I’m delighted to be hosting several of my fellow Pride of Poppies authors over the next few weeks, answering the questions I inflicted on them.
Starting with that little ripper Julie Bozza.
So, my dear, what grabbed you so much about the Pride of Poppies submissions call that you had to send in a story?
I was wearing two hats for this project – and as the tome’s editor I wasn’t going to let my writerly self get away with not contributing. I was particularly interested in the notion that the wartime experiences of GLBTQI people would be much the same as for everyone else in some ways, but very different in other ways. I was also interested in the idea that such dramatic upheavals in society can create opportunities and freedoms as well as having more dire effects.
What were the particular challenges about writing a story set a hundred years ago?
I think there are two main challenges. One is not only getting the details and the language correct for the time, but also the mind-set and world-view. I was certainly aided in all of that by our proofreader F.M. Parkinson, for she is not only widely read and knowledgeable, but is also a spiffingly good historical novelist herself. The other challenge, I think, is trying not to accept unquestioningly the myths and assumptions about the period. We think we know certain things about the era of the Great War, but they’re not always true!
Do you have a ‘hero’ (or heroes!) from WWI? Who and why?
Of course there are so many people who could be named here, both those sung and those unsung. But the one I feel I know the most about is Wilfred Owen. He was an entirely loveable chap whom I think anyone might like and admire. As an officer he went out to France and bravely led his men ‘from the front’. After suffering shellshock, he was hospitalised and on light duties for months – and then he was brave enough to go back out there to fight, when he could have pursued an opportunity to serve safely at home. All the while, he was courageous and honest enough to write openly about the personal experience of war, when of course he was expected to maintain that stiff upper lip and suffer in silence. I think he was a marvellous person, and his early death meant the loss of a good man as well as a good poet.
What are you working on at present?
I am just starting to write a sequel to my novel The Apothecary’s Garden. I hadn’t intended to, but Hilary and Tom haven’t yet left me, and I felt the need to tell more of their story.
Charlie’s note. That last answer has delighted me. Hilary and Tom are adorable.