1940 Liverpool. The pressures of war threaten to tear apart two sisters traumatised by their father’s murder of their mother.
With her new husband, Will, a merchant seaman, deployed on dangerous Atlantic convoy missions, Hannah needs her younger sister Judith more than ever. But when Mussolini declares war on Britain, Judith’s Italian sweetheart, Paolo is imprisoned as an enemy alien, and Judith’s loyalties are divided.
Each sister wants only to be with the man she loves but, as the war progresses, tensions between them boil over, and they face an impossible decision.
When and where do you prefer to write?
I am fortunate to have a study with plenty of space so I mostly write there on an iMac. Sometimes I prefer to be in the sunnier living room where I can curl up on the sofa with my laptop. And I often do my best work, early in the morning, in bed, writing either on my laptop or by hand. I take my cue from Edith Wharton who always wrote in bed, casting each complete page onto the floor for her secretary to gather up later and sort out! Alas, I have no secretary.
Do you need peace and quiet when you are writing?
Yes! No music while I work. No sitting in cafés (not that any of us can do that these days!)
If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
I wouldn’t want to co-write. At least not for fiction. I did co-write a non-fiction book with three friends, published in 2012.
Say someone asks if they can use your name in a book. Would you rather be the ‘good one’ or the ‘bad one’?
Baddies are often more interesting. But I’d be happy to be the good one if it was a nuanced character torn in different directions. I like characters who are subtle mixtures of good and bad. Just make sure it’s not boring!
Who would you like/have liked to interview?
I think that’s a question for a journalist rather than a writer. But if I were to be a journo for a day and could time travel, I’d interview Gertrude Bell and ask her how it felt to have been the key player at the Cairo conference, the primary mover in the creation of Iraq only to be written out of history because she was a woman, while TE Lawrence was lionised. I’d also want to know why, as a single woman in the early 20th century, she was so drawn to the Middle East. I’d want to talk to her about the situation today in Iraq and how her recommendations in the 1920s had repercussions that endure today. We’d talk about the appalling theft of artefacts in the 2003 Iraq War, from the National Museum she created in Bagdhad. And I’d want to understand from her whether she took her own life or if it was an accidental overdose.
· Image of Gertrude Bell on a camel with Winston and Clementine Churchill and T E Lawrence in 1921
Where can I find you when you are reading?
Anywhere – but mostly in bed
Where can I find you when you are not writing/reading?
Under non-Covid circumstances, you’d find me on my travels – I love to go away both for pleasure and research – and they often amount to the same thing.
What goes through your mind when you hold your new book in your hands for the first time?
No matter how many books you write, it’s always a thrill to hold a new one in your hands – the fruit of months of work – but I’m getting a little weary of the obligatory Instagram author video or photo of shock and delight as a new book is unwrapped. Sometimes it seems as if we are fetishing physical books rather than what’s inside them.
How do you come up with a title for your book?
Sometimes it’s fast, easy and obvious. Other times I ache my brain for weeks. Mostly I get on with writing the book and hope the title will magically appear before I get to the end. Sisters at War was going to be called The Burning Sky – I thought the sisters title was a bit obvious. Then another author told me it was a much better fit. Thank you, Liza Perat!
How do you pick a cover for your book?
I have worked with the same designer, Jane Dixon-Smith, since 2014 so she understands what my expectations are. She’s a joy to work with. I tell her what the book is about – setting, period, genre etc. It’s vital that the cover is genre-appropriate, impactful, and fitting my “brand”.
Thank you for hosting me on your blog, Els.
Thank you, Clare Flynn and The Coffee Pot Book Club
About the Author
Clare Flynn is the author of thirteen historical novels and a collection of short stories. A former International Marketing Director and strategic management consultant, she is now a full-time writer.
Having lived and worked in London, Paris, Brussels, Milan and Sydney, home is now on the coast, in Sussex, England, where she can watch the sea from her windows. An avid traveler, her books are often set in exotic locations.
Clare is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a member of The Society of Authors, ALLi, and the Romantic Novelists Association. When not writing, she loves to read, quilt, paint and play the piano.
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Clare-Flynn/e/B008O4T2LC/
Amazon UK: https://amazon.co.uk/dp/B08Z473XG2