IT'S SAGA SATURDAY!! Please welcome author Ginny Bell...

How Dick Emery led me to write The Dover Café at War It’s funny how the places you spend your formative years sink into your psyche. When I started to think about writing a novel, Dover was top of the list for the location. Mostly because, when I was sixteen, I chose to move to Dover College. The reason I chose Dover over other schools was that the headmaster was so like Dick Emery’s vicar that my father and I spent most of the interview trying not to laugh. So in a roundabout way, Dick Emery was responsible for putting me on the path that eventually led to writing my first book. But it was only after I had written the first draft that I realised how so many of my favourite teenage haunts had turned up in the book. For example, Perkins’ Fish, which stands opposite Castle’s Café, is actually the site of a café where my friends and I spent many hours playing space invaders. It’s no longer there, of course, but I must have gazed out at the corner of Castle Street where today the Market Square Café stands, more times than I can count. (During the war, this was the site of a restaurant called Igglesden and Graves, which is why I put Castle’s in that spot). When we weren’t in the cafe, we would wander up to the castle with a sneaky bottle of wine and drink it overlooking the Eastern docks. A place Edie likes to stand when she’s on a break from the garage. On other occasions, we would go up to Western Heights, and walk around the abandoned Napoleonic fort and Drop Redoubt (which features in Book 2), stare out over the Western docks. Exactly where Donny and his friend Freddie have their little cave. (Although there isn’t and never has been a little cave there.) At the time, of course, I had no idea what a truly dreadful ordeal the people of Dover suffered during the war. How so much of the town was destroyed and how only 12000 people chose to stay despite the terrible dangers. And still they tried to lead their lives as normally as possible – the town hall held weekly dances, the cinemas stayed open, and the Hippodrome only closed because it was destroyed by a shell. I take my hat off to them; I’m not sure I would have had the courage.
Blurb Dover 1939 At the heart of the Market Square lies Castle’s Café, run by the formidable Nellie Castle and her six children. Since the scandalous birth of her son ten years before, Marianne, Nellie’s eldest daughter, has preferred to stay in the kitchen, hidden away from the scrutiny of the town gossips. Overcome with shame, she has never revealed the identity of Donny’s father – not even to her own mother. But with World War II just around the corner, soon Marianne’s past catches up with her. And suddenly the lives of the Castle family become a lot more complicated. Will the secrets from her past destroy her future. Author bio: Ginny Bell went to school in Dover, never realising at the time what a fascinating and crucial role the town played in World War Two. After over twenty-five years in the publishing industry, she left to work as a freelance editor. It was only after ghostwritng a couple of books that she decided to try to write her own. And so the Castle family was born, and they have taken up residence in her imagination ever since. She lives in London with her three children.

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