Regular visitors to my blog may remember the wonderful author interview that I had with Leah Fleming last year. Leah has very kindly agreed to visit 'The Secret Writer' again today, to talk to us about her latest novel 'The Girl Under The Olive Tree' and other things about her writing!
A very warm welcome to you Leah, and can I thank you once again, for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us today.
It’s lovely to be back here again, Calum.
Can you briefly bring us up to date with what you have been writing since you last visited ‘The Secret Writer’?
I am busy meeting my deadline for a new novel called: 'The Postcard' which will be out next year. Only half way through so far... and looking forward to the publication of 'The Girl Under The Olive Tree' in paperback in June.
Your latest novel ‘The Girl Under the Olive Tree’ is receiving terrific reviews. Can you tell us a bit about the background to the development of this particular story?
When I found out about the History of Crete during WW2 on a visit to the island and visited the Commonwealth War Graves at Suda Bay Chania, I was overwhelmed by the sadness of the bitter campaign and what occupation cost the local population. Then I discovered how the Jewish community was decimated and has never recovered. I knew I just had to tell their story too as best I could.
When you are writing a novel, how do you place yourself into the time period that you are actually writing about?
I visited all the sites where action happened, talked with local people ( through interpreter friends) Went to every Museum in the area: The Naval Museum. Archive Office, Museum of Resistance looking at old pictures. I found a great documentary film called “On the Eleventh Day” a re-construction of the battle using grandchildren of original fighters, walked through beaches and caves, anything to feel the past.
For those who are interested in writing, can you briefly share with us how you go about creating the characters within a book and the development of the conversations that they have within a story?
I was lucky in this book to have a real nurse and survivors to base my story on but they become utterly changed when you give them another name and persona. I don’t write about real people as such. I find the characters appear of their own accord surprising me sometimes as I haven’t planned their appearance and I just listen to what they have to say to me. It’s always a relief to find the story has got its own mind where it is going. I just wait and see where it leads me and who’s waiting there.
Can you give us a hint about any other books that you may have in the making at the moment?
The book I’m writing will takes us from Australia to Scotland, France in the WW1 , Cairo and then into WW2 Belgium I think...but you never know. It might have other ideas.
Leah, I have been absolutely delighted that you have visited my blog again. It is very much appreciated!
Release date: 17th January 2013
Published by: Simon and Schuster Ltd
ISBN No: 978 0857204042
May 1941 and the island of Crete is invaded by paratroopers from the air. After a lengthy fight, thousands of British and Commonwealth soldiers are forced to take to the hills or become escaping POWs, sheltered by the Cretan villagers.
Sixty years later, Lois West and her young son, Alex, invite feisty Great Aunt Pen to a special eighty-fifth birthday celebration on Crete, knowing she has not been back there since the war. Penelope George - formerly Giorgidiou - is reluctant to go but is persuaded by the fact it is the 60th anniversary of the Battle. It is time for her to return and make the journey she never thought she'd dare to.
On the outward voyage from Athens, she relives her experiences in the city from her early years as a trainee nurse to those last dark days stranded on the island, the last female foreigner. When word spreads of her visit, and old Cretan friends and family come to greet her, Lois and Alex are caught up in her epic pilgrimage and the journey which leads her to a reunion with the friend she thought she had lost forever - and the truth behind a secret buried deep in the past...
If you would like to find out more about Leah and her writing, you can visit her website by clicking on the following link: http://www.leahfleming.co.uk