I’ve always been fascinated by the First World War. One hundred years on, it still resonates as the moment the world was dragged into the modern age. I’m not going to linger on the futility or horror of it now, but part of its fascination rests with the fact that it was when humanity teetered on the brink of the old and the new. Sadly, what brought it into the new was destructive in the extreme, but I am left with an abiding feeling of people, young men in particular, stepping back from it after with their eyes wide open, staring in bewilderment, not only at the horror they experienced, but that they are suddenly in such a different place.
I suppose this is the sort of situation I was exploring in my book, Out of the Storm. It deals with a man, scarred by the war, who is struggling to come to terms with life after the conflict. He has shut himself away, and it takes a very modern young woman to reawaken him.
It has a Jane Eyre/Rebecca feel to it: set in a gloomy, mysterious school on the moors in a world struggling to find its feet.
Out of the Storm is available now for 77p or similar from Amazon, Xcite Books and all good online retailers.
And a little extract:
He glowered at her furiously. ‘How dare you confront me with this, today of all days?’
‘Why should another day make any difference? What’s so special about today?’
His face grew so pale she feared a sudden illness had struck him.
‘Because today is the anniversary.’ Before her eyes, he seemed to shrink into the memory of his dead comrades. His voice was barely audible. ‘Six years ago today … only death.’
Miriam felt her heart drop from her. What a fool she was. A fool to confront him. He was right. She understood nothing.
‘I’m sorry.’ She hung her head. ‘I didn’t know. I presumed too much. It won’t happen again.’
She longed to ease his suffering, but she had dared too much, had imposed herself. And he was in too much pain.
With her soul heaving, she turned away. But before she could take a step, he grasped her wrist and pulled her round so hard that she jolted against him. The air was pushed from her and the length of her body forced against his. She stared up into him. Her hand had come to rest on his bare chest. It was so hot. So hard and smooth and hot. She glanced down and opened her fingers upon him. She could feel his heart thudding relentlessly inside. He gripped her yet stronger, hurting her slight wrist, but she didn’t mind, barely noticed. She stroked, just the tips of her fingers smoothing over him, imparting herself into him and him into her.