“Outlander meets Birdsong is this haunting debut timeslip novel, where a strange twist of fate connects a British soldier fighting in the First World War and a young woman living in modern-day England a century later. Shortlisted for the Eharmony/Orion Write Your Own Love Story Prize 2019”
In 1916 1st Lieutenant Robert Lovett is a patient at Coldbrook Hall military hospital in Sussex, England. A gifted artist, he’s been wounded fighting in the Great War. Shell shocked and suffering from hysterical blindness he can no longer see his own face, let alone paint, and life seems increasingly hopeless.
A century later in 2017, medical student Louisa Casson has just lost her beloved grandmother – her only family. Heartbroken, she drowns her sorrows in alcohol on the South Downs cliffs – only to fall accidentally part-way down. Doctors fear she may have attempted suicide, and Louisa finds herself involuntarily admitted to Coldbrook Hall – now a psychiatric hospital, an unfriendly and chaotic place.
Then one day, while secretly exploring the old Victorian hospital’s ruined, abandoned wing, Louisa hears a voice calling for help, and stumbles across a dark, old-fashioned hospital room. Inside, lying on the floor, is a mysterious, sightless young man, who tells her he was hurt at the Battle of the Somme, a WW1 battle a century ago. And that his name is Lieutenant Robert Lovett…
Two people, two battles: one against the invading Germans on the battlefields of 1916 France, the other against a substandard, uncaring mental health facility in modern-day England. Two journeys begun a century apart, but somehow destined to coincide – and become one desperate struggle to be together.
Part WW1 historical fiction, part timeslip love story – and at the same time a meditation on the themes of war, mental illness, identity and art – Beyond The Moon sweeps the reader on an unforgettable journey through time.
– When and where do you prefer to write?
I write during school term times, when my incredibly lively and noisy children are safely out of the way at school and the house is lovely and quiet. I don’t do at all well with noise and distractions. I write in my “office”, a lovely, light room in our old Victorian house in west London. My desk is opposite a large sash window that looks out onto the back garden and swaying trees. I love to sit here and contemplate the changing weather while coming up with story ideas.
– Do you have a certain ritual?
Once I’ve dropped my children at school I head off to the shops and do the shopping for our evening meal, then I head off to the coffee shop with my rather battered Thermos mug…
– Is there a drink of some food that keeps you company while you write?
…where I buy the largest, strongest white Americano they have, along with a granola yoghurt. I then take these home with me, sit at my desk, and slowly consume over the next couple of hours. I am a real creature of habit. And I find this little routine sort of ‘meditative’. It definitely relaxes me (despite the caffeine!) and puts me into a creative and writing frame of mind.
– What is your favourite book?
I’ve loved Colleen McCullough’s The Thorn Birds since the 1980s, when I first read it as a teenager. It was the book that first taught me what an incredibly emotional experience reading fiction could be, and how you can feel personally touched and affected by a story. I remember so many of Colleen McCullough’s beautiful descriptions about the Australian Outback to this day.
– Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
I would quite like to write a romantic comedy one day, but I must say that the ideas for such a book don’t spring to mind as readily as all the ideas I have for historical fiction
– Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?
Not entire people, but parts of some characters’ make-up might well be influenced by certain people – either those that I know personally or have read about. But having said that, as an author I think there is something of yourself (more than a little, a lot of the time) in every character you write.
– Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
It’s not quite as “authorly” as a notebook, but my mobile phone goes everywhere with me and I usually put any ideas that I have on the fly into an email on that, then send it to myself. I must admit I do like the idea of a notebook (and maybe a beautiful fountain pen to go with it), but my handbag already weighs a ton.
– Which genre do you not like at all?
That’s a really good question. I don’t like the horror genre at all, either in book or film form. I just see it as a form of rather base “cheap thrills”. That’s very much a personal opinion, though. I also would never choose to read crime or detective fiction. It just doesn’t interest me.
– If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
How about Lord Byron? That would probably be tremendous fun!
– If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you chose and why?
I’ve always longed to visit Israel and see all the historical religious sites over there. If I could combine a trip there with research for a novel that would be just perfect.
Thank you, Catherine Taylor and Rachel’s Random Resources
About the author
Catherine Taylor was born and grew up on the island of Guernsey in the British Channel Islands. She is a former journalist, most recently for Dow Jones News and The Wall Street Journal in London. Beyond The Moon is her first novel. She lives in Ealing, London with her husband and two children.