Call to Arms – call for more!

by anthology editor Heloise Mezen

I’m delighted to say that I have received from their authors the first two stories of the Call to Arms anthology; the stories have been accepted and sent back to the authors with editing suggestions, and I’m eagerly awaiting them back again to send out to the proof-reader.

‘Proof-reader?’ I hear you saying. ‘When the deadline isn’t until May?’ Which is true, of course, but I am sure you’ll understand that nobody wants to deal with a spate of stories all at once;  a gentle flow is far more manageable!

So, if you have an idea for Call to Arms, stand not upon the order of its writing, but write now! Send it soon! I really am happy to receive stories whenever before the deadline they may happen to arrive.

Or, do you want to write a story, but are so far without an idea? I have read a fair amount round World War 2, so perhaps I may make an observation here: it really was a world war, and stories from all round the world could form part of the collection. For those of us in the UK it’s easy to think of it as a Western European struggle, and to forget that the Balkans (again) and Russia (again) were involved: civilians and fighters from Africa, Australia, Burma, the Caribbean, China, India, Japan … many places to choose from, and many sorts of people, whether refugees, evacuees, soldiers, sailors, airmen and women, prisoners of war or simply people trying to live their lives in unimaginable circumstances.

And here, just because I can, is a story.

I was with my father about a month ago, driving round North Norfolk looking for a World War One training camp (a long story, to do with my job) and Dad started reminiscing. Not about 1939-1945, when he was an evacuee (his mother with Civil Defence and his father with the Army), but about his National Service in the 1950s, when he was posted to Catterick on the North York Moors (which has been a military base since the Romans called it Cataractonium, and later when it may have been where the British called Catraeth). He and his platoon were out fire-fighting, because the moors are peat moors, and Dad remembered rather enjoying himself in the sunshine. Then he asked what my WWI trainee served as, and when I said “RAMC” he chuckled.

‘What’s so funny?’ I asked.

‘The RAMC had a little caravan up here, and they ran a brothel from it.’

I didn’t ask him whether he’d taken advantage …

Have you a story for Call to Arms? Or do you have an idea, and want to know if it’s suitable? See the call for submissions – and do feel free to contact heloise@manifoldpress.co.uk and talk it over.

How I made do and mended

An author guest blog by Adam Fitzroy

The book that eventually became MAKE DO AND MEND started out very differently. It was originally going to be about four brothers, living on a not-entirely-successful family farm in Wales, fighting off a land-grab from a consortium that wanted to build a golf-course – and it was emphatically going to be taking place in the ‘present day’. However some elements of the story were in place even then; there would be conflict between the two elder brothers because Two was a nasty resentful piece of work and would undermine everything One was attempting to do, but Three and Four would turn out to be – perhaps to their own astonishment – good and sensible men who could be relied on in a crisis. There would also be a mysterious stranger to the village, a quiet, dignified older man, who would draw the attention of the hitherto flighty One and with whom he would eventually form a romantic relationship. Two and Three would be firmly heterosexual; Four’s preferences were still unknown.

I hadn’t written any of this before the plan changed dramatically. I’d been thinking about it and discussing it with friends for some considerable time, but there was something about it that just wasn’t gelling in my head. I don’t know, now, precisely what it was that prompted the change of direction, but one day it suddenly occurred to me that setting it during the Second World War would make it a more interesting project and radically change the dynamics of the situation. For one thing, there was huge pressure to produce food and other necessities for the war effort (flax, wood, etc.) so that even a farm that was struggling beforehand would enjoy a period of relative prosperity. For another, it would enable One to have a perspective on life and love that didn’t just revolve around the narrow confines of his familiar Welsh valley.

The valley itself was one of the constants. Being a regular traveller on trains between Newport and Chester, I’d always been intrigued by a village north of Abergavenny. There ought to be a station there, I thought, so that I could get out and explore – but there wasn’t. So I did my initial exploring online and on the OS map, and eventually managed to tour the area by car as well. I found the perfect site for the house, which ended up being called Hendra, but what was there was less prepossessing than I had in mind. Therefore, in a move I’m sure English Heritage would deplore, I picked up Stokesay Castle, made some alterations to its layout, and transported it a little matter of fifty miles down the road. I tacked on a somewhat rickety Home Farm a short distance away, and a couple of quarrymen’s cottages higher up the hill, and that was that – I had my location!

The joy of writing something like this is the research. Wanting a box-bed for Jim’s cottage I found just the thing online, which turned out to be in a rural museum on Orkney. Years later I got to meet it in person … and that was the trip which ended up inspiring IN DEEP. I also managed to fit in a visit to Western Approaches Command and chose one of its mysterious closed doors to be Harry’s decoding office. (I have no idea what was really behind it; it could have been a store-room or a doorway into Hades for all I know!) When I decided to make Jim a conscientious objector – because I’ve never forgotten the Dad’s Army episode in which Godfrey is revealed to be a conscientious objector – I researched the Peace Pledge Union, their white poppies, and the advocacy work they did. I hope that if I was ever in the position of being ordered to fight (unlikely now, given my age!) I would have the courage not simply to do as I was told but to say that I thought it was wrong and find another way of serving instead.

