Hoping that Friday the thirteenth is treating you well. It’s a grey day here, but very mild (probably the start of “St. Luke’s little summer”) and I’ve been attacking my grape vine. Alas, none of them made their way into my tummy, having been devoured by the blackbirds – it was fun to see them flying in and out of the vine to feed.
NewsCount the Shells
is out on Monday – cue the happy dance. It’ll be a busy week with an extensive blog tour and, of course, a bag full of goodies to be won. You can comment at any (or all!) blog stops for a chance to win, and every new comment you make increases your chances of winning. Think of it like raffle tickets…
The first review of the story popped up in Publishers’ Weekly
, about which I’m grinning from ear to ear.Cochrane’s ear for historical idioms and sensitivity to the secrecy of gay life in early-20th-century Britain create a powerful impression of accuracy. This deeply felt work is sure to please fans of historical romance.
It’s been a busy week for me with a local writers’ meet up, and RNA lunch and an ITW interview to start. Can I put in a word for the two latter organisations? Any of you based in the UK who are aspiring writers might consider contacting your local Romantic Novelists Association branch to see if they allow visitors at their events. Ours does, and several of are regulars don’t even write romance! It’s a great networking opportunity. And for those of you who like crime and thrillers, the ITW e-zine, The Big Thrill
, has some great articles in it. Well worth a look through.
Also coming out soon (November 1st) is the charity anthology Call to Arms
which will support refugee aid. All the stories are set in or heavily influenced by World War Two.
My offering is Better to Die, which is inspired by old soldiers, the war grave I tend in the local churchyard and the Gurkha kukri I inherited from my dad.
Here’s an excerpt:
By a coincidence, my great-uncle had served in World War Two, out in Burma, with the Chindits, though it would have been stretching things to hope Great Uncle Frank had known my
Frank was the black sheep of the family. He'd lived in our village until I was five and my fondest memories of the man were the stories he regaled us with. Snakes in the jungle so thin they'd slip through the eyelets of your boots, Gurkha soldiers as hard as adamant that you thanked God were on your side and not the other. Never anything about the fighting, though; he kept that close to his chest.
I'll never forget the dirty great Gurkha kukri Frank kept on his wall. Mum had kittens when he got it down and let me hold it, but I treated it with respect. Didn't so much as nick my fingers.
"Jamie," Frank used to say, "when you take a kukri out of its scabbard, it has to taste blood before it can go back again. That's why I took this out and keep it out, so it doesn't need satisfying again. My fighting days are long gone. You can have it when I'm gone."
"You'll never go," I'd said, secretly delighted that I'd get the thing one day.
"Better to die than to be a coward," he'd replied, enigmatically. Later I found that had been the motto of the Gurkha Rifles, but I was sure there was more to what he was saying than just that.
Frank moved away not long after, and our side of the family lost touch with him. I suspected Dad knew where he'd gone but he wouldn't even let anyone send Frank so much as a Christmas card. When I was twelve Dad sat me down and told me I was old enough to know the truth: war was hard, and Frank had suffered the worst of it. He'd seen some dreadful things, done some dreadful things, and he found it difficult to live with himself. Dad reckoned Frank had come home with something like shell shock so he acted loopy at times. It was safer for all of us not to be near him when things turned bad.
That changed my mind about being a squaddie – I was going to save lives, not take them. Going off to Bart's meant I stopped grave visiting, although I tried to keep up an interest in browsing war books, although that
stopped when I discovered sex. No healthy, testosterone-laden medical student was going to stay at home with 'Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence' when he could be out getting his leg over. Notice I didn't say "when I discovered girls" and you'll get the picture.
And finally, at the RNA lunch we were discussing my 'non-bucket bucket list' which made me remember getting on that Lancaster Bomber. Appropriate with Call to Arms in mind!