Guest Post: Christoph Fischer

How Research can turn into Inspiration

christoph-portraitIt is an absolute pleasure to invite fellow author, Christoph Fischer as a guest writer on my blog. It was several years ago, I was lucky enough to meet him and we got to know each other by networking, mostly via Facebook. I have read and reviewed his book, the Luck of the Weissensteiners, a passionate wartime drama of a jewish family’s under the threat of the Nazis. I was curious to know how he might have researched his novels.

Over to you, Christoph

Most of my research starts out as regular reading, un-related to writing. For example, while digging up information about my family’s roots in Slovakia, I first had the idea for my novel “The Luck of the Weissensteiners”. Suddenly the reading became more involved and I started to make fact sheets for locations and dates to use while writing the novel. I made a timeline for all the big background events, read novels that were set at the same time and tried to get hold of eye witness reports, so as to know as many details about the history as humanly possible.

I’m very nervous about being “caught out” by historians and always make sure that I have information from two independent sources before using it in my work, preferably one printed and one on the internet.

Even for my mystery books I try to check all the facts as not to distract expert readers with a silly error. For my medical thriller “The Healer” I consulted a friend who is a Doctor to make sure that my descriptions of all procedures were accurate.

I’m consoled by a story from Ian McEwan who spent months shadowing a surgeon for “Saturday”, only to find that the car he assigned to his character in the novel came as automatic only, and not as gear driven as he had mentioned in the novel. It gets to show how many traps there are for a writer.

Yes, I can identify with that! I’ve made similar mistakes myself so it is definitely worth checking these things out – so on to the next topic:

How has the research process shaped your latest novel?

With my latest novel, “Ludwika”, things were a little different. Friends of mine asked me to help them to find out more about their Polish mother’s time in Nazi Germany. Since they didn’t speak German, my sister and I had to conduct the search for them. We had contact with archives and eye witnesses who were still alive. I got drawn into reading books about the time and places and searching Wikipedia pages. What had happened in Poland during the war, beside the death camps and the Warsaw Ghetto? I wanted to know for myself.

Ludwika’s was a real story, so I had no intention to use it for a book. However, Ludwika and her story, the mystery behind what we didn’t know about her, and the tragedy of that we did know, gradually formed a narrative and a character that I couldn’t leave alone.
So I did the same as with “The Luck of the Weissensteiners” and composed fact sheets, time lines and began writing.

Research is like solving a puzzle.

It is incredible how writing can draw you into a different world and the book sounds really intriguing. So can you tell us more about it?

Ludwika: A Polish Woman’s Struggle To Survive In Nazi Germany

ludwika-book-conceptIt’s World War II and Ludwika Gierz, a young Polish woman, is forced to leave her family and go to Nazi Germany to work for an SS officer. There, she must walk a tightrope, learning to live as a second-class citizen in a world where one wrong word could spell disaster and every day could be her last. Based on real events, this is a story of hope amid despair, of love amid loss . . . ultimately, it’s one woman’s story of survival. 

Editorial Review: 

“This is the best kind of fiction—it’s based on the real life. Ludwika’s story highlights the magnitude of human suffering caused by WWII, transcending multiple generations and many nations.

WWII left no one unscarred, and Ludwika’s life illustrates this tragic fact. But she also reminds us how bright the human spirit can shine when darkness falls in that unrelenting way it does during wartime.

This book was a rollercoaster ride of action and emotion, skilfully told by Mr. Fischer, who brought something fresh and new to a topic about which thousands of stories have already been told.”

You can download, the book on Amazon here: http://bookShow.me/B018UTHX7A

And finally, a little about Christoph

christoph-booklaunchChristoph Fischer was born in Germany, near the Austrian border, as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. Not a full local in the eyes and ears of his peers he developed an ambiguous sense of belonging and moved to Hamburg in pursuit of his studies and to lead a life of literary indulgence. In 1993 he moved to the UK and now lives in Llandeilo in West Wales. He and his partner have several Labradoodles to complete their family.

Christoph worked for the British Film Institute, in Libraries, Museums and for an airline. His first historical novel, ‘The Luck of The Weissensteiners’,  was published in November 2012 and downloaded over 60,000 times on Amazon. He has released several more historical novels, including “In Search of A Revolution” and “Ludwika”. He also wrote some contemporary family dramas and thrillers, most notably “Time to Let Go” and “The Healer”.

Useful Links and Social Networks

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A very big thanks goes out to Christoph for sharing this with me and I wish him the very best with his future writing projects.

