Her Last Betrayal: New Release from Pam Lecky

Today is Publication Day!

Initially, I hesitated to write a story set during World War 2, unsure what I could bring to it that would be unique. And then it dawned on me that few had written about the war from a neutral Irish perspective. Luckily, all I had to do was delve into my family and local history and Her Secret War, the first novel in the Sarah Gillespie Series, was the result.

Essentially, the stories in the series are about spies and fifth columnists, a subject covered in some depth by Tim Tate in his book, Hitler’s British Traitors. This was the source for much of my background information and threw up a few plot ideas too (always a bonus!). [Buy Link: Hitler’s British Traitors]

Betty Lecky, Birmingham, 1940s

My mother and her sisters left rural Ireland to work in Britain during WW2. One aunt followed her boyfriend, who had joined the RAF, and she worked in a munitions factory. Another aunt wanted to study nursing, and my mother was a ‘clippie’ (bus conductress) on the Birmingham buses. Neither book is their story, but there are glimpses of their experiences hidden throughout the fiction. The German attack on North Strand, which opens the first book, happened only a few miles from where I grew up. As a young child, I passed the bombed-out sites regularly, knowing nothing about them. I was in my late teens before I heard about the bombing and the relevant history.

Her Secret War by Pam Lecky

For me, the greatest challenge was getting up to speed on day-to-day life. I knew a lot about the overall timeline and events of the war, but it was the nitty-gritty details of life on the Homefront which would ground the stories in reality. Thankfully, there is an enormous amount of material out there, from eyewitness accounts and books to newsreels.

My heroine, Sarah Gillespie, is Irish, and the first novel in the series begins with the infamous bombing of neutral Dublin by the Luftwaffe in May 1941. The opening chapters take place during the bombing and its aftermath before the story moves to England. Like many Irish, Sarah has family living in the UK. They welcome her to their home when her own family is killed. Without giving away the plot, Sarah’s nationality leads to complications, and she is forced to decide where her loyalties lie. The complex relationship between the Irish and their ex-colonial masters interests me, and I explore it to some extent in both novels.

Her Last Betrayal by Pam Lecky

Her Last Betrayal continues Sarah’s story. She is now employed by MI5 and must work with a new colleague, a US Naval Intelligence officer, who is hostile and suspicious of her motives. There mission is to track down IRA members who are facilitating British fifth columnists and Abwehr agents entering and leaving the UK. Just as they appear to be making progress, one of the MI5 team is revealed to be a German mole. Their mission thrown into chaos, Sarah and Tony must learn to trust each other if they are to survive.

Again, I referenced Mr Tate’s excellent book only to find that the port used by the IRA was only alluded to as being in South Wales. I knew the UK National Archives document reference number, but the text in question was only available to view in person, not online. Due to Covid, I could not travel to Kew to look at it. So, in the meantime, I had to make an educated guess (Fishguard seemed likely as it connected Cork and neutral Lisbon at the time—a possible route).

As the deadline for finalising the book approached, however, I panicked and took a chance and messaged Mr Tate directly through social media. A few weeks later, he responded and emailed all the information I needed. But, as it transpired, the identity of the port used by the IRA for smuggling people in and out of the UK, remains a mystery. The document Mr Tate had seen only mentioned South Wales. And then the bombshell: the British Secret Service had destroyed the other file which identified the exact location. Although disappointed, at least I had an answer. And let’s be honest, a bit of mystery is music to the ears of a writer of espionage tales!

Her Secret War was published in October 2021 and is available in all good bookstores and online. Her Last Betrayal is published today, 14th April 2022 and is available in all good book stores and online. I am currently working on the third novel in the series, as yet unnamed.

Buy Link: Her Secret War

Buy Link: Her Last Betrayal

In Conversation with Mary Clancy

Today, I am delighted to host fellow Irish historical fiction author, Mary Clancy.

Pam thanks so much for inviting me to feature on your blog.

Mary Clancy

Let me tell you a little about myself. I live with my family in Co. Kildare just outside Naas, with Michael and two of our three sons. My youngest is eighteen, I don’t know where those years went to. I mustn’t forget to mention our treasured dog Coco who is still sprightly at the grand old age of fifteen.

I look forward to having my books in the book shops when I can have a real live launch. (Most important.)

Having retired from my job as a social worker, I took to writing, a hobby which I had enjoyed for much of my adult life. Being offered a three book deal from Poolbeg Press in 2020 was such a dream. And here I am.

