#VJDay today – when peace broke out across the world after Japan surrendered 75 years ago. Now that is something to celebrate. Many times I felt overwhelmed with the challenge of writing about #WW2 from so many viewpoints but it was an era, a conflict, that had informed my childhood and always fascinated me. Many members of my generation grew up on a diet of war films, bomb-damaged streets and personal histories of veterans and civilians who had lived through those crucial years between 1939 and 1945. Woodbine and Ivy cover those years, and a little bit more. Living vicariously through the experiences of my characters I learned so much about human nature, the insidious creeping evil of occupation by the Nazis in France: the hunger, the fear, and terror of the carpet bombing of Caen in particular where a lot of the story is set. The hardship and the grinding work that went into battling life out on the Home Front was just as enlightening, especially while we are living through the restrictions that Covid-19 has imposed upon our contemporary world. Reviews have been heartening so far and I thank each and every reader who has taken the time and trouble to write one. The Katherine Wheel Series is complete with the publication of Ivy and is my homage to the fallen of #WW2.I can\’t ever hope to do them justice, no-one could, but I\’ve done my best.
Since completing The Katherine Wheel Series with the publication of the sixth and final book, Ivy, I am very pleased with the feedback I\’ve received. Thank you each and everyone who has taken the time and trouble to leave such positive reviews. It means so much when a book like the ones that comprise The Katherine Wheel Series, but especially the latest two, Woodbine and Ivy, involve such vast quantities of research to make the stories authentic.
Thrilled with this magnificent review – and comprehensive article on the whole of The Katherine Wheel Series – by the wonderful #AnneWilliams, book reviewer extraordinaire.
I sound like I have a peg on my nose in this radio chat show! It was a great opportunity and I really enjoyed (most of) the 80s music. Ron and Ian made the whole experience fun and professional. What I hadn\’t reckoned on was talking over my own voice after an eight-second delay. That was truly bizarre. I couldn\’t hear what I was saying currently, only what I had said previously!
Anyway, for those of you interested here\’s the clip. It\’s well over an hour-long, which is great if you want to listen to the music but if you want to catch me spouting about my books I\’m on at 1.23 hours into the clip.
If there are any other authors wanting to go on the show just apply at http://www.chatandspinradio.com
I had an interesting communication with a keen reader this week. She rumbled me!
Now that I have finished the first draft of Ivy, and have therefore worked out exactly how the whole series will conclude, I thought I had better share my reply to her query in case there are other equally diligent and observant readers out there who are also puzzled by the way Cheadle Manor has been bequeathed in Woodbine. This eagle-eyed reader remembered the exact detail of what happened after Sir Robert Smythe died and left his estate, not to his wife, but to his daughter, thus enraging Lady Amelia Smythe in Speedwell (which of course is easily done).
This was my reply:
\”Congratulations on your well-observed spotting of the change in the legal arrangements of Lady Amelia\’s will. When I wrote Speedwell, I intended it to be the final book in the Katherine Wheel Trilogy, as it then was. However, because of the somewhat sad, almost ambiguous ending, other readers encouraged me to write more. Many asked what would happen to the children, and I found that, over time, I became curious too. The final ending of the Katherine Wheel series occurred to me before the rest of the story became clear.
I shall be talking about my books on a radio station called www.chatandspinradio.com
live this Monday night at 8.55 pm. Do tune in and listen or catch up on their facebook page at www.facebook.com/chatandspin at your leisure.
Phew! I completed the first draft of Ivy, the sixth and final book of The Katherine Wheel Series just after midnight last night. It\’s been a long haul and it\’s a big book. Hopefully, I managed to pull all the threads together from the previous five books. The manuscript is now with my editor, who, I\’m very confident, will let me know in no uncertain terms!
Now I have the nailbiting wait for the verdict. After that, it\’s the second draft, which is usually not as onerous as the first. The thing is with creating a story in the way I write is that I have to not only research, and remember it as I write, think up creative solutions for what I am trying to portray for my characters, but also I LIVE it! It\’s a wonderful experience in many ways. Sort of like watching a video across your mind\’s eye but I do experience everything I put my characters through and that\’s what makes it both thrilling and exhausting.
I went to bed very late but it was impossible to sleep as I went over and over the story from every angle. Just as I was dropping off, at about three in the morning we had a tremendous thunderstorm, almost directly overhead. I gave up after that so today I\’m taking it easy!
Of course, there is now the fun of creating a cover, a blurb and a strapline but I may leave that for another day and just get out into the garden.
Tomorrow, the 8th May 2020, is the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day. Then, we celebrated liberation from Nazi oppression. Today, we are fighting an invisible enemy, Covid-19, which is just as lethal.
In honour of today\’s heroes and especially the fallen of World War Two, my latest book, Woodbine, will be on special offer on a Kindle Countdown Deal.
The countdown begins at 0800 GMT tomorrow morning at a knockdown price of 99p for twelve hours, then it will increase until it returns to its normal price of £2.99 by Saturday morning.
So, you\’ll have to be quick to grab it!
Woodbine is Book Five in The Katherine Wheel Series and takes the children of Katy and Cassandra into the troubled and dramatic arena of the Second World War. In a way, it is only one half of the tale, as Ivy will conclude the series and the stories of Lottie, Isobel and Al in Book Six, coming soon, when all the threads will finally come together.
I wrote Daffodils, the first book in The Katherine Wheel Series, many years ago. The location is loosely based on the village where my children were born in Wiltshire. It took me ten years to write, off and on, as life distracted me many times. It was so long ago when I wrote it that the internet wasn\’t really up and running and research was a lot more difficult to access. Many times I felt like giving up, especially as I delved into the atrocity of World War One, not a subject I had any previous inclination to explore. There was no getting around it though, as I followed Katy and Jem\’s lives through that devastating period in human history. And now I\’m doing it again with their children and their struggles through the Second World War!
And yet, as we all face challenges through the lockdown and witness new tragedies happening to families who are victims of this horrible virus, sometimes the dark side of life is inescapable.
I published Daffodils back in 2013 so I was especially pleased to see a fresh review from a discerning reader who posted it on Goodreads. Here\’s the review:
5 *s *****
\”I was given this book by a friend who thought that the WWI setting would appeal to me. It did. But that\’s only a tiny part of the book\’s charm.
Daffodils is a powerful book that puts you into the mind and heart of Katy, an inconsequential servant in a grand English house at the start of WWI.
Katy longs to break free of the restrictions and conventions that govern her life and you feel her frustration living in her claustrophobic village. Jem is a gardener on the same estate and has always loved Katy and when she agrees to marry him it seems that their path is set. However, tragedy strikes with a cruelty that threatens their relationship and things take a turn that leads them both into fear and danger.
I felt I really knew Jem and Katy. What happened to them mattered and I wanted to make things better for them. They are rounded, believable characters and their suffering was all the more real as a consequence. There are other, distinctive people in the book -some of them with character failings that make them unpleasant and even dangerous.
Katy does get to travel, but not under ideal circumstances. Her time during the war is written with a clarity and understanding that was wholly convincing and some of the detail concerning field hospitals in France was fascinating.
I loved this book and am now going to buy the next in the series.\”