Anne Bonny #BookReview Those Who Are Loved by @VicHislop Victoria Hislop 4* #NewRelease #Historical #ww2Fiction #ww2 #Athens #Greece #GreekHistory @headlinepg

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Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop
Review Copy

Synopsis ~

The gripping new novel by Sunday Times Number One bestseller Victoria Hislop is set against the backdrop of the German occupation of Greece, the subsequent civil war and a military dictatorship, all of which left deep scars.

Athens 1941. After decades of political uncertainty, Greece is polarised between Right- and Left-wing views when the Germans invade.
Fifteen-year-old Themis comes from a family divided by these political differences. The Nazi occupation deepens the fault-lines between those she loves just as it reduces Greece to destitution. She watches friends die in the ensuing famine and is moved to commit acts of resistance.

In the civil war that follows the end of the occupation, Themis joins the Communist army, where she experiences the extremes of love and hatred and the paradoxes presented by a war in which Greek fights Greek.

Eventually imprisoned on the infamous islands of exile, Makronisos and then Trikeri, Themis encounters another prisoner whose life will entwine with her own in ways neither can foresee.
And finds she must weigh her principles against her desire to escape and live.

As she looks back on her life, Themis realises how tightly the personal and political can become entangled. While some wounds heal, others deepen.

This powerful new novel from Number One bestseller Victoria Hislop sheds light on the complexity and trauma of Greece’s past and weaves it into the epic tale of an ordinary woman compelled to live an extraordinary life.

My Review ~

Those Who Are Loved is an incredibly deep and emotive novel. It is quite lengthy at 496 pages and you do become immersed in the story of Themis Stavridus. We follow her from a young girl full of hope and optimism, to a young woman forced to make and stand by difficult choices. Eventually we return to Themis as an elderly lady reflecting to on her life and the repercussions of the war on their lives as a family.
Whilst I do see this as a ‘holiday read’ I would urge readers to prepare themselves for deep research, ww2 history and the fight between the far-left & far-right in 1940s Greece.

The novel opens in Athens 2016 as the family of four generations, gather for the birthday of Themis Stavridis. As Themis reflects on the current political climate in Greece. Of Homelessness/poverty, the rise of fascism and the anti-immigrant rhetoric. She is consumed with her own past, that she has never previously spoken of…
‘Her life story was not an heirloom, but it was all she had’

‘Once they were seated, Themis began to talk’

We are then rapidly transported to 1930’s Athens and the home of Themis’s childhood. Here we are introduced to her mother Eleftheria and her three siblings Thanasis, Panos and Margarita. Their father Pavlos is a merchant shipping worker and spends large periods away from the family home. They live in a simple and yet modest home on Antigoris Street. But for Themis and her siblings, this will also prove to be a time of great change as they end up being raised by their grandmother Kyria Koralis.
Kyria does her best to raise the children, but she is fighting a tough battle due to the economic depression hitting Greece. The children however, grow up surrounded by maternal love from her.

The novel jumps ahead 10yrs to Oct 1940. Greece is now vulnerable to the German and Italian army’s and potential invasion. The political and wartime climate is explained within the novel. It is done through the characters experiences, and therefore I did not feel like I was sat in a history lesson. Despite taking on a through amount of historical information. When it comes to far-left and far-right sympathies, the siblings are very divided. With Thanasis and Margarita able to accept the far-rights values. Whilst brother Panos sympathises with the far-left of the Soviets.
Themis is unsure to which side she feels a political alliance. That is until she meets school friend and refugee Fotini. Who has been raised in a different way of life, with a different set of politics.

‘Hitler doesn’t respect this country anymore than Mussolini does’

9th April 1941 – Greece becomes an occupied territory of the German Reich. The Nazi top brass blame the British Whilst Thanasis and Margarita are willing to accept this. It is not them who will truly pay the price for Nazi ideology. For Fotini’s mother loses her job, the family begin to starve and before long Fotini is wasting away.

‘Germany was a friend of Greece, not a foe’

Themis’s coming of age in occupied Greece, see her deal with a wide-range of emotional problems. Panos joins the resistance and before long it is Greek vs Greek, occupier vs communist. There are protests and violence. A  resulting massacre at the village of Kalavryta, showing the full horror of the Nazi regime.

The novel continues to tell the story of Themis’s family through the Nazi occupation, to the arrival of the British and eventually to the new government, bringing new hope.
It was easy to put yourself in the teenage siblings situations and walk in their shoes. Destruction of their home town, uncertainty and political divisions between the citizens.
When Themis vows to join the communists. her membership opens her eyes to the full extent of life in the far-left.

