphed into me wanting to tell stories of my own. As I grew older and my thirst for reading grew, I branched out into historical fiction. My favourite books were Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, Hawaii by James Michener, Exodus by Leon Uris and the Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I used to feel that if a book wasn’t at least 800 pages, it wasn’t worth picking up.

Q) What are you currently reading?

A) Just finished Eleanor Oliphant is Perfectly Fine by Gail Honeyman and loved it. Next up is Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. I’ve heard so many good things about it I have to read it.

Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

A) Seeing my book in print. There’s a sense of validation in having your work published that can not be described.

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?

A) My husband has always been a source of invaluable support and encouragement. Every time I’ve felt like quitting, he says, “You got this far. Why quit now?”
And my friends. They have always told me I could make it. Especially my friend, Luky, who kept me going by saying, “If you throw enough of you know what against the wall, some of it’s going to stick.” It’s crazy stuff like that that keeps you going.

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Catherine O’Connell
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Anne Bonny Q&A with #Author of The Savage Shore @david_hewson #NicCosta #Series #CrimeFiction #ItalianMafia #Italy @blackthornbks #TheSavageShore @midaspr

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The Savage Shore by David Hewson
Review To Follow

Synopsis ~

The ‘Ndrangheta is a ruthless mafia organisation, one of the richest and most powerful organised crime groups in the world. Completely impenetrable to outsiders, merciless when crossed, they run the savage Calabrian coast of Italy, their influence everywhere. So why has the head of this feared mob, Lo Spettro, offered to turn state witness?

Detective Nic Costa is sent deep into the mountains to infiltrate this mafia family, with Lo Spettro’s help. With a new identity, Nic becomes one of their own. But one slip up would mean the end not just for the investigation, but for Nic, and his whole team.

Q&A ~

Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?

A) I’ve been an author for more than twenty five years now, with thirty books or so (you stop counting after a while) to my name. The Savage Shore is a new instalment in a story that started nearly twenty years ago with A Season for the Dead which introduced a young detective called Nic Costa, working with a state police team in the historic centre of Rome. Over the years Nic’s spent most of his time on stories based in Rome, with occasional diversions to Venice and beyond.

When I decided to bring the old crew back, though, I decided to throw a spanner in the works. Usually they’re kings of a castle they know and control very well: Rome. But here they’re strangers in a strange land, sent to Calabria in the south of Italy where they’re meant to organise the defection of a gang lord into police custody so he can turn state witness.

The problem is no one knows who the gang lord is, how they can find him, how they can extricate him and his family safely out of a gang that would surely murder them all if they knew what was going on. To make contact Nic has to go undercover and pretend he’s part of the crime clan, and the rest of the team have to wait under false identities on the coast.

Pretty soon it appears nothing, in the fabled land of Calabria, is really what it seems.

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea, to writing and finally to publication?

A) I tend to be very logical about these things and decide some key issued to begin with. The first here was location: I knew it wasn’t going to be in Rome, and I was very interested in Calabria as a backdrop. It’s got an amazing culture and history of its own – not just Italian but ancient Greece as well. And it’s the home of a crime gang which is huge and very powerful, the ’Ndrangheta.

After the location came the style of the narrative. As I said I wanted Nic and co to be strangers in a strange land. So I hit upon the idea of making them become almost criminals themselves, having to hide their true identities, which isn’t easy given they’re decent people who don’t like to keep things secret.

Another element of the book is that each section of the story is preceded by a brief extract from a fictional tourist guide to the area. This gives the readers some context to the story, but also, as the narrative proceeds, we begin to realise that this device is also part of the main story too.

Then I needed an opening which came when I was driving round Reggio, the capital of Calabria. I invented a bar for crooks, an illegal immigrant forced to work behind it, and a monkey with a taste for drink. Then in walk some people with guns…

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) That’s always a tough one to answer. I’m reluctant to name living rime authors because you always leave out someone you should have mentioned and the likelihood is they’re going to notice. So… current authors of non-fiction, Mary Beard for her great work on Rome, the history books of Tom Holland. Dead authors: Robert Graves, Mario Puzo, Mary Renault.

I, Claudius is one of my favourite books, something I reread from time to time for the beautiful simplicity of its writing and structure, and the timeless nature of the story it tells: a decent man becomes the monster he loathes.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) Anything I could lay my hands on in my local library: Ray Bradbury, lots and lots of science fiction by people whose names escape me now, Conan Doyle, Saki, HP Lovecraft…

Q) What are you currently reading?

A) The Garden of the Finzi-Continis by Giorgio Bassani, a story about the Jewish community in Ferrara just before the start of the Second World War. A very unusual book that’s both an emotional story of failed loved but also darkened by the coming of fascism to people who’ve no idea the world is changing.

Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

A) My favourite moment is always the one when you know a book is finished – edited, revised, done.

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?

A) You always rely on the advice and support of agent and your editors. Without them we’d never be able to achieve a thing. Writers are lone wolves but we need to connect with the flock too. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve worked with some of the best over the years.

DH
David Hewson
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Anne Bonny Q&A with #Author of I Spy Bletchley Park George Stratford #ww2Fiction #HistoricalFiction #Indie

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I Spy Bletchley Park by George Stratford

Synopsis ~

BLETCHLEY PARK IN PERIL : Deeply embittered by the government’s seizure of her financially ruined father’s Buckinghamshire estate, Lady Margaret Pugh swears revenge on all those in Westminster. With World War II looming, Hermann Goering then makes her an irresistible offer if she will agree to spy for him. Before long, the many curious comings and goings at nearby Bletchley Park capture Margaret’s attention. And as she starts putting all of the pieces together, so Britain’s most vital war secret becomes increasingly in peril of a devastating bombing raid. In response to this suspected threat, a young working-class WAAF is thrust untrained into the world of counter-espionage. Thanks to a prodigious musical talent, Betty Hall is uniquely placed to infiltrate Margaret’s private life. But matters suddenly escalate, and the fate of Bletchley Park soon hangs entirely on Betty becoming ever more deeply and dangerously involved. With countless lives at stake, two most determined women find themselves fighting a very private war.

Q&A:

Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?

A) Some time ago I wrote a fictional tribute (BURIED PASTS) to my Canadian father who was a pilot with RAF Bomber Command. He was killed whilst on his 28th mission when I was just six weeks old. That proved to be very cathartic, so for my new novel I decided that I should pay the same kind of literary tribute to my mother, who served as a WAAF at Bletchley Park for two years during WWII. I SPY BLETCHLEY PARK is the result.
A great deal has been written and filmed about BP, but with a theme almost always centring on the codebreakers themselves. Given the priceless nature of their work, this is perfectly understandable. At the same time, there were huge numbers of less featured people (mostly female) providing priceless support to the ‘stars of the show’, especially the WAAFs and WRENs stationed there. Surely, I reasoned, it was time for a compelling story to be written featuring one of these in a heroic role.
Step forward Mum, or in this case, my fictional WAAF Betty Hall.

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?

A) With my main protagonist already in place, the next thing I needed was of course someone to provide the opposition and conflict. In this case, a spy threatening to expose the secret of Bletchley Park to the enemy. That gave birth to Lady Margaret Pugh.
I’m very much a ‘pantster’ when it comes to writing novels, and in the process of creating Margaret, I soon found her taking over the vast majority of the opening chapters. “Hey, move aside. This is Betty’s novel,” I was tempted to shout on several occasions, but I allowed her to have her head anyway. And I’m so glad I did. There’s something uniquely fascinating about putting together a well fleshed out baddie. Especially when they are many long streets away from being all bad. In fact, as the story building process accelerated from a canter into a full-on gallop to the finishing post, I found that I had a far blacker villain in Richard Forest/Forst for readers to boo and hiss at.

As for research, following a visit to the current Bletchley Park site, I was fortunate enough to encounter John Bladen, one of the dedicated volunteers regularly working there. Via telephone conversations and emails, he then continued to supply me with a host of invaluable information and advice on numerous matters of detail. Every question I threw at him was answered in full, and nothing was ever too much trouble. I owe him an enormous debt of gratitude.

During the writing, I sent files of two or three chapters at a time to people I know to gauge their reaction. Their feedback proved highly useful, especially remarks concerning female psyche. Ruth Maxwell Greenwood was especially helpful in this area. With the novel finally completed, I then sent PDFs of the full story to people who I knew for certain would be brutally truthful in their opinion. No polishing of egos from these guys. Good reviews from those who just want to be kind, although well intentioned, would have been no help at all at this stage.

With a big thumbs-up from 95% of the selected ‘brutal ones’, I then jumped aboard the same old agent submission trail yet again. But this time bursting with confidence. This novel, I felt certain, had everything that these self-appointed gatekeepers to publishing’s Chosen Land could wish for. Indeed, one very major agency stated quite openly that I SPY BLETCHLEY PARK indeed ‘stood out’ from the many they receive. I take it they meant this in a favourable way. That said, no request for further reading was made. The same could be said for the dozen or so others I approached as well.