In Conversation with Mary Clancy

The Telegram – a Short Story for Armistice Day

Ireland, 1914

Bill Ryan was my eldest brother. He was a popular lad with a ready smile, always up for mischief. At twelve years of age, I looked up to him and adored him, as did my younger brother David and little George who was only three. Our universe was a tiny part of County Meath; our world a small farmstead handed down for generations. Mother worked hard and although she was strict, she was a loving and kind-hearted woman. My father, however, was a hard man. Often aloof, his stern gaze was enough to put the fear of God into you.

When Bill finally plucked up the courage to broach the subject of signing-up, he met with strong resistance. But he persevered. We must defeat the Hun, he said to them, his voice resonating with conviction. As David and I listened from behind the door, my heart sang. How brave he was! But father refused to listen – Bill was needed on the farm and that was the end of the nonsense. Mother pleaded with Bill as only a mother can. But in the end, he presented them with a fait accompli, arriving home one day in uniform.

The Telegram – a Short Story for Armistice Day

It’s Publication Day for Her Secret War!

I am so thrilled to share the news that my new release is out in the world today. Her Secret War is the first of two books based around a young Irish girl, Sarah Gillespie. Sarah is the only one of her family to survive the North Strand bombing in May 1941 which kills 28 people and leaves hundreds homeless. Her plight resonates with the thousands who survived similar incidences throughout the war, all over the world. From the ruins of her life, Sarah must make some difficult decisions. Like many Irish, she has family in Britain and when they hold out the offer of a new life and a job, Sarah decides to leave Ireland. Unfortunately, her new life slowly falls apart as her family history catches up with her, and she is drawn into the dark world of WW2 espionage.

It’s Publication Day for Her Secret War!

The Night the Luftwaffe Paid a Visit to Dublin

Eighty years ago, a German pilot dropped four bombs on neutral Dublin City

Ireland was still recovering from the War of Independence from Britain and the Irish Civil War, when WW2 broke out in Europe. The government at the time, led by Eamonn de Valera, declared Ireland was a neutral country. Ireland had neither the manpower nor the resources to become involved in the conflict. Relations with Britain were already strained and Ireland’s stance made Churchill furious.

Belfast Blitz

Ireland’s neutrality, however, was tilted slightly in favour of the Allies. Downed RAF pilots were quietly escorted to the border with Northern Ireland, while their German counterparts were interned at the Curragh Camp for the duration of the conflict. Perhaps more significantly, the Irish government sent fire crews to Belfast, during the Blitz in April 1941, to help put out the raging fires and dig out the bodies. Immediately after, many Northern Irish refugees made their way to Dublin where they were warmly welcomed.

I grew up a few kilometres from the suburb of North Strand on the north side of Dublin City. As a teenager, I was astonished to discover I lived so close to the spot where a Luftwaffe pilot dropped bombs in the early hours of 31st May 1941. The events of that Whit weekend, echoed the Blitz of Belfast only weeks before, and the bombing of cities such as Liverpool and London, and indeed, many other cities throughout Europe. A taste of the Blitz must have shaken Ireland to its core.


The Night the Luftwaffe Paid a Visit to Dublin

New Release from Renny deGroot

I am delighted that Renny has dropped by to tell us about her new release, Torn Asunder. Renny, what inspired your story?

As an author of Historical Fiction, I’m fascinated by the human perception of historical events. For example, each of us have family stories of events that took place before our birth and handed down to us. These spoken stories become a part of us, and the details may or may not fit exactly with other stories of the same events and yet we absorb and take for truth those that have been given to us by people we love and trust. While all cultures and families have these stories, in my opinion, no culture does this better than the Irish (and I don’t have a drop of Irish blood coursing through my veins). Dating back to ancient times an Irish story-teller (or a Seanchaí ) was the keeper of the community history, and the tradition of story-telling falls naturally in an Irish family.

My new novel, Torn Asunder draws on this tradition when the main character chooses to fight for the Cause with his pen (ie as a journalist) rather than a rifle. His challenge is his lack of awareness of the power of his words.

Fiercely loyal, Emmet Ryan plays his part in the war against the British to see a free and united Ireland. As a 16-year-old boy, Emmet is thrilled to join his father and brothers in the Finglas Volunteers during the 1916 Easter rebellion. The effects of that week mark Emmet for the rest of his life as he wrestles between his allegiance to his country and loyalty to his family. At times he isn’t sure he’s given enough to the fight until the day he realizes he may have given too much.

The story of Ireland’s birth as a modern nation and her turbulent formative years is woven into the very fabric of this multi-generational family drama.

http://mybook.to/TornAsunder

In the Library with Irish Author Susie Murphy @susiemwrites

This evening in the Library we have ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Susie Murphy, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into her life as a debut author.

