DERRING-DO AND DANGER
I’m really pleased to bring out my latest novel HER PRIVATE WAR; it’s all about frontier girls forging the way ahead for others to follow as the country begins to open up to women.
The years just before the advent of the First World War have been described as the age of decadence; certainly great wealth existed side by side with the most appalling poverty. Britain at that time was the greatest global empire but also a nation divided by riches and class.
Delving into the period, with its contrasts and turmoil, its strikes and suffragette protests, has been a spectacular background for my story about a certain very determined young lady… a daredevil and a rebel. The outbreak of war changed everything, for her and the nation.
I loved researching into this world of pioneering aviation and how it impacted on the war. I hope that adding in the spice of danger, controversy, derring-do and an element of ‘hush hush’ has produced an engaging story.
A TALKING BOOK
My thriller THE FUHRER’S ORPHANS, is now a talking book. Dreamscape audio books published an audio version last September through all the usual retail outlets – Amazon, Apple, Google etc – and it is also expected to be available in libraries.
The novel is being translated for Spain, Italy, Portugal, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia with accompanying print orders. Meanwhile the English language e-book version continues to sell well.
The book won the Yeovil Literary Prize for novels and I was pleased to attend the literary festival in that Somerset town and to read an extract from the manuscript.
Many thanks to all the readers on my e-mail message list who volunteered to review the book . I’m grateful for all the messages that went online (at the last count there were 679 ratings on Amazon) and those that also appear on this web site.
Really happy with progress of my thriller EXIT DAY which came out in November 2019. Orders for the ebook on Amazon Kindle Store were very encouraging. Had a massive five-day giveaway on Amazon when I achieved second place in the rankings.
The paperback sales also went well, especially during several book signings at various bookshops and at libraries.
Bookshops: Norwich, Ipswich, Bishop’s Stortford, Sudbury, Peterborough, Bury St Edmunds, Colchester, Chelmsford, Southend, Southwold. Libraries: Bury St Edmunds, Saxmundham, Newmarket, Lavenham. Last signing: Long Melford British Legion club.
One of the many pleasures of writing is research. I’m studying the Suffragettes at present for a new novel (to follow FLEE) and one of my discoveries is a slim but fascinating volume by Stephen and Tanya Wynn on Women in the Great War. The cover picture really took my eye.
It gives a new insight into the era – not the usual grimness – but the joy and fun of women breaking out of Edwardian convention. I’m looking at a despatch rider in her new uniform, breeches and big boots. She loves the life. Goodbye long skirts.
For other intriguing titles – the latest are Churchill’s Flawed Decisions and Holocaust – see author website stephenwynne.co.uk.
Continuing the Churchill theme – war leader, benevolent imperialist, big spender, serious gambler, risk-taker, debtor, tax avoider. The many layers of this fascinating personality that spawned a thousand biographies, a giant who dwarfs the minnow leaders of today.
These were just some of the revealing insights to be gained at a highly entertaining Literary Festival in Lavenham, Suffolk. The Churchill discussion featured biographers David Lough (the money) and Laurence James (the empire). Better than any TV programme.
Some great warm-ups: Clare Mulley’s intriguing researches into two leading women aviators who flew for Hitler. Not just flyers but engineers and daredevil test pilots – like flying into barrage balloon cables with razor-cutting tips to their wings. You couldn’t make it up!
A friend, Tim Mobbs, gave me two flights and lots of wonderful detailed background information on piloting his bright-red Jodel, a light aircraft built to a French design by a group of enthusiasts in Germany in the Fifties. One of them had a clutch of “kills” in the war.
“Are you feeling brave?” he asked before we took off from a grass strip at Rougham, an old wartime airfield close to Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk. Fortunately, no-one with a machine-gun was on hand to intercept before we landed at another wartime airfield at Seething, Norfolk. Tim’s base is a very well appointed airfield with a tarmac runway, several hangars including aircraft turntables and workshops where he and a colleague are building brand new aircraft.
While there I spotted a somewhat sad-looking plane impounded by Customs following interception of a people smuggling operation.
Then we flew back again using a compass device on his mobile phone. I think I might just about have been able to manage straight and level and keeping her on course.
My next foray was to another grass strip airfield near a tiny village in Suffolk called Monewden (pronounced Monnydon) to see that wonderful old warbird the Tiger Moth, which had service right from the beginning of the last war.
Mike Webster and his colleagues flew over from Cambridge for an open day – in fact there were two Tigers, but the bright yellow version became the star attraction for the crowd.
Fascinating to see the props being swung for a start-up and the guys hanging on wingtips to help with sharp turns on the ground prior to take-off. And for me, lots more inside info, for which I’m deeply indebted.
THE GET OUTTA JAIL CARD?
What’s if feel like? That’s the question constantly asked by The Ghost in Robert Harris’s splendid novel of the same name. His character is a ghost writer quizzing his celebrity subjects, trying to get them to talk.
But the “what’s-it-feel-like” question is just as valid for an author to quiz his own character creations. This is the route to depth and authenticity. So, if one of my characters comes out of jail after a three-year stretch inside, what does the first glimpse of freedom feel like for him?
My question to Gerald Erle Roper in the Munich story. And short of a loquacious ex-con to hand, I went off to Wormwood Scrubs to walk the ground and try to get inside the head of Roper as he leaves the prison gateway. He steps through the arch, looks at the notice threatening dire retribution for anyone assisting a prison escape, then stares at the roadway – traffic buzzing up and down, the Tube rattling away just beyond and all those people rushing about while wrapped up in their daily lives. Ordinary lives, so unlike his own.
I won’t reprise the rest. It’s in the Munich novel. Suffice to say the details of the gateway, that iconic arch, have a fascinating history. Google it, you’ll be intrigued.