In a slightly ironic twist, my mother used to type all of the manuscripts for prolific best-selling author John Creasy way back in the 1950s and 60s. Mr Creasy collected an acknowledged world record of 743 rejection slips before going on to publish nearly 600 books under 25 pseudonyms and achieve worldwide sales in excess of 80 million. Oh yes, and he also founded the renowned British Crime Writers Association. That’s true inspiration! That’s why, even at 75 years old and after literally decades of agent rejections, it’s still my mission in life to keep battering away in an attempt to break down those traditional publishing walls. Meanwhile, my current books can continue doing the talking for me as KDP releases. Whatever else you may think of Amazon and their self-published titles, at least they have provided readers with the opportunity to judge each work put out there for themselves and comment publicly on it.

One thing is for certain. Seeing those five-star reviews against your novel and knowing that those readers have thoroughly enjoyed it is by far the most rewarding feeling of all. Even if the lit agents don’t agree with them.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) There are many authors I’ve enjoyed spending some time with, but Ken Follett and Stephen King are the two that I currently look forward to sitting down with most of all. Thank goodness they are both prolific.

Ken Follet’s historical novels, be they set during WWII or way back in the Middle Ages, are always a great read. And so well researched as well. The Kingsbridge series starting with PILLARS OF THE EARTH is a fine example of the latter, while THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE is WWII fiction at its very best. In a more modern era, THE HAMMER OF EDEN is one of my favourites. If my own writing style has subconsciously been influenced by anyone, it is most probably Mr Follett.

As for Stephen King, my opinion that he was largely a writer of supernatural and horror stories was absolutely blown away when I first read his 2012 work, MR MERCEDES. Although still written in his own easily identifiable style, this is pure crime and detective fiction. So too is the second book in the trilogy featuring retired detective Bill Hodges, FINDERS KEEPERS. Only in the concluding novel, END OF WATCH, does the theme stray back slightly into Mr King’s previously established ground. And even then, it seems to fit in seamlessly.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) After moving on from the usual comics of the time such as the Eagle and the Hotspur, I soon became an enormous fan of the JUST WILLIAM books. For me, Richmal Crompton captured perfectly the essence of a spirited 11 year-old boy of the time. No real electronic gadgets for William or the other kids of that era; entertainment was nearly all in the imagination. Master Brown could quite easily manufacture an invisibility cloak out of an old sheet, or perhaps a futuristic ray gun that turned people into blancmange from a stick and a couple of empty tin cans.

I was at first absolutely astonished when I discovered that the author was in fact a woman. How could Miss Crompton possibly have such a deep understanding of what made William tick? I wondered. How was she able to make him so utterly believable? Only later did I fully realise that, apart from a huge dollop of writing talent, the answer almost certainly lay in an ever-alert eye and ear whenever in the company of young ones. Or to give it another name, plain old-fashioned research.

Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

A) My first published novel was a paperback titled IN THE LONG RUN. It was released by Citron Press in 2000, when I was working as a copywriter at Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising in Charlotte Street, London.

The International Chairman of Saatchi at that time, Alan Bishop, so enjoyed the novel that he arranged a launch party for me at the company’s in-house pub, the Pregnant Man. Former world record holder for the mile and current BBC athletics presenter, Steve Cram, was sent an advance copy and he too was enthusiastic. So much so, he offered to write a foreword for the book, and agreed to be guest of honour at the official launch.
It was a truly magical evening, packed to the rafters and with many old friends from my days back in Bournemouth coming up to attend. The novel very quickly went on to sell like those often-cited hot cakes. It was sitting solidly at number one in Citron’s best-selling list, and I was able to walk in and see it sitting on the shelves of Europe’s largest book store, Waterstones in Piccadilly. I was indeed living in my own little dream world for a short time.

The news that Citron Press had gone into liquidation burst my bubble big-time. Worse still, after the main creditors had been paid, there would be no royalties for any of the company’s authors.

Yup! What goes up certainly does come crashing back down again. But nobody can take away from me that magical evening in the Pregnant Man. It will live with me for the rest of my life. I can never thank Alan Bishop enough for that. You are a true gentleman, sir.

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?

A) No one individual had been with me throughout. A good number of years ago when I was still trying to get IN THE LONG RUN published, I did meet up with Frederick E Smith (author of the 633 SQUADRON novels) two or three times at his house. He was extremely kind and helpful, especially as I had just knocked on his door out of the blue like a cold calling salesman on the first visit. He even provided me with tea and biscuits.
Another fine gentleman, to be sure.

Other than that, I think I should refer you back to the second question here. Although we never actually met, John Creasy and his sheer determination to fulfil his dream of becoming a best-selling author is still a constant source of encouragement. Mum spoke of him quite often, and I feel like I almost knew him well. In a final strange twist, Mr Creasy died on June the 9th – the same date as my birthday.

