During holiday season what can be better than finding a good book to read? One book I took on holiday with me to review, was ”Her Private War” by David Laws…
Based around the time of World War One, this novel tells the story of Charlotte Dovedale , a woman whose ambition was to be a pilot and fly for her country. But England at that time was on the verge of war, the suffragette movement was gaining momentum and Charlotte had to put up with prejudices and setbacks – from her own mother, her brother, the powers that be…. she had Scott though, who taught her to fly, had faith in her ability and, although Charlotte hated to admit it, he was rather handsome. Determined to fly, she takes on a photographer role in a frontline air base close to the French/Belgian border. Close enough to get to the planes and show her ability but will she get a chance?????????? You’ll just have to read the book to find out! I enjoyed the story, the era it was based in, the story twists were unbelievably subtle and you can tell a lot of research went into presenting a novel that truly reflected the mood of that time.
So, it is with great joy to welcome onto the blog this week the author, David Laws.
Hello! I’m a journalist turned thriller writer with five published novels, launching in 2018 with Munich The Man Who Said No! (Chamberlain controversy), went on to Exit Day (Brexitconspiracy) 2019 and then in 2020 The Fuhrer’s Orphans (rescuing children from the Nazis). The latest is Her Private War (exploits of a woman pilot in the First World War)
Who or what inspired you to research and write “Her Private War”?
Inspiration for my main character in Her Private War, Charlotte Dovedale, arose from a visit to the only remaining operational First World War aerodrome in this country – at a tiny Essex village called Stow Maries. They had female workers on site (in a hut separated from the rest!) and women are well represented on information displays. Stow is a wonderful resource for how things worked back then with lots of inspirational personal stories. Add in their own aircraft and hangars and other early aircraft that drop in on flying days.
I really enjoyed reading your book, “Her Private Book”. I haven’t read many books based during World War I Britain and nowadays it is easy to forget the struggles women had to be thought about seriously, especially when it came to jobs and their roles in wartime. I loved the character of Charlotte Dovedale! She was my absolute favourite! What character was the hardest to write? Who was the easiest? Did you base the mannerisms of the characters on people that you have come across in your research?
I enjoyed researching the character of Charlotte, her trials and tribulations, and when I’d got her, she appeared easily on the page. Of course, you have to remember women were actually banned from the air at that time, so my challenge was to find ways for her to break the embargo. The hardest person to write was the father of her best friend whom she idolised as a kind of substitute father. He let her down and I had to give him legitimate reasons to do so. Mannerisms… they came from watching people in buses and trains!
When you were researching in preparation for this novel, were there any aspects of life around that time in general, that surprised you, pleasantly or otherwise?
The more you get into the 1910-14 age the more surprises! Poverty at that time was such that the war was actually a boon to those who were not in immediate danger. If you hailed from the horror of the slums being called up to the forces meant three meals a day, proper beds, a nice uniform and respect for who you were. Many pleaded: please don’t stop the war! I was also able to add a little texture from the family lexicon.
Hypothetically speaking, if “Her Private War” was made into a film, who would you think would be most suited to the characters of Charlotte and Scott?
My film choices for Charlotte and Scott; Kate Winslet and Tom Holland.
Growing up, have you always wanted to be a journalist/author or did your career aspirations lie elsewhere?
I always wanted to be a reporter from my teens, started writing a magazine at school and couldn’t wait to get started. Probably wrote about a hundred letters of application before I landed a job. Asking questions of other people, that’s the key… but now I ask questions of myself instead, delving into the imagination with ‘What if….?’
Are you a bookworm? What is your favourite genre and/or authors? Kindle or actual book?
Unsurprisingly, my favourite genre is the thriller, with Robert Harris probably the master of the art. Add in Philip Kerr, Ken Follett, Jack Higgins, Henry Porter, Peter Robinson, Robert Goddard, Gerald Seymour and Charles Cumming. I’m happy with either Kindle or paperback.
Is “Her Private War” available to purchase worldwide?
Her Private War is available to all English speaking readers(62 reviews in the UK, 38 in the US and 35 in Canada) and there are eight European translation versions of the book, the most recent in Spain, which I visited a few weeks back to help with the launch.
If you could visit any place in the world to give you inspiration for your next book, where would you go and why?
I’ve always fancied Amsterdam as a starter for another story… all that water, all those crimes, the paintings, the artists and the forgers. Dirty work at the crossroads, as my Mum used to say.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
As a keen walker I’m usually in outdoor gear, mostly The North Face, with Craghoppers and Karrimor boots (like slippers); on other occasions I attempt smart casual with jeans, favouring Gardeur or Meyer bought at a great little tailor’s in my local town.
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
Some comfortable Oxford shoes.
Boots Or Shoes?
Links you would like to share:
David Laws books on Amazon;
Facebook; Thriller Writers@davidlawsbooks.Book
Thank you very much David for chatting to me about your book and also thank you for sending me a copy of Her Private War for reviewing. I really enjoyed the read 😊 Thanks also to Ben Cameron
All photographs have been published with kind permission of David Laws, apart from where marked.