Everybody has a book in them, or so it's said. But it's something else again getting it onto the page and to a place where it might be shared.

I have been writing since I was a young child. Always, my dream was to see my name on the spine of a book. Books gave me life, a dream to live by. Through their portals I could escape so easily into other worlds. Books also saved my life ... yes, really!

This is the story of my books and my journey as an author, including a very personal view of my journey through Life. I hope it will inspire and give hope to writers and readers young and old.

Getting published can be a waiting game. It's hard .. and getting harder. But then sometimes it can happen in an unexpected way and suddenly, we truly are living our dream. And we realise that it isn't after all the winning that is important, but the journey that is ours along the way.

I would love to hear from anyone who connects with what is written here. A signed copy of any of my books is available. You have only to write and ask:

Monday, 28 March 2011

BROTHERS: A First World War Story of Courage & Commitment

Published by Farthings, November 2010

ISBN: 978 1 4461 6614 7

A signed copy is available £7.99 + £2.80 pp

To be submitted into the COSTA AWARDS 2011.

History makes us who and what we are. And through research, we can come up with surprising answers.

Genealogy fascinates me. When I'm not writing, and even when I am, I don't just want to find out about people in my past, I want to know them, to uncover their stories, because it makes sense of who I am today.

A good few years ago now, I began researching my parents ancestry and have now gone back to the late fifteenth century. I discovered way way back my father's family had fought in the Crusades. A Harrington invented the Penny Farthing. Sir John Harrington, godson to Queen Elizabeth 1, invented the first flush toilet. My mother's great grandfather on her mother's side was a Dane. He grew up in a small fishing village with his parents in Drago, Denmark. Hans Christian Anderson was around Copenhagen at the same time, and I can't help wondering if he ever went to listen to his stories being told. Johanne Kromann, my great great grandfather, learned to speak several languages and in time, became a Linguist, travelling on ships, translating for passengers before settling to marry his sweetheart Sarah, in Bow, London. There, he became a dealer in nautical instruments. He was found murdered in India Docks around the time of Jack the Ripper at the same age I am now. For two years, his identity of the body they found in the water with severe knife wounds was not known. I can't imagine what his wife and children went through when he didn't return home. They were forced to move in with relatives. While his son, Joseph, eventually went to work in shipping, on the docks, and married Mary living a few doors down in the same street.

The more I found out the more I wanted to put their life together as a story. And so it was that slowly, I began to pull together different threads, discovering to my surprise that, far from having a few bits and pieces, I had a wealth of history to draw from, and actual writings and documents of the time.

In September 2008 I went on one of Ledger's Pilgrimage Tours where I visited personally the graves of William and Arthur, my two great uncles, who were killed during the First Great War. It had a profound effect. The guide took such an interest as I was the only one with two graves to visit and the fact that I was thinking of writing a book, that he agreed with the coach driver to take me into France as well as Belgium. I stood where each of them had died. I followed their route. I walked in a trench through woods, trying to imagine the scene, to feel as they had felt, with blasting and confusion and darkness and the shouted order: 'Over the top!' ringing in their ears. And the words of a poem came to me as I sat on the bed one evening, words which summed up so elequently what it had all been about and the utter futility of war in all its forms. They were the words I spoke over their graves. Ledger later published them in their promotional magazine.

This book, just like the poem, came from another place, another time. It was as if I were living the war with them. I didn't eat or sleep properly until it was done. I put my life on hold. And when it was done I didn't want for it to be over, because I felt so close to them. I didn't want to let them go.

I was the instrument through which they wrote this book. It became their voice. They needed people today to know what it was like. Because it mattered. History matters. It teaches us so much.

And things have happened since which cannot be explained.

I came together with Tony almost one year ago. He turned my life around. He gave me suddenly a future to look forward to, and in every moment that we share, there is a memory of something beautiful and almost profound. He gives me freedom to grow, and the inspiration to write, and is always there, supporting, encouraging, loving me just the way I am. When this book came out in September last year the publishers said they would put it forward for the Costa Award 2011 it touched them so deeply. Then we met a woman in a cafe who turned out to be a Medium and who said she could see a man standing behind me, a man who was insistent, urgently pulling a poppy up and down in his breast pocket, wanting me to know. She had no way of knowing anything about my writings or my book. But she described his dress, his uniform. And then later, Tony, my partner, smelled smoke, tobacco smoke, in the room where we sat. He says it was there suddenly, and lingered, before it was gone.

I have had such happenings before in my life. I believe. I know they are close, and in the spirit world, watching over us.

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