‘This is the harmony I want to restore to our country’

we continue on our journey with Themis, through her imprisonment at the most brutal island prison. We also see 1954, 1967, 1976, 1985 and ultimately back to the present day of 2016. With the long drawn out story told, Themis’s family is now fully aware of her past. When I finished the title, I suddenly felt bereft without the attachment to the novel and Themis’s story. I felt as though I had been with the family through their ups and downs. Their hardships and rare moments they had known  peace. It is funny sometimes how you can finish a near 500 page book and still want more.

This my first title read by the author and will definitely not be my last! 4*

VH
Victoria Hislop
Website
Twitter

Anne Bonny Top 5 #ww2Fiction #Historical picks from the TBR pile @VirginiaBaily @swlittlefield @CescaWrites @jingwrites Katie Quinn @ThatSadieJones @FleetReads @WmMorrowBooks @CorvusBooks @OneworldNews @vintagebooks

***Here are some books from my ww2 fiction TBR pile, that I am DYING to read. In no particular order***

the fourth shore
The Fourth Shore by Virginia Baily
Available in HB/Ebook/Audible – PB March 2020
Synopsis ~

The Fourth Shore: the sliver of fertile land along the Tripoli coast, the ‘lost’ territory Mussolini promised to reclaim for Italy. Which is how, in 1929, seventeen-year-old Liliana Cattaneo arrives there from Rome on a ship filled with eager colonists to join her brother and his new wife.

Liliana is sure she was on the brink of a great adventure, but what awaits her is not the Mediterranean idyll of cocktail parties, smart dances, dashing officers and romantic intrigues she had imagined. Instead she finds a world of persecution, violence, repression, corruption and deceptions both great and small.

A child of fascist Italy, blown about by the winds of fascism and Catholicism, Liliana becomes enmeshed in a dark liaison which has terrible consequences both for her and those she loves most.

The Fourth Shore is the engrossing and intensely poignant story of Liliana’s journey from Rome to Tripoli to a north London suburb where, as plain Lily Jones, she begins to uncover a secret she has buried so deeply that even she is far from certain what it is.

The daisy children
The Daisy Children by Sofia Grant
Available in PB/Ebook/Audible
Synopsis ~

Inspired by true events, in Sofia Grant’s powerfully moving new novel a young woman peels back the layers of her family’s history, discovering a tragedy in the past that explains so much of the present. This unforgettable story is one of hope, healing, and the discovery of truth.

Sometimes the untold stories of the past are the ones we need to hear…
When Katie Garrett gets the unexpected news that she’s received an inheritance from the grandmother she hardly knew, it couldn’t have come at a better time. She flees Boston—and her increasingly estranged husband—and travels to rural Texas.
There, she’s greeted by her distant cousin Scarlett. Friendly, flamboyant, eternally optimistic, Scarlett couldn’t be more different from sensible Katie. And as they begin the task of sorting through their grandmother’s possessions, they discover letters and photographs that uncover the hidden truths about their shared history, and the long-forgotten tragedy of the New London school explosion of 1937 that binds them.

the silent hours
The Silent Hours by Cesca Major
Available in PB/Ebook/Audible
Synopsis ~

An epic, sweeping tale set in wartime France, The Silent Hours follows three people whose lives are bound together, before war tears them apart:

Adeline, a mute who takes refuge in a convent, haunted by memories of her past;

Sebastian, a young Jewish banker whose love for the beautiful Isabelle will change the course of his life dramatically;

Tristin, a nine-year-old boy, whose family moves from Paris to settle in a village that is seemingly untouched by war.

Beautifully wrought, utterly compelling and with a shocking true story at its core, The Silent Hours is an unforgettable portrayal of love and loss.

how we disappeared
How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee
Available in HB/Ebook/Audible – PB April 2020
Synopsis ~

The heart-rending story of survival and endurance in Japanese-occupied Singapore

Singapore, 1942.
As Japanese troops sweep down Malaysia and into Singapore, a village is ransacked, leaving only three survivors, one of them a tiny child.

In a neighbouring village, seventeen-year-old Wang Di is bundled into the back of a troop carrier and shipped off to a Japanese military brothel. After sixty years of silence, what she saw and experienced there still haunts her.

And in the year 2000, twelve-year-old Kevin is sitting beside his ailing grandmother when he overhears a mumbled confession. He sets out to discover the truth, wherever it might lead, setting in motion a chain of events he could never have foreseen.

Weaving together two timelines and two very big secrets, this evocative, profoundly moving and utterly dazzling debut opens a window on a little-known period of history, and heralds the arrival of a thrilling new literary star.

the alice network
The Alice Network by Katie Quinn
Available in HB/Ebook/Audible/PB
Synopsis ~

In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.

