The Ambulance Girls by Deborah Burrows / Blog Tour + Extra

I seem to be reading only historical novels lately, guys, but I also have this luck that the books are really great representatives of the genre. Today “The ambulance Girls” by Deborah Burrows blog tour stops with me and I have an extract for you – it’s just a foretaste, sounding so very promising and I am sure you’re going to enjoy the book whole – heartedly!

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CHAPTER SIX

I woke to a cold morning. Damp white mist swirled around the gardens and the sun was like a great orange ball. It was nearly winter, I realised disconsolately. It would be my second winter in England, and I was not looking forward to it at all. It was the darkness that had affected me the most last year. I expected that I would find it as miserable this year also, with the added bonus of nightly air raids. I couldn’t help sighing. It was springtime in Perth now and my mother’s roses would be in full bloom in our small garden.

On the table in the lobby, next to the cubicle that housed the building’s telephone, were the letters that had been delivered for the occupants of St Andrew’s in yesterday’s second post. There were three letters for me, all from Australia. The flimsy aerograms were creased and a little grubby after their long journey. One was my mother’s weekly epistle. I recognised Uncle Charles’s scrawl on the second, and when I turned the third letter over, it was from a school friend. I was delighted at this tangible connection to home, but I sighed as I tucked the letters carefully into the pocket of my jacket; I would read them once I had breakfasted.

I had been away from Australia now for nearly three years, and I missed my family terribly. After so many letters, I knew what my mother’s would contain: she would tell me that my father and my brother Ben were well, give me a small anecdote about each, and then concentrate on her ‘war work’. Mum had formed a local Red Cross branch as soon as war was declared and now spent most of her time rolling bandages, packing parcels for Australian prisoners of war and helping to run funding drives for Blitz victims, in between knitting scarves and jumpers for servicemen. From her letters, it seemed my mother was the same tiny ball of energy as she had been when she waved goodbye to me at Fremantle Dock on that hot January morning in 1938.

My father hated writing letters, but I knew he would have scrawled a message of love at the bottom of my mother’s epistle, telling me that he missed me and longed to see my beautiful smiling face. He always wrote the same message, and it always made me cry. If I were lucky, my brother Ben, now fifteen and about as fond of letter writing as Dad was, would also have written me a short note.

I was well aware that my parents were desperate for me to return home, but they never pushed. Sometimes I wished I could leave London and sail back to Australia, but I knew the work I did in London was worthwhile and essential, and I had made up my mind not to leave until the war was over, no matter how many cold, dark winters I had to endure.

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The English Agent by Clare Harvey /Blog Tour + Guest Post

I am thrilled to be a part of Clare Harvey’s blog tour today! The author’s new release, “The English Agent” is out in paperback now and to celebrate this fact I have a lovely guest post from Clare herself! Enjoy!

The glamorous life? Five secrets about Clare’s life as an author that she probably 97814711505792b252812529shouldn’t tell you…

 

When I got published I think people expected me to sling on my stilettoes, hop in a convertible and head off for the glamorous life. Some of the school run mums might even have raised a quizzical eyebrow at the sight of me still trudging round Tesco in my mud-spattered dog walking boots and then driving off in my unwashed Vauxhall Corsa. But whilst earning a living as a writer definitely counts as ‘living the dream’, glamorous it ain’t. Here are five secrets about my life as an author that debunk the glamour myth (and that I probably shouldn’t be sharing!)

Talking to myself: Yes, I talk to myself. Whilst I was writing my debut novel The Gunner clares-furry-paGirl, I even found myself having conversations (‘D’you fancy a cuppa, Clare?’ ‘Oooh, yes, thank you, Clare, a cup of coffee would be lovely!’ etc.) Writing is a largely hermit-like existence, so I suppose talking to myself became inevitable. Eventually we got a dog, and I now talk to him instead (which is not mad at all, ask any dog lover). Oh, and I talk to my characters, too, especially when I want to discover their back stories – I interview them and get them to tell me all about themselves (I’m not sure if other writers do this, too – it would be interesting to find out). So that’s number one: talking to myself and/or my dog – not glamorous at all, as I’m sure you’d agree.

Family meals consisting of chips and chocolate biscuits: When I’m pushing myself to hit a deadline I do not have time to be a domestic drudge, let alone a domestic goddess. I resent the time it takes to go to the supermarket (or even do an online shop) or plan and cook a nutritious family meal, when I have those final few scenes to do before the weekend. I tell the kids to make sure they take full advantage of their school dinner that day because ‘…it will only be a snack supper tonight’ – which roughly translates as ‘….you can forget Nigella Lawson; the only woman in my kitchen today is Mother Hubbard, so deal with it, guys.’ Number two, then: chips and choccy bics for supper – glamorous? I think not.

Wearing a coat, hat and scarf at work: It seems an outrageous extravagance to put the central heating on if it’s just me at home. Sometimes I have vague thoughts about lighting the log burner, but it’s a bit of a pfaff, and I really just want to get on with writing, usually (the log burner is a good idea if I’m feeling the need to procrastinate, though). Being a southerner, I’m a bit of a wuss in the cold weather, too. So I often work in my coat, hat and scarf (in fact, as I write this I’m wearing a scarf and a woolly hat – no coat today as the weather is ‘unseasonably mild’, according to the weatherman). Number three on the list of unglamorous author things: freezing at your desk in your entire outdoor wardrobe.

Working’ in bed: Sometimes I work in bed because I’m cold (I take my coat off first – but I often leave the hat and scarf on). And if it’s a freezing winter day and I have some research books to read, why not read in bed? But I also find writing comes easier in bed, perhaps because I have left my ‘internal editor’ behind with the laptop at the desk downstairs (I always write longhand in the first instance). But sometimes I like to prepare a scene and then take a little power nap before writing it, because I find that writing flows so much better if you’ve just woken up. It’s just getting a tad embarrassing that the window cleaners always seem to come when I’m working in bed, and I’m so worried they think I’m a slacker that at the first rattle of ladders I leap up and run down to the desk again. Which isn’t exactly glamorous, either.

Sleeping in my clothes: I have only done this once. Oh, all right, twice. Here’s why: I was desperate to get the final draft of my work-in-progress finished by the school holidays, so I’d been up really late getting through it. By the time I’d cleaned my teeth, etc. it was already past one in the morning, and really cold. I remember thinking that I would have to take all my clothes off, get into my pyjamas and probably a jumper, too (my husband works away during the week, so I do tend to pile on the nightclothes without him next to me to keep me warm) and bed socks, and all the while the clock was ticking on, and I knew that I’d have to be up in a few hours to walk the kids to the tram stop in the freezing cold and…Yes, I went to bed fully clothed, and wore the same clothes the following morning. But it was only the once (well, twice, if I’m strictly honest). So there’s my final secret – I have slept in my clothes. Now, do you think I lead a glamorous life? No, me neither. But don’t breathe a word!

 

My new book The English Agent is out now in hardback, paperback and e-book. You can catch up with me and find out more here:

Twitter: @ClareHarveyauth

Facebook: ClareHarvey13

Web: http://clareharvey.net

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