SAGA SATURDAY!! Welcome Head of Zeus saga writer, the wonderful Alrene Hughes...

Finding the Stories

I often wonder whether I would ever have written a novel, if there hadn’t been that battered old scrapbook. It rested, forgotten, at the back of the sideboard all the years I was growing up. It wasn’t until my mother died and it came into my possession, that I looked at it through adult eyes.

I had always known that my mother and her sisters had been singers during WW2. But now I had so much more detail: concert programmes; newspaper clippings; ENSA passes to enter military establishments; and wonderful photographs from the forties showing them looking very fashionable and glamorous. They were The Golden Sisters, billed as “The Girls with the Golden Voices” and they sang in the close harmony, swing style just like The Andrew’s Sisters.

It seemed like the makings of a great story: wartime Belfast; family life in a house with five women; the vaudeville style shows; the excitement and danger of the war; the opportunities for romance. I just knew they’d want me to write it.

The book was very successful and I went on to write a trilogy showing the war through the eyes of Martha and her family.

When I set out to write the story of Martha’s Girls, I didn’t intend to carry on writing once their story had been told, but by then I was hooked. All I needed was another story and I found it not ten minutes from where I live. There were records of a disused mill, brought into use at the outbreak of war as an enemy alien camp. What if a factory girl and a young German businessman were to fall in love and what if he then disappeared? Their story is told in ‘The Girl in the Pink Raincoat’.

On a visit to the Police Museum in Manchester I was shown a file containing items belonging to a woman police constable, including her notebooks. It made grim reading, but it became a gripping story ‘The Girl from the Corner Shop’ – a young, naïve widow who wants to do something worthwhile with her life.

Soon my Manchester trilogy will be complete with ‘Parachute Girl’ coming out later next year. What will I do then? Oh, I think the stories will find me…

About Alrene

Alrene Hughes grew up in Belfast and now lives in Manchester. She worked for BT, the BBC and was an English teacher for twenty years. She now writes full time.

Her first novel 'Martha's Girls' was inspired by a family scrapbook of concert programmes and newspaper cuttings about her mother and aunts, who were singers and members of ENSA entertaining the troops. Her second book in the trilogy 'The Golden Sisters' was published in March 2015 and the final book 'A Song in my Heart' was published in June 2016.

Her latest books are set in WW2 Manchester: ‘The Girl in the Pink Raincoat’ and ‘The Girl from the Corner Shop’. 

Blurb & Buy links

Latest Book: The Girl from the Corner Shop

WW2 Manchester: Newlyweds Helen and Jim Harrison have big plans to leave the family shop where Helen works and set up home together. But when Jim is tragically killed in an air raid, Helen is heartbroken, her life in ruins.
Battling grief and despair, Helen resolves to escape her domineering mother and rebuild her shattered world. Wartime Manchester is a dangerous place, besieged by crime and poverty. So, when Helen joins the Women's Auxiliary Police Corps, working with evacuees, the destitute and the vulnerable, she finds a renewed sense of purpose. She's come a long way from her place behind the counter in the corner shop.
But there's still something missing in her heart. Is Helen able to accept love and happiness and find the courage to change her life?

The Girl from the Corner Shop
Twitter @alrenehughes

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