Today I’m delighted to welcome my friend Sue Barnard back to the Bingergread Cottage – she’s already been here in person! So – tell us about your new book, Sue.
This year marks the hundredth anniversary of the start of the First World War – the one which at the time was called “The War To End Wars.” Sadly that title proved to be horribly and tragically inaccurate; many more wars have found their way into the history books during the ninety-odd years since the Armistice was declared in November 1918.
One such war took place in the Spring and early Summer of 1982. This was the Falklands War between Britain and Argentina, fought over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic, and it forms a distant backdrop for my novel Nice Girls Don’t.
What prompted you to write it?
Like Emily, the heroine of the story, I was too young to remember the Second World War, but I was brought up by people who did; my parents’ and grandparents’ generations had lived through one (or in some cases two) major conflicts, the second of which claimed many civilian as well as military casualties. But the Falklands War was the first occasion in my lifetime when my home country had actively gone to war. And, just like Emily, I was confused and bewildered. Would this war, like those before it, involve conscription and mass-slaughter? What effect would it have on the day-to-day lives of ordinary people?
This led, in turn, to my thinking back to the other major conflicts of the twentieth century, to the effect they had on those who fought and on those who served by standing and waiting – and to the long shadows which they could still cast over future generations. What if, when researching one’s family history, one discovers secrets which, because of those wars, have been kept hidden for many years due to shame and guilt?
Can you put it in a genre or does it defy classification?
Nice Girls Don’t is perhaps best described as cross-genre. Yes, it’s a romance, but it has a generous helping of mystery and intrigue thrown in for good measure, and some aspects of the story have a darker, grittier side – one which will, I hope, make the reader stop and think. It also holds up a mirror to the circumstances, ideas and attitudes of the period – and in so doing challenges a few traditionally-held views. There are some long-established issues where, on both a global and a personal level, attitudes and expectations have failed to be fair to both sides. In Nice Girls Don’t I have tried, at least in part, to redress that balance.
I hope the book will appeal to anyone who remembers the 1980s, but I hope also that it will show younger readers (of both genders) how much has changed – hopefully for the better – over the course of a generation.
Sounds fantastic. Can’t wait – so here are the links to find Sue’s work.