Evie's War is my first historic novel, but not my last. Once I began reading and researching, I knew that this was a period of history that would not easily let me go. The Western Front became my area of focus, partly because in New Zealand it tends to be sidelined, with greater emphasis being placed on the bungled Gallipoli campaign – even though Flanders and the Somme saw significantly more suffering, greater losses, and just as much mismanagement as the eight month campaign in the Dardenelles.
The war isn't done with me yet and I've been back to Europe's killing grounds many times. Even 100 plus years on, these fields and hills and graveyards pull at my heart.
Here are a few images of my research trips to Flanders and the Somme.
"They offered up the innocence of a generation..."
I wrote this as a strapline for Evie's War, but ultimately it was used on the back cover and in publicity for the book.
It still strikes me as perfectly, poignantly apt – though perhaps what was lost was the innocence of several generations and, all too often, far more than their innocence. The First World War shaped and continues to shape all our lives. As we mark it's centenary, I'm heartened to see us looking back and continuing to build our understanding of what was done, and not done.
There are more stories from these fraught years that I would like to tell, not only that we might continue to remember, but that we might continue to try to find a way forward.
Evie's story is mostly focused on the Western Front, but inevitably she is aware of news from other areas – reactions in New Zealand, for example, and news reports of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia. For a potted summary of the key events that impact on her, take a look at my WWI Timeline.