Tuesday, 14 May 2013

War Stories

My publisher believes I am at my best when writing stories aimed at male readers. With this in mind I have been working hard at completing a novel set in the opening stages of the Great War. I spent almost as much time on research as on writing the story. That was important and it taught me a lot about a war that was waged long before I was born. In particular it taught me that the brutality inflicted on civilians in that war was just as great as the appalling brutality we see in so many wars reported on our televisions today. The rape of Leuven in August 1914 shows parallels with so many inhuman acts in modern-day conflicts. Has the human race learned nothing about humanity in the past hundred years? I begin to wonder.

I had another reason for writing that story. My grandfather was one of the first to be sent across the English Channel in 1914. He fought and was badly wounded twice and he carried the scars to the end of his life. I wanted to know what it was like. My pre-conceived ideas were centred around the trenches because that’s what most of us think about when the subject of that war comes around. But there was so much more to it than that, and I wanted to learn about the bits that don’t often get talked about.

I see this book as the first in a possible series. It covers what happened in the aftermath of the Battle of Mons. No trenches, the Schlieffen Plan, lots of innocents killed, and the secret agents of Commander Mansfield Smith-Cumming rooting out intelligence. The second story – when I get round to it – will cover the First Battle of Ypres.

I think I’ve talked myself into a big task.

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