I hope you’ll enjoy your visit, and will go on to sample the blogs of other writers, highlighted below. We are part of a growing international community of writers, working to introduce each other’s blog to a wider audience. Christine Findlay, Chair of Bookmark Blair, (Blairgowrie Rattray and The Glens Book Festival) in Perthshire, Scotland, invited us to take part. (see www.cfindlay.blogspot.com).
Marc Mordey invited the writers Helen Carey http://helencareybooks.wordpress.com, Stewart Bartlam http://helencareybooks.wordpress.com and myself, Gillian Mawson, http://whaleybridgewriter.blogspot.co.uk/ to follow him on the tour.
So, now it’s my turn and there are 4 questions for me to answer :
1. What am I working on?
I have just completed the text and images for a new book 'Evacuees: Children's Lives on the WW2 Home Front' (Pen and Sword, September 2014). It contains the personal stories of 100 evacuees - not just children but from mothers and teachers who accompanied them - who spent the war in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. I also include evacuees from the Channel Islands and Gibraltar, France, Spain, the Ukraine and Belgium. You can read extracts from the stories, and see wartime photographs, here: 100 EVACUATION STORIES FROM THE SECOND WORLD WAR
My previous book, 'Guernsey Evacuees: The Forgotten Evacuees of the Second World War' (History Press) told the overlooked true story of 17,000 evacuees who fled Guernsey to England in June 1940, just days before it was occupied by Germany for five years - see :GUERNSEY EVACUEES: AN OVERLOOKED STORY
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
That is a difficult question to answer as others write about Second World War evacuation. I can only say that I have a real passion for interviewing evacuees to find out what their experiences were during the war. I feel truly honoured to listen to their stories and admire their resilience during such a difficult time in our history. I love sharing their stories, wartime photographs and documents with the public via books, talks, newspapers and my blogs. I also reunite evacuees with wartime friends, create workshops for schools, organise public events and create displays for museums. Due to the advanced age of Second World War evacuees, it is vital that their stories are recorded now before it is too late.
|At my most recent event, evacuee Mary Luxton showed children this teddy bear which she took with her, from Guernsey to England, in June 1940 (See more about this event in the following blog)|
3. Why do I write what I do?
I think I have partly answered this question in the one above. I began to interview evacuees in 2008 and have not stopped since! The total interviewed to date is 450 from all over Britain and Europe. I continue to interview an evacuee every week or two, and to search through archives for related wartime documents. I have ideas for several more evacuation books.
4. How does my writing process work?
I usually begin with interviews, then examine wartime archives in the area in which the evacuee was billeted. Once I have gathered enough interviews, photographs and archive material together, I sit down to work out the format of the book, then proceed to write. For my first book, 'Guernsey Evacuees', I was able to write during the day, so would sit at my desk from 10am to 5pm every weekday, constructing chapters. My new book 'Evacuees' was constructed differently. I have a part time job and care for an elderly relative, so fitted the work in whenever I had some spare time.
|In 1939, Dr Maxwell sent this letter from Lancashire to Germany, promising that he would care for Dr Plessner's refugee son, Wolfgang|
And finally, I want to introduce you to 3 friends whose work is wonderful – please visit their blogs to find out more. These talented folks will be offering their answers to the same 4 questions on Monday 26 May. And anything you can do to help us all share our words and ideas through your own networks would be much appreciated. Thank you
Anne Allen lives in Devon, by her beloved sea. Her restless spirit has meant a number of moves, which included Guernsey, where she lived for nearly fourteen years after falling in love with the island. She contrived to leave one son behind to ensure a valid reason for frequent returns. By profession Anne is a psychotherapist, but recently took up her pen to write novels, set on Guernsey. Dangerous Waters and Finding Mother are published and a third is incubating
At the beginning of World War 2, Rita was evacuated from her school in Birmingham, England. She remembers being frightened and terrified, having to wear a gas mask and not knowing where she was going. However, she was billeted with a good family who treated her well – she was one of the lucky evacuees. She was given nice clothes to wear and treated to a holiday once a year. The lady was understanding but strict. Rita became an archaeologist later in life and has written her autobiography, 'Toffee Apples & Togas'. She is now studying the Minoan linear B ancient Language. BLOG: http://ritaroberts.wordpress.com/
Based in the West Midlands, Michelle is a freelance writer and author specialising in history and heritage. She is the author of seven social history books, most of which are about the Victorian era. As a writer, she is always keen to root out the seemingly insignificant details which help to bring history to life. Her latest book A Visitor’s Guide to Victorian England (Pen & Sword) was published in February. BLOG: http://visitvictorianengland.blogspot.co.uk/ and www.michellehiggs.co.uk