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George Stratford
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Anne Bonny Q&A #Extract with #Author of Wartime Sweethearts @LolaJaye #ww2Fiction #Saga #HistoricalFiction #Romance @EburyPublishing @PenguinUKBooks

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Wartime Sweethearts by Lola Jaye

Synopsis ~

An English Girl. An American Soldier. A twin secret…

When Rose meets American GI William there is no denying the attraction between them…And even though she knows her family would not approve of her relationship with a black soldier, they can’t help but fall in love.

However Rose has a secret of her own and when war separates the sweethearts before she can confide in William, it is Rose who will have to deal with the consequences…

From the author of Orphan Sisters comes a moving and unique saga which gives a voice to the untold tales of our past.

Q&A ~

Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?

A) Hello there! I’ve been a published author for ten years now and I’m also a registered psychotherapist. I’ve written five novels and a self-help book and was born and raised in London, England. I’ve lived in Nigeria and up until recently, the United States. My books have been translated into several languages including Korean, German and Serbian. I love writing saga novels and Orphan Sisters was released in 2017 charting the fictional journey of an immigrant family and the issues faced in post war London. My current book Wartime Sweethearts is out now:

When Rose meets American GI William there is no denying the attraction between them… And even though she knows her family would not approve of her relationship with a black soldier, they can’t help but fall in love. However Rose has a secret of her own and when war separates the sweethearts before she can confide in William, it is Rose who will have to deal with the consequences…

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea, to writing and finally to publication?

A) I have an idea. Then the characters are born. If these characters start to invade my thoughts, it’s time to tell their story! I became interested in learning more about the large numbers of babies born to African American solders and British women during WWII after listening to a segment on BBC Radio 4 Women’s Hour. Brown babies was the term used and I felt I needed to tell their ‘forgotten’ story.
When I write, I not only want to entertain, but I also like to weave in the contributions made by people of colour throughout the years. For example, it isn’t widely known that during both World Wars there were a significant number of African, Caribbean and Asian soldiers who volunteered and were recruited to all branches of the British armed forces. Although the story of William and Rose focuses on the African American allies, the cover for Wartime Sweethearts at least offers us a rare glimpse…

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou was/is a phenomenal woman. There’s something quite beautiful about the prose and raw emotion which sings from each page of this book.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
I needed to be in a certain place mentally to really take on this book due to the harrowing subject matter, so it stayed on my shelf for over five years. When I finally opened the first page, I was hooked.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
Every single page of this book felt like part of a feast I wanted to devour slowly. I was there with the characters too, living and breathing the life of a Japanese geisha and not sat on my couch on a rainy afternoon!

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I read this at a time I had newly arrived in America, so this novel felt like perfect timing. It contained so many references which gave way to a number of ‘aha’ moments like, what it meant to be an immigrant living in America- themes I recognised and could relate to on a personal level.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) Like millions of others, I enjoyed the Flowers in the Attic books by Virginia Andrews and the naughtiness of Judy Blume in Forever. Pre teen me also loved books by Rosa Guy who was a phenomenon because for the very first time, I was reading about characters who looked like me. One of her books which particularly springs to mind is Edith Jackson, about a 17 year old black girl trying to make her way in life.

Q) What are you currently reading?

A) I am just about to start reading Tell me your Secret by Dorothy Koomson -who made be feel very special by sending me a proof!

Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

A) When a reader emails to tell me how much my writing has touched their lives.

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?

A) It helps to have a list of writer friends who are familiar with the neurosis, solitude and basic weirdness that come with being a writer!

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Lola Jaye
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Pre-order link via Penguin UK
Wartime Sweethearts on Goodreads

Extract ~

Chapter One

1944

She had never experienced this type of pain before. ‘Is the baby all right?’ she said in between deepened breaths and a succession of quick pants. Wasn’t the pain part supposed to be over by now? Why was she feeling as if she still needed to push something heavy out of her? When she was little, she’d accidentally walked in on Mrs Bunting giving birth next door. Rose had been mesmerised at the aftermath of bright red blood splattered across the bed sheets and a fully formed, yet purple and reddened baby wailing in its mother’s arms. The sight of something called the afterbirth, pooling out of her neighbour’s nether regions a little while later, was not what she’d expected either because no one had actually mentioned that part. Perhaps this was what was next for her too – she just couldn’t believe how much pain she’d endured so far, or that this beautifully formed, wailing infant now being tended to by her sister Flora, as Marigold, the oldest of the three, looked on, had actually come from her. In the blurred lines between pain and exhaustion, Rose was fighting pangs of envy at the time they’d already got to spend with the baby. Her first child. A little girl! She couldn’t wait to be alone with her and stare into her

