What a lovely bunch the Pride of Poppies authors (or as Julie Bozza just calls them ‘poppies’) are. Glad to welcome Sam Evans here today; her story in the anthology, “After and Before”, reminded me fondly of “Maurice”.
What grabbed you so much about the Pride of Poppies submissions call that you had to send in a story?
I’ve always wanted to do a story about a couple’s last night together, I just never had the ‘reason’ for the enforced separation. When Julie asked me at the book signing in London in September to have a go at writing a story and submitting it for the anthology it seemed like the perfect moment in time to set my story against.
I’ve always wanted to do an historical story too, so I had the era and the plot bunny so ‘all’ I had to do was the research (a trip to the Imperial War Museum North’s WW1 exhibition) and I was away.
What were the particular challenges about writing a story set a hundred years ago?
The language. I’m fairly sure I stressed about the language I used a fair bit. In my first draft I completely forgot about going metric and wrote distances in metres as opposed to yards. It was also hard not to let modern day words creep in too (I actually researched some words extensively – Disney is at fault for some of them surprisingly!). Plus Wilf and Robert would have used very different language between themselves, with Wilf my gardener probably using more localised language than Robert would seeing as he was educated. I tried to incorporate that in a little – I hope I have got it right. If not I take full responsibility!
Do you have a ‘hero’ (or heroes!) from WWI? Who and why?
I think it is the young boys who lied about their age and signed up. The more research I did and a visit to the Imperial War Museum in Salford brought that home to me even more, they were young and brave– they didn’t get chance to be ‘children’ because they felt they ‘needed’ to fight.
But it was also the people left behind (hence why my story never left the UK). I live in a cold mining area and due to the fact all the men signed up together (whole streets on the same day in some instances) women where the ones who replaced them down the coal mines and in the ammunition factories. Over 400 women died through over exposure to TNT in WW1 a fact that completely knocked me for six.
What are you working on at present? (This question is intended for people to share their next release/work in progress/whatever, but amend the question to suit yourself.)
I’m always working on a number of things. I think like most writers I struggle with my confidence, however I at the moment I am planning and working on a paranormal story set in around a young man who leads a very normal human life in an extraordinary world full of druids, wizards and vampires to name a few.
I’m also attempting to tie up a series I have had floating about for a few years called The Manchester Boy series. The first story in that is set around a policeman and reality TV star and is called The It Boy.
If it’s okay with yourself however I’d like to share an extract taken from my story After and Before from the Pride of Poppies anthology. The story is broken down into moments in time and jumps back and forth from the end of the ward to the beginning. This is from the 2nd part of the story.
“As usual for the time of the year, the external glass-paned door to Robert’s bedroom sat slightly ajar, a warm breeze threatening to sneak its way through the small gap. Across the courtyard, low-level sun turned the sky golden, and as the sun set further it cast long, roof-turret-shaped shadows over the immaculate gravel driveway.
From his position Robert could only hear the familiar sounds of a day winding down. The locking of doors, the clanking of keys and the birdsong that signalled dusk was now falling upon the estate. Only through a small pane of distorted glass could he see over the well-manicured lawns that flanked the driveway. On a normal day they would seem filled with staff fussing over each blade of grass. Tonight, however, an unusual calmness had fallen on the estate leaving the lawns to the mercy of the low setting sun and clusters of flies that swarmed over the heads of flowers Robert had no chance of knowing the names of. Whilst in the distance the rhythmic beat of steam-powered farm machinery thumped along as it snapped grain from the husks.
It could be, Robert thought, anywhere.”