Earlier this year, in the course of a friendly chat with an agent, I was warned that numerous books set in WW1 will come onto the market next year. The centenary of the opening shots will spark off a media interest in that war. If my own novel is to have a chance it has to get near the head of the queue. That advice spurred me on.
Tonight I completed the final run-through of In Foreign Fields, the first in a trilogy of stories set in the Great War. My publisher hopes to have it on Amazon before Christmas. I set this story in August 1914, at the time of the retreat from Mons. I was giving myself plenty of leeway for later stories should this one catch on. The second book – I’m already fifteen thousand words into it – will concentrate on the first battle of Ypres.
When Bernard Cornwell was writing his Sharpe novels he was faced with the problem that no single soldier would have been present at every battle in the Peninsular War. Could I take one soldier all the way through the major battles of WW1? In order to make that a viable option, I made him an agent of Mansfield Smith-Cumming, the head of the Secret Intelligence Service which later became MI6. My big fear is that I may have set myself a huge mountain to climb if I am to take my soldier all the way through to 1918.