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Back to Writing: an update – 6th May 2016

BookCover-BlackSince I wrote my post ‘Time for a Break‘  on April 11th, I am pleased to be back in the writing saddle, so to speak. I am now pressing ahead with the final chapters of Book 4 Retribution before the book (and indeed the whole Same face Different Place series) reaches a dramatic finale.

I have given myself a deadline until August to complete the first draft but then comes the editing; the process of reshaping everything I have written so far into a tighter, more cohesive novel. In the three decades I’ve covered, I’ve brought in a lot of characters and with each developing story line, so emerged many more. My promise to readers of the previous books is that there is more of everything the series is renowned for – larger than life gangland villains, heart-wrenching emotions, love, hate, cruelty, compassion and suspense by the bucket load. It’s not easy to say when the book will be released but I’m gunning for summer 2017.

In the meantime, here are some other things I’ve been up to:

Blogging

Last month, I was delighted to be featured as a guest blogger on Sandra Danby’s website, talking about research. To see the feature, click here.

I have joined a new group ‘Mystery People’ run by Lizzie Haynes with her own blog, Mystery People website and e-newsletter filled with reviews and features for mystery crime writers.

Now I’ve started engaging with other new writers and book bloggers, I have some exciting author Q&A Interviews lined up in the coming months which I will promote as they occur.

Event

At the end of May, I will be participating in a talk at Worthing Library event with CHINDI authors. The event is scheduled for 7-9pm on Tuesday 31st May at Worthing Library. Between us we will be covering the topics of  different Publishing Platforms, Book Cover Design, Editing & Proofreading, PR and Social Media before throwing the floor open to questions.

New Publicity Material

I have just designed a new poster, covering the first 3 books and matching postcards in time for this event. Designs are as below (you can click to enlarge the images).

Postcard-2016

poster-2016

So that’s it for May and I expect I’ll be doing an update on the Worthing talk, unless there is any other exciting news in the mean time.

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The Beauty of Listed Buildings – 19th April 2016

A chance visit to Blackburn in Lancashire inspired me to write this post, mainly because it evoked my love of historic buildings. The Mercure Blackburn Dunkenhalgh Hotel and Spa in Clayton Le Moors is such an example, described as ‘a converted 700-year-old country manor in a tranquil setting.’

mercurehotel

Modern architecture has its place in today’s society where a progression of more efficient construction techniques and machinery has resulted a rapid turnaround and faster return, compared to the years of exhaustive toil endured by hundreds of labourers. Yet it is important that these older buildings are preserved, if for no other reason to honour the skill and craftsmanship that prevailed in years gone by.

The first sight of this building was breathtaking; a square construction of golden stone, two wings topped by crenelated battlements reminiscent of a castle. The interior was even more beautiful. The rooms feature panelled ceilings with decorative plasterwork (known as a cornice) as well as huge windows. They are adorned with pelmets and drapes of a heavy brocade and the furniture has a traditional feel that reminds you of a stately home.

Panelled Ceilings are an attractive feature of historic Houses

Panelled Ceilings are an attractive feature of historic Houses

So why this interest in traditional architecture? It was the sight of the fine staircase that prompted me to write this – allowing me to recapture memories of my second book Visions, the start of a long and absorbing research project into the restoration of older properties.

I was interested in period property before I wrote Visions; a subject that is extremely complex where I found myself hankering to express some of my passion into my novel.

The plot is equally complex. James Barton-Wells is the owner of a magnificent country hotel built in the 1700s and passed down through his family – but it is the fated visit of a property developer from London that sends his life plunging into chaos. The house is in need of extensive restoration and without it, James faces the agonising prospect of losing his ancestral home.

Little does he know that he is the unwitting victim of a scam and about to fall prey to the rapacious Perry Hampton. It is Perry’s lust for power that has drawn him to James’s property, thinking he can turn it into a corporate venue and a potential gold mine. First he must drive the current owner out by making him bankrupt. It is a scheme which involves some unscrupulous players of his own; from a chartered surveyor who issues the first damning survey – to a shady building firm. Their instructions from Perry, to delay the reconstruction of damaged staircase, is designed to keep the hotel closed for as long as possible, forcing James to lose valuable income. Yet this is just the start – Perry’s utter ruthlessness is guaranteed to keep his victims in a state of fear as the destiny of Westbourne House hangs in a veil of suspense…

And while I’m still thinking about that beautiful staircase, here is an extract:

James allowed his eyes to travel back down the staircase, where the tapering grace of the vase shaped balusters struck him as being particularly beautiful; the open string formation was punctuated at intervals by newel posts – the entire construction, built from dark wood, had retained its charm for over two centuries.
“It is lethally dangerous, Sir,” Edward added gravely.
“Dangerous…” James pondered, feeling the first chill of anxiety.
But Edward had not quite finished. “The woodwork has started to crumble. To be honest, I am surprised one of your guests hasn’t put a foot through it…”
James followed his gaze, observing the patterned carpet which trailed down the path of the stairs. Even those colours seemed faded – as if to betray the deterioration of the stairs underneath.
“This staircase must not be used until the damage is rectified,” Edward said bluntly. “Someone could injure themselves. Say, one of your older guests grabbed the handrail for support – any one of the balusters could shatter. The results could be disastrous!”
“Are you trying to scaremonger me?” James whispered in horror.
“Not at all,” the other man replied, unfazed, “though I must insist you close off this staircase.”
“But it’s the only access to the west wing,” James spluttered, “as well as the guest accommodation. If I close off this staircase, I might as well close the entire hotel!”
“I’m afraid that may well have to be the case,” Edward agreed, pinning him with his intense stare again. For several torturous moments, he was silent as he continued to scrawl his notes. But eventually, the tense silence was broken – where the next few words were more damning than James could have predicted.
“You cannot jeopardise the safety of your guests. The fact is, you could replace this entire staircase at a cost of around £2,000 but in its present state, you could be sued ten times that amount if, say, a healthy adult suffered an accident. In the event of this happening to someone elderly, it could be fatal. That figure could run into millions! Do you really want to run the risk?”
“Of course not,” James whispered in a voice which was drained of strength.

This staircase features the same open string formation as described.

This staircase features the same open string formation as described.

VISIONS can be read as a standalone mystery thriller and available from Amazon in Kindle and Paperback formats. It is the 2nd book in the series ‘Same Face Different Place.’

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Time for a Break – 11th April 2016

I really feel it is time I published something about progress on my latest book. I don’t want to keep anyone in the dark but it is coming together very nicely.

morechocolate

There were times when I experienced moments of panic – I glanced at the synopsis and wondered how on earth I was going to create this amount of story matter! Writing this whole series has been a huge undertaking but had I bitten off more than I could chew?

Several months down the line, it has occurred to me that given all the complex twists and character plots, I’ve somehow managed to develop ALL those story lines. Book 4 Retribution, is still a work in progress but I’ve reached a point where it is time to stop and recapture everything that has happened in the novel so far.

With 35 chapters written and the final quarter of the synopsis still ahead of me, I have a clearer vision of how this series will end but it is a finale needs that requires careful planning and execution. Everything that happened, has happened for a reason – so with various loose ends to tie up and a extremely complex mystery to resolve, I have my work cut out.

In Book 3 Pleasures, there was a similar point in the writing process where I hit a brick wall. I had reached the end of a very gripping scene with only the finale to complete – but I was unsure how I was going to get there without the story losing its momentum. 

bookofchocolateSo I am going through a similar process and this could be advice for other writers.

There are times when it is an idea to take a breather; recapture the essence of the book before soldiering on to the end. It doesn’t mean you’ve lost your way. But I know I will create a much better ending if I can digest the story so far.

And while I’m blogging about my thoughts, I have been thinking about the cover. With credits to use up on one of my stock photography accounts, I was forced to make a decision last week. The cover reveal below is an idea I have had for a while now and is probably the one I will run with. 

BookCover-Black

The cover can be clicked to see an enlargement

Note: the top photo is from i-stock.com – fire image from 123RF.com

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It was almost as if it was meant to be… 11th March 2016

Writing can be a huge commitment and I should know.

kent-landscapeI am currently working on my 4th book and have been badgering away since last August to get the first draft done. This means I have my synopsis planned out but each one of those story lines has to be developed. I am speeding my way through the 1990s and so far have covered such topics as the Catholic child abuse scandal and the war in Bosnia but with a vast amount still to write. So dedicated am I in getting this drafted in full before August this year, I haven’t ventured out on any research trips since September 2014.

Once in a while it does me good to get out on location and revisit the places where the books are set. Last year I did actually get to visit Nottingham (one of my characters studies at Nottingham Trent University {formerly Trent Polytechnic} where I went myself) I had a good wander around town to familiarise myself. The scenes set in Nottingham however are short and sweet. The majority of this series is still based around London and Kent by February 2nd it was a good time to make another journey.

