I spent most of my childhood during WW II, dodging Hitler’s bombs in air raid shelters, underground railways and even shop doorways if I couldn’t make it to a shelter.
I learned never to go anywhere without a gas mask, and to run like mad whenever I heard the siren warning of incoming enemy aircraft. I learned to spot the difference between a German bomber and a British Spitfire in the skies above me. One was out to get me and the other carried a crew doing its best to save me. The world had gone mad, and my only escape was to get lost in the pages of a book.
Before long I was making up my own stories in my head, and soon after that, I was entertaining my schoolmates with my stories, while we tried to ignore the chaos going on outside the bomb shelter.
I learned a lot about suspense and atmosphere in those dark days. I also learned that in times of great hardship and terror, people find support and comfort in each other. Londoners are a tough bunch. They carried on throughout the Blitz, and everything else the Luftwaffe threw at them, with a hug, a joke and the inevitable cup of tea.
It’s that indomitable spirit and courage that I strive to bring to the Manor House Mysteries. Sitting Marsh may be a tiny village far from London, but it has its share of hardships. What I hope shines through, as it did back then, is the British stiff upper lip, and the determination to carry on, no matter what lies ahead.
My characters deal with murder and mayhem, but they also find time to love and laugh, play and entertain, while giving their time and energy to those in need. To quote Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Only someone who has lived through a war on their homeland truly understands what that means.
Until the next time,