1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the “Queen of Spies”, who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.
Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth…no matter where it leads.

**EXTRA PICK**
Not ww2 fiction, but set post-ww2 in Cyprus. I also CANNOT resist this epic cover!
small wars
Small Wars by Sadie Jones
Available in PB/Ebook
Synopsis ~

Hal Treherne is a soldier on the brink of a brilliant career. Impatient to see action, his other commitment in life is to his beloved wife, Clara, and when Hal is transferred to Cyprus she and their twin daughters join him. But the island is in the heat of the emergency; the British are defending the colony against Cypriots – schoolboys and armed guerillas alike – battling for union with Greece.

Clara shares Hal’s sense of duty and honour; she knows she must settle down, make the best of things, smile. But action changes Hal, and the atrocities he is drawn into take him not only further from Clara but himself, too; a betrayal that is only the first step down a dark path.

Anne Bonny #BookReview Stasi 77 By @djy_writer David Young 5* #Historical #Thriller #ww2Fiction #KarinMuller #Stasi #Series @ZaffreBooks

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Stasi 77 by David Young ~ Karin Muller #4
Review Copy

Synopsis ~

A secret State. A dark conspiracy. A terrible crime.

Karin Müller of the German Democratic Republic’s People’s Police is called to a factory in the east of the country. A man has been murdered – bound and trapped as a fire burned nearby, slowly suffocating him. But who is he? Why was he targeted? Could his murderer simply be someone with a grudge against the factory’s nationalisation, as Müller’s Stasi colleagues insist? Why too is her deputy Werner Tilsner behaving so strangely?

As more victims surface, it becomes clear that there is a cold-blooded killer out there taking their revenge. Soon Müller begins to realise that in order to solve these terrible crimes, she will need to delve into the region’s dark past. But are the Stasi really working with her on this case? Or against her?

For those who really run this Republic have secrets they would rather remain uncovered. And they will stop at nothing to keep them that way . . .

A gripping and evocative crime thriller, moving between the devastating closing weeks of the Second World War and the Stasi-controlled 1970s, STASI 77 is David Young’s most compelling and powerful novel yet

My Review ~

Stasi 77 Is #4 in the Karin Muller series. Each title offering up a unique historical theme. Stasi 77 is set between 1977 and 1943. The chapters alternate, which makes the reading feel so very intense. I found the 1943 scenes from the ww2 concentration camps particularly harrowing. But then they are historically accurate and superbly researched. The history of the ww2 concentration camps is supposed to be uncomfortable reading. If the author is doing their job correctly and bringing the horror of the camps alive on the page.

1977 – Schonefeld Airport – East Berlin
Major Karin Muller and Deputy Werner Tilsner from the serious crimes department arrive to find a victim dead from smoke inhalation. The victim is a leading local party official and is found in an abandoned old cotton mill (state owned). Who is the man? And why would somebody want to kill him?
As Karin investigates she uncovers the murder is not only deliberate but methodically planned. The victims fingernail marks leaving a sign of the sheer terror they knew before death brought salvation.

1943 – Oct – Scene from the camps
Three brothers Gregoire, Marcellin and (narrator) Philippe are transported from Buchenwald, in dire and bleak conditions…
‘I’m not a religious man. But if I was – and if I’d done some of the things that have been done to me and my compatriots and fellow prisoners – then I might imagine, one day entering hell. Today, I no longer need to imagine for I have arrived’ – Philippe
We come to learn the back story of the three brothers, who they are , why they are at the camps and the brutality of camp life they must endure.

Karin must navigate a secretive world. Where access to information depends on who you are and what position you hold. Karin comes to realise she doesn’t hold the relevant title or access to information on leading political figures and that continuing such leads, may put her own life in danger.

‘I never knew their names. But I will never, ever forget those faces’ – Philippe

When the ending finally approached and my time with Major Karin of the Kriminalpolizei was drawing to an end. I desperately wanted to read on…

‘My life is over, but I have memories to cherish, and they flicker like a well-worn newsreel’ – Philippe

5*

DY
David Young
Website
Twitter
My Review of A Darker State
An Extract of Stasi 77
My Review of Stasi Wolf and Q&A with David Young

Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Extract The Wartime Midwives by Daisy Styles #NewRelease #HistFic #Saga #WW2Fiction #ww2

coverThe Wartime Midwives by Daisy Styles
Review To Follow

Synopsis ~

In the dark days of war a new hope is born . . .
1939.

Mary Vale, a grand and imposing Mother & Baby Home, sits on the edge of the Lake District. Its doors are open to unmarried women who come to hide their condition and find sanctuary.