Book 4 Retribution had a slight difference; I have set many of the scenes in winter.

The story focuses more on the evil characters and their activities than the lives of the good people. There is a resurrection of organised crime in this book and where criminal gangs play a huge part. It is definitely more of a winter novel than a summer one and lends itself to barren landscapes, less flowers, cold weather and short days. I deliberately chose winter to return to Shoreham Village so I could get a good feel for that atmosphere.

The low sunlight, skeletal trees and long shadows create a slightly more sinister ambience for Book 4 Retribution. (Click images to see enlarged views).

Being so close to London, I couldn’t resist a chance visit; but only if there was time. Yet it seemed the universe was definitely working in my favour today

I would get the train from Orpington Station, only if I could park. Further more, some very kind gentleman gave me a parking ticket for day which saved me £6. What a stoke of luck! After purchasing my ticket to London, I made my way onto the platform and the train turned up a minute later. Great!

Sitting on the train, I watched the familiar London skyline wander into view with its stunning array of buildings; Canary Wharf, the Gherkin, the Shard… I landed in Waterloo, probably the most prominent station in the series (lots of scenes set here) and for a change, I decided to visit Chelsea. This is a place which is renowned for its antiques and given that one of the characters is in antiques dealer, seemed like a good place to explore.

london-sloanesquare

Beautiful winter sunlight. The looming black clouds and bare branches were particularly stunning in this shot where the timing couldn’t have been better.

I would have liked to have spent a few hours here. Though there was enough time to get a good look round, admire the architecture, take photos and even enjoy a quick bite in the heavenly Café Concerto in Kings Road. The return journey was equally enjoyable (I even relived the underground chase scene from Book 2 Visions) and every time I stepped on platform, the train turned up a few seconds later.

It was almost as if it was meant to be.

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Have a Go: Enter a Short Story Competition – 1st February 2016

2016 kicked off with the first highlight of my writing career. I was picked as a winner for a local short story competition “Write Across Sussex.”

It was a wonderful moment and something I never expected. I’ve never entered a short story competition before, in fact short stories are not really my forté. My writing has been centred around producing full-sized novels which is one of the reasons I was so thunderstruck! A short story needs to be very focussed. You have to capture the essence of the story, the atmosphere and characters in very few words. Dreaming up an idea for a story is the first hurdle, be it a childhood memory or a dream, an item on the news or maybe a funny story you heard down the pub. I thought about some of the things my mum told me about her childhood, where one story stood out in particular. As a consequence, my story is based on a real event that happened in World War II:

Decisions

By Helen Christmas

East Sussex 1940

“You should think about it seriously, Connie. She isn’t safe here!”
Six-year-old Dottie stopped colouring, pencil suspended in mid-air, the moment her ears pricked up to the sound of a raised voice drifting beyond the kitchen.
“Shh!” her mother reprimanded. It was only their neighbour Clara, and by the time the conversation was resumed, the voices had dropped back down to a flurry of whispers.
Dottie wasn’t sure what it was about the sentence that unnerved her. She allowed her gaze to wander around the living room, drinking in the atmosphere: her dad’s high-backed chair smothered in dark green upholstery, the subtle fragrance of his Woodbines. She knew his health was frail. He seemed to spend a lot of time in bed when he wasn’t pottering around in the garden, tending to the vegetables and chickens only to stagger back indoors almost breathless.
She could still see the newspaper resting on the arm of his chair. She sighed, confused as to what was really happening. BRITAIN & FRANCE MOBILISE screamed the headline; it was something to do with the war.
Once again, she pictured the tidy rows of vegetables in their garden and the fruit bushes. Everyone grew their own food. They had a glasshouse too, where Daddy grew strawberries the size of apples; there was always a slightly musty aroma in the kitchen from whatever fruit happened to be fermenting in an old bucket to be turned into wine. Her face buckled into a frown as she listened to the low murmurs emanating from the kitchen. Just the tone of voice suggested something ominous. It reminded her of those radio broadcasts – dark and sepulchral, the ever-rising threat of danger, which always seemed to drain the smile from her mother’s face. Most of all Dottie dreaded hearing the siren – a prolonged and undulating wail, rising and falling, scattering the residents, the sound echoing in her head long after it had ended.

