Hi all, today on my blog I have a guest post by Deborah Carr, about where she writes, the author of the new book The Poppy Fields.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.
Young nurse, Gemma, is struggling with the traumas she has witnessed through her job in the NHS. Needing to escape from it all, Gemma agrees to help renovate a rundown farmhouse in Doullens, France, a town near the Somme. There, in a boarded-up cupboard, wrapped in old newspapers, is a tin that reveals the secret letters and heartache of Alice Le Breton, a young volunteer nurse who worked in a casualty clearing station near the front line.
Set in the present day and during the horrifying years of the war, both woman discover deep down the strength and courage to carry on in even the most difficult of times. Through Alice’s words and her unfailing love for her sweetheart at the front, Gemma learns to truly live again.
This is a beautifully written epic historical novel that will take your breath away.
Deborah Carr lives on the island of Jersey in the Channel Islands with her husband, two children and three rescue dogs. She became interested in books set in WW1 when researching her great-grandfather’s time as a cavalryman in the 17th 21st Lancers.
She is part of ‘The Blonde Plotters’ writing group and was Deputy Editor on the online review site, Novelicious.com for seven years. Her debut historical romance, Broken Faces, is set in WW1 and was runner-up in the 2012 Good Housekeeping Novel Writing Competition and given a ‘special commendation’ in the Harry Bowling Prize that year. The Poppy Field is her second historical novel.
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The Guest Post featuring Deborah Carr and Where She Writes
The Poppy Field is my second historical romance, but my first time slip and is set in the present as well as during the First World War. The connection between the two timelines are the nurses – a nurse from a trauma unit who is suffering from burnout, Gemma Kingston and a VAD working at a casualty clearing station, Alice Le Breton. They both spend time at the same farmhouse on the outskirts of Doullens in Picardy, Northern France, although one hundred years apart.
The Poppy Field is the 13th book I’ve written and the 10th to be published and like most of my books was written in my shed. I love this space which has a sign in the window made by my husband, saying, The Plotting Shed. However, it was once known as Grumpy’s Palace named after my nickname for my adorable Miniature Schnauzer, Max who died four years ago. The shed was category winner in the 2009 Shed of the Year competition, which was incredibly exciting, not least because I was interviewed for the Sunday Times. I work at a 1950s table for a desk and have matching pink Lloyd Loom chairs to sit on. I use one and Max used to doze on the other. Now I have three rescue dogs, so having the one chair doesn’t quite work so well.
Having a specific space to write where the accumulation of my notes, notepads and research books can be kept in one place is a luxury. It’s also a bit of a mess with discarded manuscripts, old books discovered at second-hand book fayres and files with information I’ve gleaned through the years written on scraps of paper. When I walk out of my back door along the pathway towards my shed I feel my day-to-day concerns slip away as my mind focuses on my current work in progress.
I was delighted when Charlotte Ledger of HarperImpulse commissioned me to write this book. Returning to this period in time was a joy and I soon drafted an outline of The Poppy Field, which after a little editing was approved by Charlotte. I love researching books and writing that first draft, where anything is possible. I always aim to write 1,000 words each day during my first draft but usually become so involved that I manage 2,500. However, all these words need to be edited – usually several times.
In my shed I also have family photos, cards and trench art from my time researching my first historical romance set during the First World War, Broken Faces. It helps me become immersed in my story by studying these items and wondering who crafted them from the used shells, whether they survived and, if so, what their lives were like after Armistice Day.
I initially became fascinated by this period when researching both my great-grandfathers’ experiences during that war. My paternal great-grandfather served in the 17th Lancers and I based Freddie from Broken Faces on him. My maternal great-grandfather served in the 8th Royal Munster Fusiliers and was shot in the ankle on 3rd September 1916 during the Battle of Guillemont – I used him for inspiration for William, one of the secondary characters in The Poppy Field.
It never ceases to amaze me how our ancestors coped with the restrictions and life-changing events back then. I like to insert information that that I’ve learnt in the book hoping that a reader will not only be entertained by the story, but also enjoy discovering something new that they hadn’t known before. I hope that if you read The Poppy Field, you enjoy getting to know Gemma Kingston and Alice Le Breton, while discovering how they overcame their obstacles and also what happened to the men with whom they fell in love.
Please do go along and take a look at all the other blogs that are contributing to this awesome tour! They are al listed below.