Age is Just a Number!

When I set out to write The Revenge of Tirpitz I didn’t really analyse too closely my target age range. I set out to write a tense, gripping thriller and hoped it would have mass appeal. Mmmmm – there’s nothing like optimism. But there comes a point when you have to make a decision – particularly when you are pitching to publishers and agents. So I initially thought Young Adults: late teens perhaps?  Early feedback from a publisher who took a look at a draft suggested that perhaps a younger audience would be more appropriate….around 9- 12. So I focussed in and when Cranachan signed me, we mutually agreed that this market would be ideal for schools. The Revenge of Tirpitz tied in nicely with class projects on WW2.  But you know, when it comes to the bit, you just never know who might be drawn to your book…..

I’ve had several emails now from the over 50s, male market who have stumbled upon my book in libraries or online and have really enjoyed it! Whooopeee!!! How fantastic!  I’ve posted up a comment I received on my blog below and it’s really got me thinking. Perhaps I’ve been too narrow in limiting my marketing to youngsters?  It reminds me of the Maurice Sendak quote: “I don’t write for children. I write, and somebody says, ‘that’s for children.'”  Idealistic perhaps? But at the end of the day, a good read is a good read…..and I like to believe, we’re all young at heart.

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Bonnie Baby at Christmas!

“It’s Christmas Day!” the bairns all shriek.
Our Bonnie Baby takes a peek
To see his stocking filled with sweets and toys.

A teddy, a train, some coins, a cracker,
A Santa in a shiny wrapper –
He’s chocolate! Bonnie Baby has a lick.

He rips and bites, grips Santa tight.
The chocolate melts – we thought it might!

Och no! Our bonnie baby’s in a state!

He’s sticky, claggie, clarty too,
Head to toe in chocolatey goo!
The tastiest Christmas baby in Dundee.

 

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The night before….

It’s been a funny old week. I’ve just moved house. I am surrounded by boxes and chaos. I can’t find anything. I’ve had so many heated discussions with call centres organising gas/electricity you name it, my head is fit to burst. The dog has barely been walked and is pinging around like a loon. And in the midst of all this….my book is out tomorrow. I just want to tell you about it. Not the plot. Not the themes. Just about how I wrote it. It took me two years. It was my escape from domesticity, my secret focus to daydream about while I washed dishes, cleaned, in between my little boy’s nap times and doing the school run. I wrote it because I had just been rejected for the gazzilionth time; I had failed to be shortlisted for everything. I sobbed in my bedroom and told my husband I was utterly disappointed with myself. But I kept writing. And researching. And writing. It’s out tomorrow. I hope you like it. M xx

Gold!

Do you remember back in the day when you went to the library, you could explore back issues of newspapers with one of those microfiche readers?  And it made you feel as though you were an investigative journalist in a film….?  Or was that just me? Well anyway, recreate that moment by following this link. Go on. Indulge me.

https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1301&dat=19831011&id=lIZWAAAAIBAJ&sjid=0eYDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6871,4645498&hl=en

Find anything interesting?

Yes…..?

 

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The article about Nazi gold in a Norwegian cave is rather exciting isn’t it? I thought so too…. A good spy story needs some gold or treasure doesn’t it?  And perhaps,  Tirpitz herself would have been a good hiding place for Nazi loot. Until such time as she became a very real target. Then, the gold might have to be moved. To a cave perhaps?   And what if someone saw it being hidden. And knew, after all these years, that it existed…and was out there still, buried in a Norwegian fjord cave. Now that could be very exciting…..

The Art of Simple Sabotage!

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My husband knows me very well. On a trip to London some time ago, when I was in the midst of research, he visited the Imperial War Museum.

IMG_0306.jpgNot only did he take photographs for me of a Norwegian Resistance radio (above)  and various other secret agent gadgets, he bought me one of the best presents I could have hoped for: a book called, ‘The Secret Agent’s Pocket Manual’.  What could be better when you’re trying to write about clandestine activities during WW2?

I got a lot of practical advice from this corking wee book, particularly from the chapter entitled: ‘Simple Sabotage Field Manual, 1944’. Sabotage, it would seem is on a spectrum. From the art of everyday sabotage – opportunisitc, subtle, ‘the human element’ causing delays, accidents and ‘general obstruction’ right up to highly planned physical acts of mass destruction.