perfect face. Absorb every single inch of this new person she’d got to know over the last eight months while safely cocooned in her stomach. She’d only managed a few seconds of a glimpse when Flora had placed her onto her chest right after she’d first entered this world. Their heartbeats had instantly connected and she felt an intoxication of love for this little being who had bombarded its way into her life at a time when the outside world had felt so uncertain. ‘She is a beauty!’ encouraged Marigold, standing at the end of Rose’s bent legs, an uncharacteristic smile spread all over her wide face. The earlier embarrassment at her sisters viewing parts of her she herself had never seen, had long since disappeared. She’d never felt more grateful for their presence nor more at ease. Marigold had already birthed two of her own as well as taking in a couple of evacuees at the start of the war, while Flora was just a natural at being organised; the clever one of the family. ‘Got a good pair of lungs on her too!’ said Marigold. ‘Time to give this beauty a nice clean and you can hold her,’ said Flora in that voice adults seemed to have hidden most of the time, yet regularly pulled out for babies and little children. Perhaps Rose herself would talk that way to the little one from now on as she fed her, combed her hair (when she had some) and bathed her. Rose couldn’t wait for these instances that would define her new role as a mother. At the age of thirty-one and already married for six years, she’d been waiting for this moment her entire life. This was her chance to do better as a wife and finally be able to prove to Pete, her husband, that she wasn’t a bad wife for not giving him a child or whatever other reason he would come up with. He’d often remind her he could find better among the dead cows at the knackers yard where he worked. He probably could. She wasn’t that much of a good wife. She sometimes burnt the food even though they were living on precious government rations and at times let the dust settle on the sideboards where

their wedding photo and ornaments took pride of place. Pete hated dust, said it made him cough. When one day he placed both hands around her neck until she couldn’t help but splutter in panic, he simply said, ‘Now you know what it feels like,’ before releasing her. She was a bad wife, but this, motherhood, she could do. She’d lost her mother Lillian at a very young age and she and her sisters and brother had been raised by a succession of aunties and neighbours while her father, Albert, sat in a chair smoking a pipe and stroking his moustache, lamenting the loss of the only woman he’d ever loved. Just like he still did every single day of his miserable life. Out of a line-up of three girls and the much longed for son, Donald, who finally came along and, with him, a change that would affect their lives forever, Rose could admit she’d been the favoured one. Flora the middle girl was the forever spinster with ‘too many big ideas’ and ‘just not ladylike enough’, according to their father, with Marigold the plain and ‘big’ one. At least Rose was looked at as the one ‘pretty enough’ to secure a decent husband who would earn enough money to contribute to the family pot. Rose had wanted that too. Hoping at least for a husband who could be a better father than hers and perhaps be more like her little brother Donald who at least took an interest in her life. What she’d ended up with was a man who did odd jobs when he could, refused to contribute anything to the Baker family and stayed away at least three nights a week, showing up drunk and reeking of other women. This baby was so important. Five months ago, she’d stood between Pete and the wall, his hand tightened around her wrist, his thigh jammed in the space between her legs, his spittle landing on her cheek as he reeled
off all the reasons why he should leave and never come back. Just like he usually did after a row. When, finally, she had landed him with the biggest reason of all – ‘I’m having a baby, that’s why!’ – her eyes had stamped shut as she waited for what was next.

Instead, he’d gently pulled her into his arms, punching the air instead of her face and cheering with happiness. And for the next five months as the baby grew inside her, Pete began to behave differently; rubbing her swollen feet and letting her know almost every day that he had never loved her more. She thought – had believed – he would never hit her again and especially not with his baby inside her. So now it was only his words that stung and usually when he was too drunk to care. Marigold said this was good, an improvement, yet for Rose his words sometimes felt like punches. Rose’s new fear was that Pete would be upset the baby wasn’t a boy. He may have said he didn’t mind what she produced and wasn’t fussed, but Pete said a lot of things. Having promised never to hit her again (many times but especially since she was pregnant), he’d recently succumbed with a sharp tug of her chestnut-coloured hair just after breakfast, the morning he left to work at the knackers yard four days ago. ‘Look what you made me do!’ he’d whined. Her hand had gently caressed the side of her head, she imagined would be a pinky red, as her other hand smoothed over her swollen belly. Thankfully, her baby was safe inside, moving around like normal. Seconds later, he was apologising as he pulled a pack of cigarettes and matches from his pocket. ‘Anyway, you’ve got those meddling sisters of yours, you don’t need me around. I don’t know why you’re moaning about me going away, anyway. Having a baby is a women’s thing, so it’s best I get back when it’s all done and with a bit of cash in me pocket. You’re both going to need feeding.’ He lit the match and placed it to the tip of the cigarette. ‘You’ve still got another month and I’ll be back just before or on the dot. Don’t you worry.’ He’d dragged on the cigarette as she imagined the instant joy she’d feel in stubbing it right into his cheek. The sweet little mite was crying wildly now, a reassuring sound as Rose felt an enormous need to push again.

