I first heard stories about my grandmother’s early life discussed at family gatherings, or around the dinner table when I was just a small boy, but it wasn’t until my grandfather elected to share his war stories with me that a genuine spark was ignited. He knew he was dying of terminal lung cancer and his own children were astonished he chose to share his experiences with his eldest grandson, when he’d previously never mentioned a word of his remarkable life during the war to anyone in the family.
Long after his death, a diary he kept during the war surfaced and this only added to fan the flames of curiosity. By this time I knew I wanted to write and, most of all, I knew I must tell my grandparents’ story. But where would I start? There were so many gaps in the story as I knew it then and I was faced with painstaking research, particularly in regard to my grandmother’s family tree.
Their story is finally written, but I feel I must thank a number of people for their invaluable assistance. Without them, this book would never have seen the light of day. Firstly I’d like to acknowledge the help I received from the staff at Liverpool Central Library when looking at Parish records and reams of microfiche, in an attempt to track down my grandmother’s family. I must also thank my mother Emily for her unstinting support and for providing most of the photographs contained within the book. Last of all I must recognise the priceless contribution from my great aunt Margie and great uncle Albert. Without them I simply would never have written this book. They filled in so many gaps for me and joined up many of the dots, and their unselfish willingness to help in whatever way they could was typical of two remarkable people. They don’t make them like Margie and Albert anymore and, perhaps it’s an overused expression, but they certainly broke the mould when they came along.
Finally, I must recognise the incredible contribution of my talented daughter Lucy, who not only designed the front and rear covers, but also updated my website and advised me in a myriad of ways too numerous to mention.
Thank you for reading, click here to find out more about Annie's War.
Guest blog for A Woman's Wisdom.
I’m a great believer in keeping mind and body together and find if I run about ten miles per week, it helps me keep a physical and mental balance. Although I run with my I-Pod on (an eclectic taste in music that encompasses, jazz, r&b, blues and modern stuff, such as The Arctic Moneys, Jake Bug and John Mayer…. but my favourites are and will always be, Steely Dan) I use the time for thinking and the music often shrinks into the background, as I tackle a series of thoughts, usually related to a plot line, but on occasion real life issues.
I get irritable and suffer from a kind of cabin fever if I can’t and don’t run. I run in all weathers and luckily (quickly touches wood – my head in fact) I don’t suffer from any short or long term ailments, that might otherwise prove an impediment to my chosen mode of exercise.
I can’t say that I’ve ever come up with an idea for a book or short story when running. A moment of inspiration can happen at any time in my experience and I find I can never force myself to come up with something new. It just kind of happens. From where? I wish I knew. I’ve come to the conclusion also that if a story is worth telling I’ll remember it. Those wonderful ideas I thought I had are often forgotten, so what I’m saying is I rarely write spurious ideas down. The Prince of the City series is a case in point. The rough outline has been bubbling away in my head for years and at the suggestion of a fellow author I’ve decided to tell the story in a series of five short novels. As my friend proved to me, series sell and this is an area I’m only more than happy to try and exploit.
I do however as alluded to above, run plot lines through my head, solve problems, formulate characters. I can come up with little nifty twists and turns as I traverse the ups and downs of my run.
This wouldn’t and shouldn’t work for everyone, but it works for me and I think it makes me a better writer. It enables me to take a step back and examine the storyline from many different angles. This is particularly useful during the rewrite process, when you’re trying to create something from the rough draft of your initial download.
Anyway I must end this now, as my running shoes are staring back at me and I can feel the need to breathe the fresh air, experience a burn in my lungs and legs and extinguish the gathering anxiety, but most of all I need to give the little grey cells a work out.