Publication of my latest book
I was very fortunate back in 2010 to get the rights of many of my backlist reverted from a couple of publishers. Hearing about ebooks in the US I set out to learn how to produce them, finally achieved that and regularly self-published some. Sales began quite slowly, which didn’t trouble me as I was also writing for another publisher. But once Kindles arrived in the UK in Christmas 2011, I must say my sales shot up surprisingly well and I was amazed by my success. As a consequence in 2013, I was contacted by Amazon Lake Union for an interview, then later offered a contract by them. My first book with them, The Amber Keeper, soon sold over a hundred thousand, and has now sold more. Such a thrill. Selling ebooks is now much higher for me than print books. My second book was Forgotten Women, which is also doing quite well.
Now comes publication of Girls of the Great War, which I loved writing too. I was always supported by my parents, but Cecily in this story had enormous problems with her mother. And there was no sign of her father, which was a great worry to her and her sister Merryn. Queenie was a most difficult woman, refusing to speak of him. She also greatly objected to her boyfriend and plan not to marry a rich man. Her attitude did not please Cecily at all, particularly as the love of her life was currently involved in the war. And when she lost him, she very much wished to perform for soldiers in the Great War
Extract from Girls of the Great War:
Ewan Godolphin was tall and athletic with powerful shoulders and long lean legs, dark brown eyes and gloriously good looking. His face had appeared a little more rugged and tired than usual, as a consequence of all he was suffering in this war. His expression was still filled with warmth, compassion and love. Once he’d returned to his battalion Cecily continued to write to him most days and received regular letters in response. There were periods when she heard nothing at all from him in ages, as had been the case recently. A quiver of fear would rustle through her until his next letter arrived.
‘That boy has little hope of ever earning a decent living,’ Queenie sternly announced. ‘And do not assume for one moment that I will supply you with the necessary funds if you do marry him. I have quite enough expenses, not least dealing with the upkeep of this fine mansion house. You need a man with money and status who can provide you with a wonderful life.’
The irritating thing was that she seemed perfectly content for Merryn to remain at home as her carer, while constantly urging Cecily to marry a rich man with whom she could live her life elsewhere. She’d no intention of obeying such ridiculous instructions, while Merryn was most keen to marry.
‘Happiness in marriage is not about money,’ she remarked dismissively, giving a little chuckle in the hope of lightening her mother’s temper. ‘I really have no wish to be a domesticated, stay-at-home wife with a man I don’t love. I fully intend to live the kind of life that suits me. Ewan is not against my working for a living and proud of the job I do for the electric trams. It’s not quite what I would have chosen to do, but with this war on, I feel it’s right to do my bit. I accept it won’t be easy to find more interesting employment once it is over, or earn sufficient money, particularly as women do not get equal pay let alone the right to vote. That could change with time, and I’ll find something that appeals to me.’
‘Why would you? A young woman’s job should end once she marries.’
Cecily groaned. ‘You sound so Victorian, Mama.’
‘Nonsense! Once a woman is married, she must devote herself to being a good wife and mother. I mistakenly did not do that.’
‘How brave of you to admit that, Mama. What was it you did wrong?’ Cecily asked, surprised to hear her confess this fault.
‘There were times when I felt as if life was treating me like a piece of rubbish. I encountered endless problems, not least the lack of love from my husband. I have no wish to remember his dismissive attitude towards me. You should do what is right and proper in order to find happiness and prosperity.’
Cecily had constantly asked questions about what sort of a man her father was and why he had left them and tragically drowned, receiving no response. Both girls felt bereft at losing a father over whom they had very little memory. There was no point in harassing her further on this subject. ‘Please don’t assume that because your marriage failed, mine will too. Ewan and I are happy together and will make a success of it. If you made the wrong choice of husband, do tell me why?’
Giving a frown Queenie again turned away, avoiding meeting her enquiring gaze. ‘Your father was not an easy man and I was most thankful to see the back of him.’
‘If that is the case, why do I still find you crying for him sometimes, even in your nightmares?’
‘I’m not weeping for him or longing for his return. I’m merely furious at the mess he made of my life, which is why I advise you to ensure yours is better. When I was young I was entirely naïve and dreamed of a perfect marriage. Nothing worked out quite as I’d hoped. Dean ruined my life and I was left feeling in desperate need of love and care. As a consequence, I am extremely thankful for my success on stage and have no desire to discuss this issue further, with you or anyone.’
Cecily stifled a sigh. Was that because her mother had little patience with other people’s points of view, being obsessed with her own opinions and insisting upon complete control of her life? She suspected Queenie might have acquired the art of adjusting her life story by making up false tales in order to avoid revealing certain heart-rending facts. Cecily found it so frustrating that she refused to confide in them about what went wrong with her marriage, and whether their father had suffered an accident or killed himself.
Cecily Hanson longs to live life on her own terms—to leave the shadow of her overbearing mother and marry her childhood sweetheart once he returns from the Great War. But when her fiancé is lost at sea, this future is shattered. Looking for meaning again, she decides to perform for the troops in France.
Life on the front line is both rewarding and terrifying, and Cecily soon finds herself more involved—and more in danger—than she ever thought possible. And her family has followed her to France. Her sister, Merryn, has fallen for a young drummer whose charm hides a dark side, while their mother, Queenie—a faded star of the stage tormented by her own secret heartache—seems set on a path of self-destruction.
As the war draws to a close and their hopes turn once again to the future, Cecily and Merryn are more determined than ever to unravel the truth about their mother’s past: what has she been hiding from them—and why?