She screamed louder than she ever thought she could. Louder than when Pete had first struck her that second hour into their wedding. Louder than when he had ‘accidentally’ twisted her wrist when they had rowed about the woman at number twenty-three. ‘Ahhhhhh!’ Marigold looked on, open-mouthed as Flora, always the most organised and sensible, placed the new baby into Marigold’s arms. ‘Please stop this pain – ahhhhhh!’ Rose’s screams were louder than when she’d been told her mother was never coming home after giving birth to Donald. What if a similar fate awaited her too? The thought had rushed through her mind many times and she was extremely angry with herself for not making it to the hospital on time for her own emergency. But as Marigold had pointed out helpfully or unhelpfully, their mother had died giving birth in a hospital anyway. ‘Marigold, hold that baby tight over there,’ said Flora with a warning tone to her voice. ‘Something’s happening here!’ Rose held her tears inside, the pain preventing such a luxury. This wasn’t meant to be happening. This was it. She too was about to go the way of their mother and never see her child again. ‘Oh my . . . No . . . This can’t be!’ shouted Flora, her hands now embedded between her sister’s legs. ‘What?’ screamed Rose, in between each desperate pant. The pain kept coming at her like a huge tank, she imagined. Steamrolling over her entire body and then backing up to do it all over again. ‘Keep pushing!’ urged Flora, her own face red with concentration. Marigold moved closer, still clutching the baby. ‘I don’t believe this!’ ‘Someone tell me what’s going on? Ahhhhh!’ The pain seared through her with an intensity she had never known. Every part of her enlarged with pain.

‘It’s another one!’ said Flora. ‘Another what?’ yelled Rose. ‘It’s twins!!’ Those final pushes were the toughest. The screams were the most intense and even though her eyes were stamped shut, Rose knew it was enough. She’d done it. She’d released a second baby into the world and she couldn’t have been more surprised . . . or happier. Her tears of joy, instant as she opened her eyes, but when she clocked the expression locked on each of her sister’s faces, her smile dropped. ‘What is it? Is my baby okay?’ She could only hear the cries of the first baby. ‘It’s a girl. Another girl.’ Gone was the joy in Flora’s voice heard only moments earlier with the arrival of the first child. Even Marigold looked miserable, but then again, Marigold was regularly unable to keep a smile for long. ‘Can . . . can I see her? Why isn’t she crying?’ ‘I’m . . . Err . . . I’m just going to sort her out here . . . Clean her up . . .’ Something in Flora’s tone didn’t sit right with Rose. Of her three siblings, she and Flora were the closest. Although Rose was only just over a year younger, Flora was the one she looked up to. She’d been the first girl in their family to finish school with good marks and the first one to get a job long before women were expected to as part of the war effort. She even spoke proper too and Rose had always wanted to be like Flora. Not a spinster . . . No, not that, but to possess her strength and fearless attitude. Yet, the expression on Flora’s face was that of fear. ‘Flora, what’s that face for? What’s wrong with my baby?’ The loud and healthy cry from baby number two was reassuring and timely. ‘Nothing is wrong. There you go, a healthy pair of lungs.’ ‘You sure about that, Flora?’ added Marigold, rocking baby number one, Iris, in her arms. Pete and Rose had already decided

to name their baby Iris if it was a girl – in keeping with the flower theme of their family. For a boy, they had decided on Donald after her brother who was currently fighting the Jerries and who they hoped would soon be home. ‘Is there something wrong with my baby? Please tell me!’ ‘Once I give her a bath, everything will be okay. Marigold, give Rose the first baby.’ Marigold appeared to be dumbstruck, her eyes fixated on the baby in Flora’s arms. ‘Marigold, give her the baby!’ ‘Iris. Her name is Iris,’ said Rose. ‘Give little Iris to her. Go on!’ Rose’s fears quickly floated away as she once again held baby Iris against her tired body. The smell of her, the uniqueness of this moment, overwhelming and eclipsing any joy she had previously felt during her thirty-one years of life. In her arms was her very own child and a combination of her and Pete. Although the marriage had been a bit rocky of late, Iris was proof that everything had happened to lead her to now. This beautiful human being wrapped safely in her arms; this moment; this love. And she had two of these little blessings. Pete would love her so much after this. Their love would be rock solid and never, ever become fractured again. The love of two babies binding them together, forever. ‘Can I see my little Lily, now?’ the name rolled off her tongue effortlessly. Lily, a shortened version of their mother’s name, seemed so very fitting. ‘Lily . . . That’s a great choice,’ said Flora uneasily. There seemed to be a private conference going on between her sisters with Lily being at the centre of it. As Rose listened to the reassuring sound of her first daughter’s breath, she also longed for the second one. She wanted to be close to her and to be reassured of her existence. As Flora spoke, the expression on her face was grave. ‘I thought when I washed her, it would come off . . .’

