My guest today on the blog is saga writer, Sylvia Broady. Sylvia and I attend the same Romantic Novelists’ Association chapter meetings, but we actually met some time before I started going to them, when we both participated in a social media for authors’ course in York. Sylvia was so friendly and approachable from the moment I met her, and she always makes me laugh when I see her, so I’m really pleased she’s joining me on the blog today to chat about books. Welcome, Sylvia.
Thank you Sharon, for inviting me onto your blog.
You’re very welcome. Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself?
Writing is my passion. I breathe it daily and dream about it at night. For me, writing is like a bright shining star. Each point of the star is an aspect of my imagination for me to explore, create, and write.
I write historical sagas set in the 20th century, though I have written other periods and contemporary. Mainly set in Kingston upon Hull and East Yorkshire, both having a rich tapestry of history, through my characters’ often travel the globe.
An avid reader, I enjoy discussions with friends over a meal and a glass of wine. My garden is a relaxing joy, and I love to absorb myself in researching social history. Family time is a pleasure and so precious to me. I have family nearby and family in Australia, who I travel to see often.
Thank you for that. So can you tell us what’s the first book you remember reading or owning?
The Adventures of Rupert the Bear, which I treasured. I would be about 4 years old, a lonely evacuee when my Pop came to visit me, bringing a gift of this book to my delight. Rupert and I went on many adventures together.
Aw, that’s so sweet, and a bit sad. I’m glad you had Rupert to see you through what must have been a really tough time. I went through a mad Rupert phase when I was little, and my brother was obsessed with him! Do you have a favourite among the books you have written?
I love all of my books and as I write, I become so absorbed that I become the main characters, living their lives. However, The House by the Mere is my favourite. My only contemporary, so far, was short-listed for the RNA Romance Awards. The Celebration Lunch was at the Savoy Hotel in London, held in the Lancaster Room, a splendid ballroom. I was also fortunate to win a place at the RNA Conference, The Royal Holloway College, Egham, Surrey, which was the first women’s college built.
Oh, well done! I like the sound of The House by the Mere. Lunch at the Savoy sounds very grand. Do you read any genres apart from the one/s you write?
Yes, I love reading thrillers. I am reading The Black Bird by Tim Weaver. All his books are about missing people and are intriguing and enthralling. I am a fan of the books by the Bronte sisters, my favourite is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I enjoy books on local social history, especially about strong women. My latest find is Extraordinary Women of Beverley.
Now that does sound interesting! Jane Eyre is possibly my favourite book. Do you prefer hardback, paperback, e-book, audio, or don’t you have a preference?
Audio book is my favourite because I can listen to it when I am cooking or doing chores, and when I am travelling. I love to read in bed and find that a paperback suits me.
Audio books are becoming so popular. Do you read series or do you prefer standalone?
When I first read this question my instinct was to say I prefer standalone, which I like. However, on reflection I did love to read series and I recall two which I enjoyed. The first series was called Jalna, The Whiteoak Family, a series written by Mazo de la Roche, a Canadian writer. The second was The Morland Dynasty series written by Cynthia Harrod Eagles and set mainly in Yorkshire. I would love to read them all again.
Have you ever preferred a film or TV version to the original book?
The Ghost, by Robert Harris, a book I read and discussed with my book group. The film was true to the book, except for a slightly different ending. Unlike Once in a Lifetime by Danielle Steel. I loved this book, but the film was a great disappointment.
What’s your latest book about, Sylvia?
ORPHANS OF WAR is set during WW2, in Kingston upon Hull and the East Riding, though it travels to war zones in France.
Charlotte Kirby herself became a war orphan during a bombing raid. She goes to live in Mornington with her aunt and uncle and works in their inn to earn her keep. French orphans, traumatised by what they have witnessed in their homeland, come to live in the manor house and Charlotte volunteers to care for them, having some understanding of how they feel. Free French soldiers are billeted in the village and training for a major mission—D Day Landing.
Charlotte meets an officer, Emile Delmas and they fall in love. He goes off to battle in his homeland. Can their love survive the separation of not know if he will return?