Susie MurphyYou are very welcome, Susie, particularly as you are a fellow Irish historical fiction author. Please introduce yourself: 

I have been writing stories since I was eleven years old so publishing my first novel this week is a dream come true for me! My book, A Class Apart, is the first volume in my six-part series A Matter of Class.

Did you read much as a child? Are you an avid reader now? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?

I have a vivid memory of me at age seven climbing a stairs and going through big double doors into a library in Waterford. The awe that I felt in that moment was when my love of books began. I was a voracious reader in those early days (a lot of Enid Blyton and Ann M. Martin), and my mother says my most common phrase at the time was ‘I finished the book’. That carried on through my teens (I read The Lord of the Rings twice in a row in the few months running up to my Junior Cert state exams…), but college was my period of drought – I read a grand total of two books in three years. Since then, however, I am never without a book. My Kindle goes everywhere with me in my bag and I always have an audiobook in the car.

While historical fiction is my favourite genre, I do enjoy a lot of fantasy and young adult books too. I’m open to reading anything but love stories are my hook. So if the book has even a small romantic storyline you’ll have me invested in it, no matter what genre it is.

 Are you self-published or traditionally published?

I am a self-published author. I did make attempts to go down the traditional publishing route and received my fair share of rejections, all of which I value because I used the feedback to make my book better. Over time, self-publishing became the more appealing option to me as I love the idea of having full control over my book. I get the final say on the edit and cover design and promotion, and that’s very appealing to me.

Which genre do you write in and why?

I write historical fiction set in the 1800s. I find the past a truly captivating place to escape to. I especially love  the 19th century because it’s near enough to modern times to be somewhat relatable and yet is still so different to the way we live now. The customs of the time fascinate me – I adore the idea of writing a letter with a quill, stepping into a horse-drawn carriage to go to a ball, marking the name of a dashing gentleman on a dance card. Don’t get me wrong, I have no illusions about the hardships of the era! Of course there were many inequalities and poor conditions, particularly for the lower classes. But I do love to daydream…

Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?

Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series. I just discovered her books in the last three years and can only wonder how I ever survived before that. Remember how I said I’m hooked by love stories? Well, I believe Outlander is the greatest love story out there. I really admire Gabaldon for the way she tells such a gripping tale, and evokes the time period with amazing detail, and makes a reader feel like they will burst if they don’t read on. I have learned so much from her about characterisation and structure and historical settings. Reading her books made me realise that I had been writing my own series in a little bubble. Outlander showed me the scale of historical fiction and gave me the encouragement to expand my series beyond the limited boundaries I had originally set for it. And Gabaldon’s writing style is exactly the kind I like – while I can’t emulate it, I can strive to make my own better because of it.

Has your country of origin/culture influenced your writing?

I’m from Ireland and my book is set in Ireland, so yes! The 19th century was a turbulent time in Irish history and I felt it served as the perfect backdrop to the story I wanted to write. They say ‘write what you know’ – I obviously haven’t lived in the 1800s, but I studied Irish history in school, and I learned how to speak Irish, and I know what it feels like to walk around my grandparents’ old Irish cottage and smell a peat fire, and those kinds of things were definitely helpful in crafting my story.

What part of the writing process do you find most difficult? How do you overcome it?

Writing without editing. When I’m drafting brand new sections, I itch to read back as I go along to make sure what I’ve written is making sense and properly punctuated. But that’s the best way to blunder to a halt and never make any forward progress. I have to just put the head down and remind myself that I can edit later. Oh, but what did I say three paragraphs ago— edit later. Oh, but just one quick look— edit LATER.

Do you have a favourite time of day to write?

I gain a certain satisfaction from writing first thing in the morning and achieving some small goal while still in my pyjamas! Then the day is off to a good start. However, I have also had some special writing sessions burning the midnight oil, when only myself and my characters are awake.

What is the best thing about being an author? And the flipside – what is the worst?

The best thing is having a reader react positively to what I’ve written, whether it’s a blog post, a short story or a novel. It makes me so happy to know I’ve accomplished something that has resonated with someone else.

The worst thing is the crippling self-doubt. Who am I to think I can write anything? But getting the type of reaction above is the boost that encourages me to keep going.

Is social media an essential chore or something you enjoy? Which forum do you prefer?

I recognise social media as an essential aspect of being an author in this day and age, but I don’t view it as a chore. I think it’s a privilege to get so close to other authors and readers in what was once quite an isolated occupation. I do wish I was better at it though! I agonise over every post and tweet before I hit send. Of all the forums, I enjoy Twitter the most as a place to discover interesting links, read entertaining tweets, and interact with lovely people!