‘What would come off?’ ‘Her colouring.’ ‘What?’ ‘Maybe in a few days. It’s probably a birth thing . . . you know because she’s the second one?’ Flora moved closer to the bed, a white sheet covering the unexpected second baby, Lily. Rose handed Marigold (herself looking as white as the sheet) baby Iris and held out her arms for Lily. She felt an intense rush of warmth as Flora placed the baby into her arms. Were they identical? Would they have similar personalities or be totally different? Her sore and aching body managed to embrace a feeling of joy as she imagined the future, which now appeared amazing and full of sparkling possibilities. The country may have been at war, but in that moment Rose could not have asked for more as she settled Lily into her arms. She opened the sheet, excited about seeing her baby for the very first time. Instead, her breath caught in her throat. Her eyes widened, her breathing accelerated. She couldn’t speak. Not a word. If not for the presence of two babies, there would not have been a single sound in that room. Then Marigold spoke. ‘If I hadn’t seen this myself I would have said the devil himself had come into the house this morning and did this. What. The. Hell. Is. That!?’

My Dearest Love,
I can still feel the harshness of the ground beneath my bare feet as I run towards my mama, as she calls us in to eat. I miss the smell of fresh cornbread and the sound of the birds chirping me awake in the morning. I also miss the sky as blue as the sea with the sunshine above the mammoth trees draped in Spanish moss as I trace the sweat dripping down to my cheek. Yes, this land of yours, Great Britain, has the birds, but it rarely has the sunlight.

Yet, one day, when I thought it was going to be just another grey day, the sun appeared in all its splendour. It was the day we arrived in the town of Alderberry and all those people were so welcoming to us. I couldn’t be sure if I and the other seven guys were part of that welcome, but it appeared we were. To every one of the British who came to greet us, ask our names and thank us for ‘helping get rid of the Jerries’, I was just another American soldier walking the cobbled streets like they were reclaiming the land of their forefathers! I admit it. I allowed the clapping and stares to go to my head. It wasn’t something I was used to. The staring yes, but not the clapping. Not in America and not among my comrades either. It made me feel like a hero. Cornel told me to tone it down a little and put my chest back in. Maybe I should have. But for once I wasn’t about to obey any orders. ‘We ain’t like them,’ he said. ‘Well, to these folks, we are!’ Cornel was my best friend in the army. We looked the same. And while we were stationed in areas far away from home and everything I had ever known we had a type of safety in numbers, strategy in defence of some of the other men, like Riker. Riker was from Augusta, Georgia and not too far from where I grew up in Savannah. And it’s because of this that he hated me the most. The guys from the North weren’t like Riker and his boys. They treated us well enough, didn’t adhere to Jim Crow, but they sometimes called us spooks or Nigger. I didn’t mind much . . . well I did . . . of course I did, but I was powerless in the face of it all. Just like I was when put on duties that really had nothing to do with fighting the Germans. I wanted to get in there and do what I had been sent to do – not clean out the bathrooms. But it wasn’t worth a dime to say anything. Cornel was right and we were not the same in the eyes of Riker and his men or the law of our own country. So, if in Great Britain, it seemed like we were men – then I was going to enjoy that feeling for as long as I could.

Riker and the others truly believed they were movie stars. Big time operators stopping to hand out gifts to the ladies and kids. If the lady was pretty, she would get a little more than some cigarettes or candy. More like some nylons and a promise to ‘see her later’. I’d never known of a man to get a date so easily! Back home, I’d had to patiently wait six weeks for just a kiss with sweet Augustine Jewson! How Riker and the other guys behaved was not my way and, even if it were, I and the other seven guys who looked like me would not be allowed to partake anyway. Instead, we simply ‘minded our business’ as Cornel would say. Content to enjoy the way you folks pronounced words like ‘water’ and to give out extra candy bars to anyone who even smiled our way. As we stood in and among the last of the gathered crowds, my mouth dry with all the talking and laughing with the British folk, one of the seven said something about going to a bar or a ‘pub’, for lunch. It was called the Black Dog and I found this name a little unfortunate, but I was assured by one of the local men that the name referred to a real black dog that used to gather sheep in the area. As usual, Cornel was being negative, saying – ‘Let’s just all go back to base. I ain’t going in no establishment called the Black Dog!’ – five of the guys ignored him and carried on in the direction of the pub. ‘You coming?’ asked Cornel. ‘This isn’t home, we’re in England now. The folks here have been nothing but cordial, nice and welcoming.’ ‘I don’t know where you living but back at the base, ain’t nothing changed.’ He was right about that. Men like Riker were still determined to keep up what they were used to back at home regardless of where we had landed – and drinking in the same area as them was not the done thing. Some drinking establishments had already agreed to rotating passes so that we Negro soldiers were never in on the same day as white soldiers. Not everyone in this village had agreed to that and this made me happy inside. It felt

