Saturday, 17 May 2014
The Great War
I'm not really what you could call a historian but rather an eager amateur with an interest in history, and I think of myself first and foremost as a fiction writer - the fact that I'm not a professional historian and a fiction writer to boot helped me get the commission for this book.
The publisher, Pen and Sword Books, were looking for writers who were not really historians for a series of books that would concentrate on the home front in specific towns and cities in the United Kingdom. I put in my proposal and a few weeks later I got the contract and then the advance.
I suppose the theory was that a professional historian would deliver a book more interested in the facts and statistics of the Great War, while a writer used to dealing with characters and plots would be able to find the human story, and present a narrative that pays full justice to these remarkable and terrible times...I hope I've done that. I've read it through recently and do think the narrative reads as smoothly as fiction, that the story almost lives on the page. That was something that I kept in mind when writing the book, and I was conscious to try and develop the mindset of the times, so that I would better understand the way people felt about the war, the way they acted.
I started out the project with only a limited knowledge of the Great War, I knew far more about the second war, but I finished the work with a far more rounded knowledge of the war, regarding both the various theaters of war and on the home front.
One of the larger sections of the book deals with the 11th Welsh Regiment, the Cardiff Pals and when I concluded their part of the story I had a very real tear in my eye. I found that section of the book to be particularly emotional - and I know that from now now until the end of my days I will always remember the sacrifices these men made. Indeed the sacrifices that everyone made - for the Great War was truly a people's war and the conflict was, for the first time, brought over into the home front. Prior to the Great War conflicts would often end after only one or two battles, but this war was different, this was the war to end all wars....if only the last were true and of course a couple of decades after the Great War ended the world once again found itself involved in a global conflict.
There'll be a series of books looking at the home front coming out soon from Pen and Sword Books - many of the towns and cities across the country will be covered. So look out for them and please give my own particular title a go. I know it'll appeal mostly to those with an interest in the particular areas covered in the book, but I think the book will be an enjoyable and informative read no matter where you come from.