IT'S SAGA SATURDAY!! Please welcome historical fiction author Jan Casey...

Hi Jan! I am so happy to welcome you to Saga Saturday for the very first time - my readers will be delighted to find out more about you and your work. Let's get started with my questions...

1.)              Do you use pictures as inspiration at the start of a book?

When I first heard the so-called urban myth about the women who rebuilt Waterloo Bridge during World War 2, I was determined to find at least one photo so I could legitimately claim that the event had happened.  Eventually, I found three photos of women working on the bridge and took their stories from there.

For Women at War, there wasn’t an initial picture or photo, but I did source photos of life in Germany during World War 2 and was able to transcribe some of the incidents depicted into the narrative the book.

And for my third novel, I again researched to find a photo to make sure that women actually undertook the role I was planning to write about.

2.)              What is your favourite period drama?

There are so many.  I am fascinated with the interwar years and the period of time just after World War 2.  Call the Midwife is fantastic because it is such an enlightening social history.  I grew up in the United States during the Viet Nam War so that period of time is interesting in retrospect, too.

3.)              Are the titles of your books important?

Yes very, but I’m not very good at titles.  I’m very grateful to my publisher, Aria Fiction, who came up with the titles for my first two books, but I’m hoping the working title I have for the third will be acceptable.

4.)              If you’re struggling with a scene or difficult character, what methods help you through it?

All of the usual things like going for a walk, having a cup of tea or sleeping on it all help.  Also, sometimes just writing through it even if that means eventually editing out the parts that don’t work.  I also try to pare things back by asking myself what it is I’m really trying to say, then writing that up and filling in the gaps.

5.)              Are you an early bird or a night owl?

I can be either and I know that being an early bird is better for me, but at heart I’m a night owl.

6.)              Who’s your favourite author? Why?

You’re too cruel to make me choose just one.  I’ve been influenced by Charles Dickens and all the Brontë sisters, John Steinbeck and James Joyce.  I love reading Haruki Murakami, Hilary Mantel, Sarah Waters and Tim Winton but probably my favourite is Peter Carey.  His characters are so rich and his writing is never cliched.

7.)              Do you have a pet peeve?

In the writing world, my pet peeve is people who pass judgement on a book without finishing it.  If someone isn’t enjoying a book then of course they have every right to put it aside, but I don’t think it’s fair to criticise a piece of work unless you’ve read the whole thing.

8.)              Can you tell me a little about your next project?

I’m editing the first draft of my third novel which has to be with my lovely editor, Hannah Todd at Aria Fiction, by the end of this month.  It’s about a young woman who is a Civil Defence Bomb Plotter during World War 2 with alternate chapters about the same woman in 1974.  It’s set in and around Notting Hill in London and Cromer in Norfolk.

The Women of Waterloo Bridge:

London, 1940. 

After her fiancé breaks off their engagement, Evelyn decides to do her part for the war effort by signing up for construction work on Waterloo Bridge. Enjoying the physical work and her newfound purpose, she begins to realise that there could be so much more to her life than anything she'd ever dared to dream of. 

Grieving after her little boy dies in an air raid, Gwen is completely lost when her husband sends their younger children to the countryside for safety. Enlisting as a construction worker, she is partnered with cheerful Evelyn. Despite Gwen's initial reticence, the two women strike up a heartwarming friendship – but will it be enough to save Gwen from her sorrow? 

Musical prodigy Joan's life has always been dictated by her controlling mother. When an affair nearly ends in scandal, Joan finally takes her life into her own hands. Determined never to touch a violin again, she soon finds work at Waterloo Bridge. Yet there are other troubles for her to overcome

           Women at War:

Two women. One war.  

For Viola Baxter, 1939 was supposed to be a wonderful year. After meeting and falling in love with dashing Fred Scholz at Cambridge University, they planned to marry and start their new lives together. She never imagined her father would say no to the marriage. Fred is half-German and, with war fast approaching, he must travel to Germany to bring his sister home. But that journey is enough for others to suspect him... and Viola.

When Annie Scholz heard her beloved grandmother was seriously ill, she wasted no time rushing to Germany to be by her side. She didn't realise it meant she would not be able to return home to the UK, or that her decision would endanger her brother, Fred, as well. Even reuniting with her childhood beau is bittersweet – how can she love someone who stands for everything she opposes? With everyone watching Annie and Fred so closely, there is no room for error... or dangerous resistance.

With war the only certainty, there's just one thing in question: where do Viola and Annie's loyalties lie? Women at War is the thrilling and heart-wrenching new WW2 story from Jan Casey, author of The Women of Waterloo Bridge.

This is my bio:
Jan Casey's novels, like her first - The Women of Waterloo Bridge - explore the themes of how ordinary people are affected by extraordinary events during any period in history, including the present. Jan is fascinated with the courage, adaptability and resilience that people rise to in times of adversity and for which they do not expect pay, praise or commendation. Jan is also interested in writing about the similarities as opposed to the differences amongst people and the ways in which experiences and emotions bind humans together.

Jan was born in London but spent her childhood in Southern California. She was a teacher of English and Drama for many years and is now a Learning Supervisor at a college of further education.

When she is not working or writing, Jan enjoys yoga, swimming, cooking, walking, reading and spending time with her grandchildren.

Before becoming a published author, Jan had short stories and flash fictions published.

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