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 is Rendezvous with Death (after a lovely poem by Alan Seegar, 1888-1916) but I may change this for something less melodramatic. [PS added January 2018: title changed to The White Lady for submission – but I’m still not entirely happy.]
Rendezvous is a romantic thriller set in the First World War. (Gone with the Wind for the Great War, perhaps?)
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 duty imposed by men, and the pain 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 in-depth 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, beautifully written escapism!
[Another PS added January 2018: To distract myself from the pain of casting my firstborn adrift on the murky waters of Agentdom, 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 almost falls over Kit, an attractive and unstable RAF pilot grounded following accusations of cowardice. Needless to say, Hope’s behaviour soon becomes somewhat unconventional.]