This is a downloaded image from my research into the first months of World War Two in France, showing that, dreadful as the whole war was, the British soldiers still found reasons to laugh.
I am on the last stretch of my major rewrite of Helter-Skelter, after which I can take a month off with a clear conscience to visit my family in UK and Canada. When I return to it at the end of October I shall print the whole thing off, read it, and edit anew.
These final chapters are the ones that entailed the most research, as they are set in France and Belgium in early 1940. There is a dearth of information about the Phoney War in the first months of 1940. In a way this is good because there are fewer details to get wrong, but it also means that I did a lot of guessing.
Now that I want to weave in another thread, I am having to refresh my memory about why I sent Albie to a particular place on that exact date (what a good thing I kept the relevant parts of my research!) and there was an unexpected bonus.
I revisited one of my former research sites and clicked on a hitherto un-noticed soldier's diary of the very place and time I wrote about. He mentioned a real incident I had already imagined two years ago, which proves I managed to get into the mind of my soldier. I can re-flesh the bones of my story knowing that the underlying structure is sound.
The moral of this is - never bin your notes!


  1. How interesting that you managed to make up a real event!

  2. I love it when research backs up the story you've already thought of - it saves major rewriting.

  3. I've learnt to become very organised with my research and backing things up. There's nothing worse than knowing you have read something somewhere that is integral to your plot only to find you can't remember where you got it from and can't find it in your notes.

  4. Hel - you are so right! And even if you put exactly the same question into Google they've switched things round since you were last there!

  5. Amazing that a real event similar to the one you made up actually happened - spooky!

    Totally agree with keeping all the notes. Need to find a better way to organise them at the moment. Working on it!


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