I could go on. The hotel in Liverpool exists, and has been the scene of numerous fannish conventions. The pub where Harry lodges sort-of exists; there is a pub there, but I transported a building in from another location because I liked it better. The road over Sermon Pass is a real road now, but at the time the book is set it was little more than a track. And as for Birkenhead Park … it’s a jewel, and was reputedly the model for Central Park in New York.

There are, of course, loose ends in MAKE DO AND MEND. Jack (Three) will stay at Hendra, married to Kitty, and their children will farm there in their turn. Thomas (Two) is likely to move away after the War, to some place where his predictable lack of success will be less visible to his family and he can be the person of importance he so clearly thinks he is. Harry (One) will emigrate, Jim at his side, to a country where nobody will care who they were before – possibly Canada. Jim will write books and teach; Harry will no doubt go into broadcasting in some capacity. They won’t be rich, but they’ll be happy. As for Freddie (Four), his future is more opaque; there is, somewhere in the back of my mind, a whole new set of adventures for him – one of which I’m hoping will coalesce into a short story for Manifold Press’s World War Two anthology CALL TO ARMS. In fact it would be fair to say that I have no idea, at the moment, precisely what happens to Freddie, but I’m very much looking forward to finding out!

[Oh, and the land-grabby golf-course-builders may well make an appearance at some point, too… ]

It’s “Read an Ebook Week” on Smashwords!

Smashwords are celebrating Read an Ebook Week from 5 to 11 March 2017 – and what that means for readers is deep discounts on awesome titles!

Manifold Press is participating, with all of our titles, backlist and new, discounted by 25%. (The only exception is our charity anthology, A Pride of Poppies.) Now is the time to stock up that TBR pile, and maybe try some new stories you’ve been pondering.

Browse the Manifold Press catalogue on Smashwords – or browse the full catalogue of all the discounted ebooks across the site. We’re 100% sure you’ll find something to love!

Dorian Dawes and the Foreboding Universe of Harbinger Island

There’s a stunning in-depth interview between Dorian Dawes and reporter Josh Valley over at Fourculture; if there’s anything you’d like to know about the inspirations for the characters in HARBINGER ISLAND or about Dorian’s future plans, you should head on over there as quickly as possible – highly recommended!

New review of ARDENT

We’re very happy to find another very positive review of ARDENT by Heloise West, this one from Lisa at The Novel Approach.

… I was so eager to take on Heloise West’s Ardent. It’s not only set in a time not often covered in historical romantic fiction but is set in the Italian art community of the 15th century, incorporating a forbidden love story with murder and intrigue, and doing so beautifully.

Thank you, Lisa, and we’re delighted that you enjoyed Heloise’s story as much as we do!

New reviews of UNDER LEADEN SKIES, ELEVENTH HOUR

Two recent reviews by Stevie over at The Good, The Bad and the Unread have just reached us, and they’re both wonderful – as, indeed, are the books!

Of Sandra Lindsey’s UNDER LEADEN SKIES, the reviewer has this to say:

“I loved this book, both for the story told within it and for the style in which it is told – addressing the reader throughout, as Teddy passes his story on to an individual whose identity only becomes clear at the very end. There’s a lot of scope for sequels – and possibly a prequel about Teddy’s grandfather here – so I hope this isn’t the only visit we pay to the characters and their world.”

And Stevie’s response to Elin Gregory’s ELEVENTH HOUR was equally enthusiastic:

“I loved this book. All the characters felt very real, even those who make only brief appearances, and there are plenty of back stories connecting various of them to each other that I would love to read more about. Miles’ butler and his theatrical friend deserve their own book too. Highly recommended.”

I think we can safely call that a vote in favour of two sequels and/or spinoff titles, then!  Thank you for your comments, Stevie – and we totally agree with you; we would love to see more of the adventures of these characters, too!

 

Another review of ARDENT

We were delighted to see a new review of Heloise West’s novel ARDENT from fellow ‘history nerd’ Diane on the Hearts on Fire Reviews site.

… the story was very well written and the whole plot was so well crafted. These are great main and supporting characters, and of course the culture of the village and city play parts in this too. The book has a great pace and really gets hard to put down once all the cards seem to be in play, which is when the author introduces the twists!

Thank you, Diane! We’re very happy that you enjoyed this intriguing tale as much as we did.

Elin Gregory offers the comfy chair to Dorian Dawes

The unutterably charming Elin Gregory (author of the selling-like-hot-cakes ELEVENTH HOUR) has kindly let Dorian Dawes sit in the comfy chair. You can read the resulting conversation on her blog via the following link:

Thank you so much, Elin, for your support and all your insights!

Charlie Cochrane interviews Dorian Dawes, Jay Lewis Taylor and Heloise West

The inimitable Charlie Cochrane is a great friend of Manifold Press, and unstintingly supportive of our team members. She has interviewed the authors of the three recent new titles, and you can find the interviews on Dreamwidth via the following links:

Thank you so much, Charlie, for offering us space on your blog and asking such fascinating questions!