Writers have secrets.
Even when we don’t want them to, those secrets sneak into our stories. Subtle at first, a moment in your heroine’s life that mirrors something awful you lived through. You shiver. How’d that get in there? Oh-oh, it’s flashback time. I’m not going there again… am I?
You dismiss it at first, then you fixate on those moments. They fester, begging for attention. Like the scar covering an old wound, it’s always there to remind you.
That’s what happened to me when I was working on Sisters at War.
My two worlds collided head-on—my writing world with my past.
When I look back on my life, it’s been a wild ride. I traveled a lot, lived in different places, had crazy jobs, but I kept going and never spoke about what happened to me because you just didn’t.
I was sexually assaulted.
And I was ashamed.
When I saw the same thing happening to women in the Ukraine (rape by Russian soldiers), it hit me in the gut. I asked myself, why don’t things ever change? Why must women always be victims? Would they, if women spoke up? Told their stories? Should I tell my stories?
No, I said. People will judge me. Let it be. It’s over. Done.
Me back in the day…
Then when I was researching WW2, I came across the horrible sexual violence the Nazis did to women prisoners (I decided to concentrate on the emotional wounds instead). Then I discovered something that infuriated me. At the Nuremberg Trials, they kept out rape victims’ testimony because, and I quote, they didn’t ‘want a bunch of crying women in the courtroom’.
I was livid.
That’s when it became clear to me I had to write Sisters at War no holds barred. And I did. It’s raw in places, gut-wrenching, emotional, but in the end it’s a story about love, courage, and redemption.
I told the story of women assaulted during WW2 through the eyes of two sisters. Meet the Beaufort Sisters in Occupied Paris. Eve and Justine. They were once painted by a famous artist when they were fourteen and sixteen. The painting became known as ‘The Daisy Sisters’; then in August 1940, the SS stormed their home and stole the painting.
And one of the sisters.
The story continues with how each sister copes with the aftermath of sexual violence, how it affects her part in the war, and the men in their lives who stand by them.
The early reviews have been amazing:
‘A must read for anyone’
‘Hard hitting and heart breaking’
‘An absolutely gripping, powerful story’
Then a question popped up from more than one reviewer: Will there be a sequel? Yes!
I’m writing book 2 now about the Beaufort Sisters and continuing their story through the war and afterward. I admit, I’m petrified writing the sequel, praying I can make it as exciting and inspiring as ‘Sisters at War’.
Well, there you have it. My secrets are out in the open. I recounted what happened to me in the Acknowledgements of Sisters of War so readers will know the words of my heroine, her emotions, guilt, shame, and choices come from a real place. Along with the healing that still goes on. My editor said my acknowledgements were the bravest she’d ever read. Brave? I don’t know. Emotional, truthful. A cleansing. It was time.
I hope readers give my story a chance. I hope you give my story a chance.
Thank you for listening.
Who are the Beaufort Sisters?
They’re at war with the Nazis… and each other.
Summer travel means waiting in airports or to catch a ferry across the channel… or waiting in a busy train station. Plenty of time to write a quick postcard and send it home.
No, wait. Send a selfie back home on your phone with a quick text. Fast, fun, but will it end up in a box of memories?
The memory lost…
Yes, times have changed. We still waiti n airports or train stations, but the fine art of writing a travel postcard someone will cherish are gone. That personal touch of scrawled handwriting… a quick moment in time captured forever, a tangible memory of a card sent from Paris with the distnictive handwriting we know so well…
Remember when you got a travel postcard from a faraway place? It was like magic
Imagine receiving a handwritten postcard from Paris in 1940. Intrigue, romance, and spies…
Paris is my #BoldDestinations for this summer’s celebration of places where we set our books like The Orphans of Berlin and the Kindertransport from Berlin to Paris.
Exciting news on SISTERS AT WAR!
A story of two sisters caught up in the side of war few talk about…
A very special story that looks at sexual abuse during wartime… and how it affects two sisters in Paris.
SIGNED PAPERBACK COMPETITION
Win a signed paperback copy of my upcoming book #SistersAtWar!
Competition ends 25th September! T&Cs: http://bit.ly/boldwoodtcs
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/BoldwoodBooks/status/1677724331772637185
If there’s one thing we writers never have enough of…
Words we got… thousands.
Coffee… by the potful.
Comfy bunny slippers… on automatic re-order from Amazon.
That’s as elusive as the instant bestseller.
I’m on autopilot this week until whenever to get it all together and bring my next Paris WW2 novel home for my publisher Boldwood Books. Amazing company. They take good care of their authors… fabulous marketing team… I love my editor, Isobel… and the company has won several ‘Best Publisher’ awards in the UK and is up for more awards this year.
And my fellow authors are like family to me.
But in the end, it’s up to me to write the damn book.
Sweat, tears… blood. Yes, I changed the order because I sweat the small stuff like commas and the big stuff like research which turns into major tears when I realize writing never gets easier but tougher (you demand more of yourself)… and blood because if you don’t bleed onto the page, you’re not giving it your all.
So, mes amis, tonight is the night we turn the clocks forward and lose the hour.
But guess what. I’ve decided to do something about it.
I’m going to type twice as fast for a solid hour (accuracy is another story) and write twice as many words and–
I’ve got my hour back… at least for tonight.
Well, that’s another day.
Some great book news:
The trade paperback of my Paris WW2 novel THE LOST GIRL OF PARIS
is coming to THE WORKS stores in the UK… so check it out if you’re in the United Kingdom.
Listen to an excerpt in the video below…
My heroine, Angeline de Cadieux, is a Roma girl in WW2 Paris… she’s strong, fights in the Resistance… makes exquisite perfumes and comes up with an amazing marketing campaign during the war to boost morale in France.
Thanks for listening… and now back to our regularly scheduled craziness.
No, this isn’t a trick question.
It’s the challenge we ladies of the pen all face in our social media, digital, crazy, mad, mad world…
The answer is: BOTH.
The writer is me in total chaos working on an insanely difficult book about rape in France during World War II with a deadline looming. My office is a mess, I’m a mess… the manuscript, thank God, is NOT a mess but it’s not finished yet. Weaving such a trauma against the backdrop of the Nazi Occupation is the most gut-wrenching task I’ve ever faced. It’s taken me a while to get a handle on the story of two sisters and how the rape of one of them affects them both.
That’s the writer me.
Now for the author me.
That’s the me writing this post because this is my chance every month to reach out to you guys and let you know what’s going on in my world. It’s how we present ourselves to the book world and at times is as just as trying and difficult as the writer me.
Hence, my TikTok confession.
I hope you enjoy my video showing me in my office drowning in research material… oh, Lord.
And now for some good stuff, if I may.
My WW2 story THE ORPHANS OF BERLIN is now FREE to read in PRIME on Amazon
THE OPRHANS OF BERLIN
Meet the Landau Sisters barely surviving in Nazi Germany… and Kay Alexander, the amazing debutante from Philadelphia who will stop at nothing to save them from the Nazis in 1939 Berlin…
And of course, there’s a British pilot hero to die for…
Paris, they say,
when it rains—
now I know.
our feet, as you
and I, our arms
inhale the scent
of old arguments
Nothing in between
of our own
by the summer
whiffs of rosemary
drenched in the ardor
Previously published in The Poetic Bond V by Willowdown Books, U.K, in 2016
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