Apparently, every hopeful author should have an “elevator pitch” for those moments when they find themselves stuck in a lift with a major publisher. Here is mine.
My working title was Rendezvous with Death (after a lovely poem by Alan Seegar, 1888-1916) but I later changed this to The White Lady, which references the recurring motive of owls (sometimes know as les dames blanches in French) and the code name for the resistance network in occupied France in the Great War.
The White Lady is a romantic thriller set in the First World War.
The story opens in the summer of 1913 and concludes two years later. It is set mainly in London and Paris and the occupied territories of northern France. The main themes are the bravery of women, the burden of duty borne by men, and the pain – and ultimate redemption – of love and loss.
It tells the story of Charlotte, a militant suffragette, who has a profound encounter with a mysterious man only for him to walk away the next morning. She finds love elsewhere but her world is shattered by the outbreak of war. Charlotte is recruited for espionage work in occupied France where her resilience and courage are tested to their limits – until fate once more intervenes.
Although based on careful research the story carries this learning lightly. There is a strong sense of time and place and the plot moves along quickly with memorable characters, sparkling dialogue, and quite a lot of sex. Passionate, intelligent, and beautifully written escapism!
Note added January 2018
I am now writing a very dirty first draft of another story. Same era, fast forward to the Spring Offensives of 1918 and we meet VAD nurse Hope, competent, outwardly calm and rather conventional – that is, until the day she goes walking alone through the sand dunes and falls over Kit, an attractive and unstable RAF pilot grounded following accusations of cowardice. Needless to say, Hope’s behaviour soon becomes somewhat unconventional.
My working title for this book is Soldiers from the Wars Returning (note plural), taken from a poem called Soldier from the Wars Returning by AE Housman and referencing the focus of my story on post-war lives. (Soldier from the Wars Returning is also the title of an excellent Great War memoir by Charles Carrington plus at least one other book concerning the subsequent wars.)