Women from all walks of life pass through Mary Vale, from beautiful waitress Emily, whose boyfriend has vanished without trace, to young Isla, cast out by her wealthy family after her first year at university goes horribly wrong.

Awaiting them is Nurse Ada and Sister Anne who work tirelessly to aid the mothers and safely deliver the babies. But the unforgiving Matron and Head of Governors, Captain Percival, have other, more sinister, ideas.

As war looms the women at Mary Vale must pull together for the sake of themselves and their babies and Ada and Anne must help protect their patients, no matter what the cost.

Extract ~ 

In her college digs in Durham, Isla Ross took small sips of
water from the glass she clutched in her trembling hand.
‘God!’ she gasped. ‘If only I could stop being sick …’
She was trying to pack her belongings into a suitcase in
order to vacate her room, which her crabby landlady was
keen to repossess.
‘I’ll be off soon,’ Isla had promised.
Secretly, she’d been hanging on for longer than was
sensible for one purpose
only –
to talk to Professor Wiley
about her condition.
‘God!’ She gagged again, as her stomach seemed to rise
into her mouth.
For somebody who hadn’t eaten for what seemed like
days, how could she keep on vomiting like this? After the
bout had passed, Isla almost collapsed on her narrow single bed; staring up at the ceiling, she tried to stop the tears
welling up in her eyes. What a mess she’d made. What an
unbelievable bloody fool she’d been. Up until she’d been
twenty-one years old, she’d never even as much as kissed
a boy; then, at the beginning of her second year at Dur

ham, she’d fallen head over heels madly in love with her
middle-aged English professor, who’d literally seduced
her with the poetry of William Shakespeare.
All through her first year at college her friends had tried
to involve Isla in their social life, which centred around the local dancehall. To start with, just to show willing, she’d
gone along with their giggling plans, allowed herself to be
made up and dressed up in borrowed crêpe dresses. At the
dancehall she’d drunk only shandy, while her friends
downed gin and orange, and she’d actually hidden in the
ladies’ toilet when the dance band struck up.
All Isla had ever wanted to do was to read books and
study English literature: Shakespeare, Byron, Keats, Chaucer, the Brontës, Jane Austen, T. S. Eliot. A star pupil at
Benenden, she’d come to Durham to
study – not to dance and drink and find a boyfriend. She appreciated her friends’ joie devivre (the last thing she wanted was for them to think
she was an intellectual snob), but she really did detest those
Saturday nights at the dancehall, where she actively avoided
men rather than enticed them. When her friends finally
realized how shy and retiring Isla was in public, they stopped
asking her to join them, for which Isla was truly grateful.
And that’s how her student life had been: quiet, peaceful,
studious and
happy – until Professor Keith Wiley had laid
eyes on the cleverest student in his tutorial group. Isla Ross,
with her silver-blue, dreamy Highland eyes and luscious pink lips set in a sweet, heart shaped face framed by curling silver-blonde hair. She had a soft young body, with curves in all the right places, and distinctly strong, muscular legs
because of all the hockey matches she’d played at boarding
school. Though innocent Isla didn’t know it, Keith Wiley
was famous for his dalliances with clever, pretty girls, whom
he charmed with compliments and attention. Nobody could
have been more infatuated than Isla when Wiley critiqued
her essays or selected her to read passages from Shakespeare
and Marlowe in her lilting Scottish voice.

When the professor had asked Isla if she’d like to
accompany him to the theatre to see a local production of The Tempest, Isla had almost swooned in delight. They’d met on a snowy night and walked into the town centre, the Professor gallantly taking her arm in order to stop her from slipping on the icy roads.
The production was mediocre, but Isla thought it was sublime; she knew all the
great lines from the play and whispered them under her
breath as she watched the actors on stage. ‘We are such
stuff as dreams are made on,’ she murmured.
Taking her hand and softly kissing her fingertips, Keith
Wiley had concluded the line for her: ‘And our little life is rounded with a sleep.’
Hearing his deep Northern voice in her ear, Isla’s pulse
raced and her heart beat so fast she was sure
he would hear it. During the interval they drank sherry at the bar
and discussed the performance; Isla had never been so
happy, so alert and so in tune with another human being. He might be double her age and her tutor, but she was quite incapable of
resisting his kisses; in fact, she welcomed them with an intensity that surprised her. ‘Goodnight, dearest girl,’ he’d murmured as they parted, with
the snow still falling softly around them. ‘Come and see
me in my rooms tomorrow; we have so much to discuss.’
Weak at the knees, Isla had agreed and gone to bed in
a haze of romantic infatuation.‘And
look where that got me!’ she thought bitterly now.

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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.

Me kindle scout pic
George Stratford
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