When I read that during the First World War in Serbia, a British woman became a soldier I was fascinated. I looked up her story and my first attempt at this novel, was of my own hero, Ellen Frankland, becoming a soldier. Only I wanted her to face more obstacles. I imagined that not all the soldiers welcomed her – that she usurped their abilities to fight and to kill – and they resisted her rise as a hero. My problem as her creator was that however hard I tried, I could not persuade her to shoot to kill a fellow human being – certainly not without provocation and the men I pictured her fighting alongside, did not allow her to face the dangers they did.

So I wrote a different novel. This time, Ellen’s story was interwoven with that of a Serb colonel, a soldier who had lost the hunger for war while Ellen, though not blood-thirsty, romanticised the fighting. Like many British young men who volunteered at the beginning of the First World War, Ellen had no idea of the cost of war: its traumas, the deaths of friends and what we now call post traumatic stress disorder.

In the process of writing this novel, I learned that for me, writing is finding the characters I can write about, and then allowing them to tell their stories. It is not easy!

 

Please see Marg’s Pinterest board ‘Flora Sandes’

 

Stay up to date

Stay up to date

For recent news and event updates, why not sign up to my newsletter.

You have Successfully Subscribed!