like England and its people were not going to be hostile towards us and that was great. But of course that made no difference to men like Riker. Of course, I was about to follow Cornel back to base . . . But something or someone stopped me. I looked up again and there it was. A kind of vision that I hoped was real. ‘You go on up ahead, and I’ll meet you.’ That was a lie. Cornel was looking sour but I was not about to leave. Not at that moment. Maybe not ever, because I had just laid eyes on you, for the very first time. Back home in Savannah, it wasn’t hard for me to ignore the look of a woman – a white woman – because simply put, to look back could get me in serious trouble, even killed. Yet thousands of miles away, here in a British town called Alderberry, I tried once again to pretend that my way of life back home was far behind. I had to do that in combat anyway because I just couldn’t afford to think about those I had left behind. Yet still, I, William Burrell, dared to look back at you. I dared to catch your pretty smile. A moment, which locked me into a time and space I never wanted to come out of. You were the first white woman I had ever looked at in that way before. Maybe even the first woman. Not even Augustine Jewson or Marie A. Rhodes or Viola Jackson had held my time in such a way. I knew that image of you would remain in my mind like a flower in a bed of concrete. I mean no disrespect when I say this, but you weren’t Hollywood glamour like Gene Tierney, with your dressed-down flat shoes, your hair neatly styled, but with tendrils falling messily into your eyes, that to be honest did look a little tired. Yet, I could see they still sparkled with something. And looking at you gave me a sense of peace within the chaos. A calm I didn’t know I had missed. A sense of acceptance in a world where I was risking my life for a country that failed to even see me as a man.

‘Hello there,’ you said. I adored that accent as well as your brazenness. I’d overheard Riker and the others talking a lot about British women being very forward and willing to ‘give it up to a GI’ on the first night if alcohol and ‘fags’ were involved. I knew you’d be different. I just knew. ‘Why, hello. I’m William Burrell. How are you today, ma’am?’ ‘I’m fine, thank you, Mr Burrell.’ ‘You can call me Willie.’ ‘William will be fine.’ And there it was. Instant confirmation that what you already saw in me was more than what I had been used to. Men younger than I often referred to me, a grown man, as ‘boy’ while others just called me Willie. To me, Willie only ever sounded right coming from the lips of my mama and daddy and here stood you, beautiful sweet you, calling me by my full name and this just confirmed that everything I had felt in the ninety or so seconds we’d known one another was valid. It was real. You were not part of my wishful imagination. ‘May I ask you your name?’ I asked you. A firm nudge almost knocked me off my feet. ‘You should not be doing this,’ whispered Cornel into my ear. ‘I thought you were going back to base,’ I said, momentarily out of my trance. ‘I was until I saw you trying to commit a suicide.’ ‘Just being friendly to the lady.’ ‘Then be friendly to everyone, the same. Don’t put trouble on yourself. It’s not worth it. She ain’t worth it.’ As Cornel moved away, I turned back and you were gone. Luckily, my gaze found you slowly moving away from the crowds, that smile and then your hand telling me to follow. I stopped, remembering Cornell’s words along with thirty years of my own memories locked away in my head and refusing to leave me. My heart beat fast. I was in another world. In England. They didn’t do that here, did they?

I followed anyway and then you stopped and turned around, smiling at me once again, luring me further into your world and possibly a whole lot of trouble. Soon, only a muddy ground and an abundance of trees surrounded us. Lush greenery and the absence of others. There was just you and I. What if you screamed? ‘My name is Rose.’ I walked closer to you, so slowly and giving you a chance to change your mind; tell me this had all been a mistake. I should have thought about the possibility that this could be a trap but I knew you wouldn’t do that to me. I already trusted you. I already knew you. So, with my hand stretched out, I moved closer knowing as soon as our palms touched for the very first time, you’d become everything I never knew I needed.

Wartime Sweethearts Cover