If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?

As my writing career is only just taking off, I still work by day as a piano teacher. One of the nicest parts of my job is walking down the school corridors and hearing music coming from every room (even if there’s still some scope for improvement…!).

For years I have devoted all my free time to developing my writing, but if I wasn’t doing that I think I’d like to join a choir for fun. I’m no opera singer but I can hold a tune and love to sing harmonies. I’ve been in choirs in school and college and there’s a great joy in hearing the different vocal parts combine to make one beautiful sound.

It’s the last day and the earth is facing oblivion – what book would you read?

 Just one? A cruel question, if ever I heard one! I have always had a huge affection for Watership Down by Richard Adams as it was my favourite book to read as a child. Although I think I would probably get some strange looks to have my nose in a book while it’s raining fire from the sky.

Please tell us about your debut novel: 

A Class Apart, is available in both ebook and paperback from July 10th. Set in Ireland in 1828, it’s the first book in my six-part historical fiction series A Matter of Class. The series follows heiress Bridget and stable hand Cormac who are on opposite sides of the class divide – and because of that, society says they shouldn’t fall in love. Keep an eye out for the second volume, A Class Entwined, coming in 2019!

Buy Link: Amazon UK

 

Thank you very much for having me today, Pam!

I am sure we would all like to wish Susie the very best of luck with her debut release tomorrow and her future writing career. It was a pleasure to chat to her this evening.

If you would like to know about Susie and her work, please check out the links below:

The O’Donovan Saga: Tales of 19th Century Ireland & America

One of the greatest joys for me since stepping into the publishing world, has been the opportunity to meet and befriend fellow authors, particularly those who write historical fiction. So I am delighted this evening to host Irish-American author, Patricia Hopper Patteson. Earlier this year, Patricia and I met for the first time, face-to-face, on one of her trips home to Dublin. I also had the opportunity to attend Patricia’s Irish book launch for Corrib Red. The O’Donovan Saga: Tales of 19th Century Ireland & America

A Conversation in the Library with Author Nicola Cassidy

Thanks so much to fellow writer Pam O'Shea for comingOnly a few weeks’ ago, I had the pleasure of attending the launch of December Girl, the debut novel of fellow Irish historical fiction author, Nicola Cassidy. I’m a few chapters in and really loving this story. It grabs your attention straight away – I read the first chapter with my heart pounding!

Nicola has found some time in her very busy life to come along and  join me in the library this evening to share some insights into her life as an author. A Conversation in the Library with Author Nicola Cassidy

A Conversation with Lorna Peel

This evening in the Library, I am delighted to welcome, Lorna Peel­­­­­­, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into her life as an author.

You are very welcome Lorna, please introduce yourself:

lorna-peelThank you for inviting me into the Library and interviewing me, Pam. I am an author of historical romance and romantic suspense novels set in the UK and Ireland. I was born in England and lived in North Wales until my family moved to Ireland to become farmers, which is a book in itself! I live in rural Ireland, where I write, research my family history, and grow fruit and vegetables. I also keep chickens and a Guinea Hen called Gertrude who now thinks she’s a chicken!

Did you read much as a child? Are you an avid reader now? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?

Yes, I read a lot as a child – and I mean a LOT! My favourite author was Enid Blyton. I devoured everything she wrote and I remember saving up all my pocket money so I could buy the books from The Famous Five series at W.H. Smiths. They were 50p at the time!

I don’t read quite as much now as I simply don’t have the time. When I do read, I like to take a break from the genres I write in, so it’s mostly historical fiction, especially Sharon Penman (I’m working my way through her Richard The Lionheart novels at the moment) and C.J. Sansom’s Matthew Shardlake series.

Are you self-published or traditionally published?

Both. I have four novels with indie publishers and my two most recent novels are self-published.

Which genre do you write in and why?

I write historical romance and romantic suspense novels. I love writing romance but I don’t write insta-love. I prefer to write about relationships which develop over time, so I send my heroes and heroines on a journey in search of their happy ever after. As well as that, I’ve always had an interest in history and genealogy and I’m lucky that I have very varied ancestors – I’m of Irish, Dutch, Welsh, German and Scottish descent – so I like to combine romance with history and/or genealogy in my novels with plenty of suspenseful twists and turns to keep everyone on their toes!

Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?