‘Simple sabotage does not require specially prepared tools or equipment; it is executed by an ordinary citizen – who may or may not act individually and without the necessity for active connection with an organised group; and it is carried out in such a way as to incolve a minimum danger or injury, detection, and reprisal.’

Sabotage, it emerged, was to become a major theme in ‘The Revenge of Tirpitz’.

 

The Shetland Bus

Up until I read the book by David Howarth, I’m ashamed to say, I’d never heard of ‘The Shetland Bus’. But the very name caught my interest.  And reading about the bravery and commitment of those selfless souls who manned simple fishing boats  during WW2 – sailing in perilous conditions from Shetland to Norway and back was compelling.

 

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I began to explore further life in occupied Norway; it was quite simply a time of fear and survival.  The underground work of the Resistance was crucial to the cause and so the Shetland Bus became a life line. Missions involved transporting radios, ammunition, agents and there was even a failed attempt to destroy Tirpitz. Boats were under constant fear of discovery and attack. These were extraordinary times and required extraordinary bravery.

Here’s a link to a fantastic website to give you more information:

http://shetlandbus.com

David Howarth’s book is a wonderful insight into the story of The Shetland Bus operations. And for a further tale of survival, Howarth’s follow-up book, ‘We Die Alone’, is simply incredible.

 

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But I knew now, that the story of Tirpitz, and the Shetland Bus could somehow come together in my book. That perhaps, the German radar operator who ensured the destruction of Tirpitz escaped. According to the documentary, ‘The Dambusters’ Great Escape’, this was entirely feasible if he had already been involved in helping the Resistance.  And then I began to wonder if, perhaps….he could have escaped to Shetland?

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About two years ago now I watched a documentary on Channel 4 called: The Dambusters’ Great Escape. It was utterly compelling and well worth a look. The programme explored how, finally, the great Nazi warship was destroyed.  Here’s a link to a clip – take a look.

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-dambusters-great-escape-secret-history/videos/all/the-dambusters-great-escape-secret-history-clip-1/4400504205001

I found it fascinating to watch these men relive their experiences. And I began to wonder if   they suffered any sense of guilt or remorse. That maybe they did but they never discussed it? Because after all, they had simply been doing their job? I also started to think about how I might have viewed these men  before I watched the documentary had I seen them in my daily life. Would I have just seen ‘old men’ and not really considered the person behind the ageing facade?

But what really caught my attention was the story of a Norwegian man called Sander Pettersen. Sander, as a youngster, had worked in a German radar station during WW2 when Norway was under Nazi occupation. Here, he met a German officer whom Sander was certain helped bring about the destruction of Tirpitz – by witholding key information about the approaching British Lancaster bombers. What convinced him the German was working against his own people? A small silk Union Jack flag….hidden in his cigarette case. Now this really got me thinking…….

The Launch Of Bonnie Baby!

Last Saturday was the launch of ‘The Fourth Bonniest Baby in Dundee’! We had a great turnout at Waterstones Dundee and it was amazing meeting illustrator Kasia Matyajaszek for the first time. The Bonnie Baby puppet made his first appearance and we all sang the ‘Fourth Bonniest Baby in Dundee’ song. There was even a surprise….’the lady judge’ from the original Bonnie Baby Competition in Broughty Ferry appeared! What a hoot! Here are some pictures…..

 

 

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The Big Reveal!

Well it’s an exciting day today as the publisher of my forthcoming historical fiction novel for children, Cranachan, have revealed the fab front cover! I hope you like it!  I think it looks really dramatic and exciting….hopefully like the book itself!

Three words to quicken the pulse…..Tirpitz is coming!

 

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Coming soon!

Hi all! Welcome to my blog. At the moment I’m in the midst of editing and waiting! My picture book ‘The Fourth Bonniest Baby in Dundee’ is due to be properly announced by publisher Floris (Picture Kelpies) anytime and I’m working hard on editing my first historical fiction novel for children, ‘The Revenge of Tirpitz’ (published by Cranachan). I’ll be able to tell you more about both books very soon……