Today, it is my pleasure to begin the Blog Tour for The Other Side Of The Street By Helen Carey. I have a great Q&A, which Helen gracefully agreed to answer, and I hope it will allow you to get to know Helen Carey better. I am currently out of the country, but as soon as I am back, I will post my review of this book.
About the author: Helen Carey was born in Oxford and lived in London for many years. Before she began writing she had a range of jobs, including tour guide, army officer and management consultant. Her Lavender Road novels were inspired by a chance encounter with a neighbour who showed her the sites of the air-raid shelters on Clapham Common. She now lives in Wales with her husband and their two dogs.
To find out more about Helen Carey and her books, visit her website http://www.helencareybooks.co.uk, find her on Facebook/helencareybooks or follow her on Twitter @helencareybooks.
Q&A With Helen Carey
Me: What inspired you to write The Other Side of The Street?
Helen: The Other Side of the Street is the fifth novel in my wartime Lavender Road series. But the books don’t necessarily have to be read in order, because although the same cast of characters are there throughout, I choose different people to be the main characters in each book. This time it was the turn of Louise Rutherford, the daughter of the posh, pompous local brewer. Louise is pretty and somewhat spoiled, and likes to get her own way. I already had in mind that it would be interesting to create a plot that put her in some kind of difficult situation, and then through my research I discovered a top secret military project to intercept the V1 rockets that were devastating London in 1944. The handsome American colonel in charge offered good incentives for young women to work on the project. (I knew Louise would jump at the chance to get away from her strict, disciplinarian father.) But security was such that everyone involved had to be in the military. What could be better than forcing Louise to join the strict, disciplinarian women’s army, the ATS?
Me: How do you normally do your research for the books?
Helen: First of all I research the real history both international and local. That involves reading history books and diaries, visiting museums and local history libraries, and lots of online research too. I like to weave my story through real events, so I need to make sure that I get my facts right. I am also always on the lookout for snippets of interesting or unusual information. Once I have decided on my story then I research the various elements in more depth. If I can find someone who experienced the things I’m writing about or who has expert knowledge then that’s even better. Being able to ask questions is so much better than reading a book or finding something online. I was particularly lucky with The Other Side of the Street as I discovered that an elderly neighbour of ours had served in the ATS during the war and she was a mine of brilliant information.
Me: Why did you choose 1944 as the year to set the book?
Helen: Each of the Lavender Road books cover roughly one year of the Second World War. The previous book in the series, London Calling, finished on Christmas Day 1943 and I wanted to save 1945 for the last book in the series. So 1944 it was. As it turned out, 1944 was a particularly interesting year to write about. Allied forces were fighting their way up through Italy. There was renewed bombing of London. Then, as talk of invasion of mainland Europe began, Ireland was blockaded because of fears that plans would leak through diplomatic channels to the Nazis, and a travel ban was put in place. As troops of all nationalities prepared for an assault on France, incidents came to light of serious racism and anti-Semitism. Then there was all the drama of D-Day. And then, almost as soon as the troops landed in France, Hitler’s vicious V1 rockets began hitting London.
Me: If The Other Side of the Street were to be a film, which actors would be playing the main characters?
Helen: That’s a nice question, because a lot of people say that the Lavender Road series should be turned into a film, or more likely a TV series. If so, this would be my dream cast!
Louise Rutherford – Emilia Clarke
Jen Carter – Gemma Arterton
Henry Keller – Tom Hiddleston
Colonel Westwood – Armie Hammer
Me: Where do you write your books? (In bed/the garden/a coffee shop…?)
Helen: I write on an amazingly beautiful circular table at the back of our sitting room. The table was brought back from India by my great-great-grandfather. When the Antiques Roadshow visited Pembroke Castle last year they featured it (and me) and told me that it was made in Bombay in 1850. From the window behind the table, I can see out over Cardigan Bay. It is a beautiful view, albeit somewhat distracting; recently I saw a pod of dolphins jumping and that was the end of my writing for a day!
Me: What was your favourite scene to write and why?
Helen: My favourite scene in The Other Side of the Street is just after a V1 rocket strikes Lavender Road. Several of the characters get buried in the rubble and it is touch-and-go who comes out alive.
Me: What genre books do you like to read and why?
Helen: I am a big reader and I like all kinds of books. While I am writing my own books I try to steer clear of historical fiction and tend to read thrillers instead. Maybe that’s why I like to include some exciting scenes and dangerous moments in my own books.
Me: What are you really good at?
Helen: I think I am good at creating stories and characters that make people want to read on until the end. I quite often get messages from readers complaining that they are tired after reading late into the night because they were so desperate to know what happened next!
Me: What do you struggle with all the time?
Helen: My biggest struggle is switching off while I am writing a book. I always have the story in my head and that makes it hard to concentrate on real life! Luckily I have a very understanding husband.
Me: What makes you happy and why?
Helen: My husband and my dog make me happy. An elevenses of coffee and a kit-kat. Writing a scene that turns out just as I wanted it to. And getting lovely messages from happy readers!
Thank You very much, Helen, for answering all the questions and I can’t wait for the next book. 🙂
About the book:
The Publisher: Headline
Genre: Historical Fiction
Published in paperback: 30 11 2017
Price*:Kindle £3.99 (GBP)/ Paperback £6.99 (GBP)
Kindle $5.36 (USD)/ Paperback $7.74 (USD)
Pages: ~ 544
You can get this book here:
Description of the book: It’s 1944. Londoners are weary of air raids and rationing. But now, with rumours of an invasion of France, the tide of war seems to be turning. In Lavender Road, however, everyone still has challenges to face.
Young widow Louise Rutherford longs to make a new life for herself. When a glamorous American officer arrives at her factory to recruit volunteers for a secret project, she senses an opportunity, only to find her efforts hampered by ten-year-old war orphan, George Nelson.
Jen Carter’s relationship with theatrical producer Henry Keller hits a hurdle when an old flame reappears. And when V1 retaliation rockets start hitting London, her mother Joyce’s tentative romance is threatened too.
Will the war finally wear down the women of Lavender Road, or can love thrive even in the toughest of times?
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Other books in A Lavender Road series
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