When I was looking at the map of where the torch is today, the place names fascinated me. There’s Stamford Bridge, only not the Chelsea FC one – and a Richmond, far from Surrey. Then there’s a Melbourne, seemingly on the wrong side of the world. There’s Haworth, which makes me think of the Brontes, Aysgarth, which is synonymous in my mind with follies and Thirsk, which dear old Ray Moore used to say was a terrible desire for vodka.
One of the key places on today’s leg is Harrogate, the location for one of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries. I love war cemeteries, especially the ones from WWI and from the D-Day landings.
Stonefall, like many other such places, has some special stories to tell, and some special lives to commemorate – like the five airman from Canada and the US who died when their Halifax hit a railway bridge. How did they end up over here? What happened to their plane? Who did they leave behind? Did any of their loved ones ever come over and visit their memorial?
These places (and books of reminisecences of people who were there at the time) are a constant inspiration for me and – so far – I’ve written three stories set around WWI. I can’t help but write about those times. All Lessons Learned was ‘born’, at least as an idea, as soon as Lessons in Love was written, as I knew the boys would go to war. This Ground which was Secured (from Home Fires Burning) followed hard on its heels, but still WWI wasn’t written out of my system. So Promises Made Under Fire (out next year) came about, because every new book I read about those times suggests new stories…