grandmotherConnie pursed her lips, concentrating on her knitting. The rhythmic click of needles was soothing compared to Clara’s constant harping. Yes, of course she had thought about having Dottie evacuated. On the one hand, Clara was right; the child might be a lot safer. Coastal towns were frequently being bombed as the Germans dropped their load prior to returning home across the Channel. Even the cumbersome lump of steel in their bedroom that served as an air-raid shelter bore testimony to the ever-present threat of war looming over their heads.
“I think the Children’s Overseas Reception Board is a wonderful idea,” Clara gushed.
“I see,” Connie sighed, “and you say they’ll be sailing out on a steamship?”
“It’s one less thing for you to worry about, dear,” Clara added with a faint smile. “To a lot of these kids, it feels a little bit like a holiday. I saw some evacuees going off on a train yesterday – you only had to look at their faces.”
“But Canada…” Connie whispered to herself.
How could she bear it? Especially when William was so unwell? Doctors had said it was a ‘miracle’ he had even survived the onslaught of tuberculosis. He might not live long and Dottie was an only child.
By the time the sun sank behind the apple trees, she was still thinking about that conversation, watching as the light began to fade and the long shadows came stalking across the vegetable patch. The air had turned a little icy, the soft clucking of chickens indicating that they too were snuggling down for the night. It was nothing compared to the chill that fluttered over Connie’s shoulders – she stared up into the sky and shivered.

Dottie found herself being shepherded into school, where the usual lines of children snaked across the yard before separating and trailing into their respective classrooms.
Whatever Mummy and her neighbour had been talking about, she hadn’t said much. Her face had been a little pinched when she stepped into the lounge from the garden, wiping her hands on her apron. The light from a table lamp emitted a golden glow where it cloaked the walls. It threw soft shadows over Daddy’s face as he sat dozing in his chair, and for the rest of the evening, there had been an unsettling silence. She could still hear the click click of her knitting needles, all conversation suspended – she pictured the lemon yellow wool she had spotted, hoping it would be for a new cardigan.
Yet all thoughts of her gentle home life were shooed from her mind the moment the headmaster materialised. He strutted into the corridor, head high, eyes glittering as they feasted on the encroaching line of children as if they were some sort of insects. Dottie shivered, forcing her head down between her shoulders, trying to make herself as invisible as possible. Was it only last week he had clipped her round the ear for no good reason? She had been fidgeting in her chair, that was all. The flash of a hand came from nowhere and she saw stars. She felt the well of tears behind her eyes before she could stop them, her lip trembling.
“Dottie, do get a move on. You’re dithering, dear.” The voice of her classroom teacher oozed from behind her.
She flinched for a second time, squeezing out a smile. “Sorry, Miss Porter.”
The classroom fizzed with activity as her classmates clutched the wooden boxes they were issued with. Fingers poked at the clasps and straps – gas masks, they were told. Before she even knew what was happening, the teacher was speaking again, urging them to try them on – this is a drill, if the bombs come down and the Germans invade… Dottie stared at the little boy in front of her. The mask had a long tube jutting out at the front that made him look like an elephant! Some of them even looked like Mickey Mouse! Titters and giggles escaped from every corner but did nothing to lighten her mood. It wasn’t funny, it was scary.
The next thing she knew, she could hear that haunting sound – the air-raid warning. The teacher told them it was a recording, but it made no difference. Dottie felt the shroud of goose pimples crawling all over her arms and down her back, never able to forget the effect it had on people. Her hands shook. She clutched the edge of her single wooden desk.
“Now get under your desks, all of you!” Miss Porter’s voice fired across the classroom. “Try to imagine this as a real air-raid warning!”
Dottie did as she was told and scuttled under her desk, her arms wrapped around her head as if to fend off some invisible attacker. But what if it ever was real? Would her little wooden desk be enough to protect her?
“It could save your life one day,” Miss Porter added. Her voice had a hollow ring to it that, even to a child of six, didn’t sound that sure.