Charlotte takes care of Emile’s young daughter, Juliette, who has suffered the terrible massacres of her villagers in France. The villagers of Mornington are a close-knit community and welcome the children, helping them to settle in. Finally, the war ends and everyone celebrates, but what will happen to the French orphans now? Hopefully, to be reunited with their families. But have their families survived?
Survival is a word constantly on Charlotte’s mind as she thinks of Emile. Then one day, much to the children’s delight, a snowman arrives. Emile is very ill and Charlotte cares for him. Juliette, only a young child when she last saw her father, doesn’t recognise him. Time helps to burr the edges of sadness, and gradually, the scars of war fade. With Charlotte’s help, Juliette and Emile spend time together and they rekindle their bond of father and daughter. Charlotte and Emile also renew their love and marry. They buy a farm and live there with their children, Juliette, and Lucie, Maurice and Jacques, orphans of war.
I like to end my stories on a positive note of hope for the future.
Sounds fascinating, Sylvia. So what’s next for you?
A trilogy. I have written the first book in the series, EVIE’S STORY, and it is now with my agent. Quite by chance, I heard about a local World War 2 Gun site, preserved by a Heritage organisation, and that women were operational there. I went on an organised tour of the site with a very knowledgeable guide, fascinated and eager to research and learn more about these highly intelligent women who did everything but fire the guns. My story begins with three young women, aged 18, from different backgrounds, meeting on a train on their way to a training camp. They pass their tests and become Ack-Ack gun girls, trained to bring down the Luftwaffe. Evie meets an RAF pilot, Matt, and they fall in love. They live life on the edge, never knowing what the next day will bring. Sadly, Matt on a mission, is killed. Evie is pregnant. But who is the father of her child? Cast out by her parents, she has her baby in a home for unmarried mothers. Life is hard for Evie and her baby, but she is determined to change that. She has a plan, but can it succeed? Intrigued?
The second in the trilogy is LILY’S STORY. She marries an American soldier, a G.I. and sets sails to his homeland. But life in New York is so different from what she is led to believe. And her husband forgot to mention his daughter.
The third in the trilogy is GLORIA’S STORY. Abandon as a baby, and brought up in an orphanage. She transfers to a London gun site, and frequents the night clubs. After the war, she follows her dream is to be a singer. She finds it tough going until a woman appears on the scene, wanting to help her. But who is this woman?
They all sound amazing, Sylvia. Good luck with them all, and thanks so much for joining me on the blog today.
You can find out more about Sylvia and her books by visiting her website.
You can also follow her on Twitter.
Orphans of War (published by Joffe Books)
AN ABSOLUTELY HEARTBREAKING AND UPLIFTING WARTIME STORY OF HARDSHIP AND HOPE.
Kingston Upon Hull, 1941.
German bombs are raining down on the city. Racing to the nearest air-raid shelter, Charlotte hears an almighty explosion. Her mother’s haberdashery shop has taken a direct hit, reducing the shop to a pile of rubble — and killing her mother outright. Suddenly sixteen-year-old Charlotte is all alone in the world.
But then mysterious Aunt Hilda comes forward — an aunt Charlotte never knew she had — and offers her a home in the sleepy Yorkshire village of Mornington where she runs the local pub with her husband George.
Charlotte doesn’t mind helping out in the pub, but she can’t understand why her Aunt Hilda seems to resent her so. Nor why her mother never revealed she had a sister.
Everything changes when a group of French orphans are brought to live in the big house. Charlotte volunteers to help look after them — and finds a new purpose in life.
Then a band of Free French soldiers is billeted in the village, including a handsome young officer with the deepest brown eyes . . . But Emile has a tragedy in his past — and Charlotte must uncover both his and her own family’s secrets if they are to have a chance of happiness.
Fans of Nadine Dorries, Rosie Goodwin, Dilly Court, Freda Lightfoot, Anna Jacobs, Rosie Clarke, Tania Crosse, Dominic Luke, Sheila Riley, Lizzie Lane and Catherine Cookson will devour this emotional wartime saga.