A teacher (inadvertently) and myself and my own stubbornness. I was never encouraged to write imaginative essays at school and one teacher even refused to read or mark any of their class’ imaginative essays. I wasn’t going to allow that teacher to discourage me from even trying to write, but it wasn’t until I left school that I began writing and I’ve been writing ever since.

Has your country of origin/culture influenced your writing?

The city of Dublin plays a large part in my family history so I’ve always wanted to write some novels set there. My paternal ancestors were from Dublin and I’ve done a lot of research on the family tree as well as research into the areas where they lived and also into what they did for a living. I’ve also lived in Dublin, so having all that work done and being able to visualise streets and buildings and know how long it takes to walk from A to B was a great help to me when I sat down to write A Scarlet Woman. I still had to undertake a great deal of research for the novel but the groundwork was already complete.

What part of the writing process do you find most difficult? How do you overcome it?

The difficult part is finding the time to actually sit down and write something, especially in Summer. Summer is so short in Ireland (if we get one at all!) that I’m outside in the vegetable garden as much as possible or cleaning out the henhouse, whether I’m in the humour for it or not! To keep on top of my writing, and so that I continue to produce new novels, I now edit during the Summer months and write during Winter. 

Do you have a favourite time of day to write?

I used to write very late at night as I’m a night owl. More recently, it’s been in the afternoon (when possible) and in the evening. I must be getting old!

What is the best thing about being an author? And the flipside – what is the worst?

The best thing is when someone you don’t know tells you they enjoyed reading your novel(s). That makes all the hard work worthwhile. The worst is promotion. It has to be done, but I’d rather be writing.

Is social media an essential chore or something you enjoy? Which forum do you prefer?

I do find social media an essential chore. I don’t like Facebook, it’s far too Big Brother-like IMO, but I need a Facebook Author Page. I much prefer Twitter as tweets are short and to the point (for now!) and, so far, Twitter doesn’t restrict who can see them.

I recently joined Instagram, but my favourite social media platform is Pinterest. I can spend hours there. I have boards for all my novels, one board with some great old photos of Dublin (which was an enormous help to me in writing A Scarlet Woman) and many more, including my favourite TV series, films, music etc. 

If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?

Something involving historical research. I love research! I’m a research nerd!

It’s the last day and the earth is facing oblivion – what book would you read?

If the earth is facing imminent oblivion, I don’t think I would be reading! I would be saying goodbye to family and friends instead. But if I was stuck on a desert island, my books of choice would be Sharon Penman’s Welsh Princes Trilogy – Here Be Dragons, Falls The Shadow and The Reckoning. I was brought up in North Wales so I’ve either been to or know of the places mentioned in the novels.

Please tell us about your latest published work.

A Scarlet Woman by Lorna Peel eBook CoverMy latest novel is an historical romance called A Scarlet Woman and it is the first in The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Series. A Scarlet Woman is set in Dublin, Ireland in 1880 and tells the story of Will Fitzgerald, an idealistic young doctor and Isobel Stevens, a fallen woman.

Will left his father’s prosperous medical practice to live and practise medicine in the poorer Liberties area of Dublin because he was tired of treating rich hypochondriacs and he wanted to do some good elsewhere. His parents were appalled and his fiancée broke off their engagement and married a rich barrister instead. So, when the novel opens, Will is nursing a broken heart and is expecting to be a poor, lonely bachelor doctor for the rest of his life. But when Will reluctantly spends a night in a brothel on the eve of his best friend’s wedding, little does he know that the disgraced young woman he meets there will alter the course of his life.

Isobel Stevens is the daughter of a cruel and vindictive clergyman from Co. Galway who ruled his family with an iron fist. Isobel was well educated and her father hoped to secure a good marriage for her but she was seduced and deserted by a neighbour’s son, leaving her viewed by society as a fallen woman through no fault of her own. Isobel’s father threw her out, so she travelled to Dublin and fell into prostitution, doing what she must to survive. On the advice of a handsome young doctor, Isobel leaves the brothel and finds work as a parlourmaid in a house on Merrion Square. Isobel never expected to see Will again, but their paths cross and their lives become intertwined and they find themselves falling in love. But is Will and Isobel’s love strong enough to flout convention and challenge the expectations of Victorian society?

A Scarlet Woman: The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Book One is out now on Kindle, in paperback and on Kindle Unlimited.  Buy Link: Purchase on Amazon

If you would like to know  more about Lorna and her work please check out her links below:

http://lornapeel.com

http://plus.google.com/+LornaPeel

https://www.instagram.com/lornapeelauthor

http://www.facebook.com/LornaPeelAuthor

http://www.goodreads.com/LornaPeel

http://author.to/LornaPeel