“Mummy, are the Germans really coming here to attack us?” Dottie lisped.
Her mother’s face froze into an expression of shock. She lowered her knitting needles very slowly, then rose to her feet and clutched the top of Dottie’s arms. She moved her head a little closer so they were level and gazed deep into her eyes.
“My poor child, I have something to tell you,” she mumbled. “You must know how much Dad and I love you, so we’ve been thinking – did you know some kids have been sent away to live in the countryside?”
Dottie’s eyes grew wider. She nodded her head.
“It’s not safe living by the sea any more,” Connie added, her voice cracking slightly. “It’s the coastal areas that are being bombed, and yes – England is under attack. Some people are saying it would be safer if our children went abroad.”
“Abroad?” Dottie gasped. “You mean to another country?”
“Yes,” her mother sighed. “Another country – a big country called Canada. I’ve heard it’s very beautiful. It will be fun, Dottie, and far enough away to afford you a safe home.”
“Will it be forever?”
“Not forever,” Connie shot back at her, “only until the war’s over…”
“Is this what you and Mrs Hawthorne were talking about yesterday?” Dottie whispered.
Her mother’s eyes seemed to darken. They held her stare, two widely spaced pools of uncertainty and fear. A slight sheen of tears made them appear glassy, and for that moment, Dottie thought she was going to start crying.
“It was her idea. She too worries about your safety, Dottie, as do we all…”

Dottie found it hard to sleep, even though the exhaustion of the day dragged down heavily on her limbs, her mind and, most of all, her heart. Deep down, she knew what Mummy said was probably very sensible. She had barely stopped thinking about the drills at school, the air-raid sirens and the gas masks. They loomed in her mind like dreams, as if to remind her of the constant fear being bounced around the classroom.
She didn’t want to die.
At the same time, she didn’t want to be parted from her home.
Dottie clutched the bedclothes in terror and peered over the top of the counterpane. All she could think about was their lovely garden – of sitting under the blackcurrant bushes when the sun was hot – of Daddy scratching around with his hoe, humming to himself, occasionally interrupted by his chesty cough. She thought about the chickens, how much fun it was when she and Mummy had crept into their pen to collect the eggs. She clung to the memories of walks in the South Downs. Sometimes her uncle gave her a piggyback. There were cow pats as big as dustbin lids. She would grip his shoulders even tighter for fear he might drop her. Cowslips flourished in the grassy banks, the same pale yellow as her mother’s wool – Daddy picked great bunches of them to make wine.
The thought of sailing away on a great steamship known as the SS City of Benares surged darkly in her mind; about to tear her away from everything she loved. And it was in the silent darkness of her room, she eventually cried herself to sleep.

daphne1Connie admired her daughter next morning. She was dressed in a pleated skirt, socks pulled right up to her knees. She helped her button up her blouse and brushed her hair – it was blonde and very fine, cropped in a neat bob just above her jaw. Connie swept it back from her forehead and fastened it with ribbon, looping the ends into a big bow, where it fell to one side.
Her eyes were an unusual grey-blue. Yet it took one glance to see she had been crying.
“What’s the matter, dear?” she murmured.
“Please don’t send me away,” the little girl begged.
Connie swallowed, pained to look at her. “This is a wonderful opportunity for you, Dottie. Dad and I discussed this. The truth is, there is a war on, and neither of us want you to die.”
“So what about you?” Dottie whined. “Don’t make me go away, please! I want to be here with you, even if they do drop the bombs! I couldn’t stand it if you were killed… I’ll be all on my own.”
She started sobbing. Connie backed away, but it was as if she couldn’t let go – her small hands stretching out in front of her, clawing at her coat.
“It won’t be forever,” Connie said again. “We only want what’s best for you, sweetheart.”
“No!” Dottie squealed at her. “I don’t want to go! I won’t, I won’t, I won’t…”
Connie closed her eyes. Her palm fell upon her daughter’s silky head as her sobs became almost hysterical. The child was right – they were such a small family, and if she was true to her heart, she couldn’t bear to be parted from her either.
It was in that splinter of a second, she made her decision.

It was some three months later, they were alerted to the radio broadcast.
The date was September 17th, a day when the SS City of Benares had been torpedoed and sunk, carrying ninety child evacuees bound for Canada. Seventy-seven of them had perished.
It was the voyage her daughter had been destined for.
Connie wept, but not out of relief. She wept for the other mothers – those who had made the wrong decision, unable to imagine their agony, their children lost forever.

********

On January 23rd 2016, I attended a special award ceremony in Chichester along with the other winners and each of us was presented with an anthology of the winning short stories. It was a truly magical moment – and as if it wasn’t enough to have the privilege of meeting best selling authors, Kate Mosse and Peter Lovesey, (who judged the competition), I was awarded the compliment that my story was a firm favourite and beautifully written. I felt an unmistakable glow of pride – even better, the book is on Amazon.

It was definitely worth entering this competition. I feel truly blessed and hope this may inspire other budding writer to have a go.

ceremony11

With best Selling author, Kate Mosse

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