The Women’s War

I first met Fenella Miller at the Historical Novel Society conference in Manchester a couple years ago. As I talked to her I was impressed to learn how quickly she is able to complete each novel she writes – she has a long list of publishing credits. After the conference I checked my local library for her books. I found A Suitable Husband, a Regency romance. I enjoyed the book but I’m not really a fan of Regency fiction so I didn’t immediately search for any of her other titles.

Fenella recently released part 1 of Barbara’s War, a novel set during World War II and this title caught my attention.  When I read the book I immediately warmed to it as this era particularly interests me and I’ve spent a lot of time researching the Second World War for my own writing. The more I learn about the period, the more I want to know so I’m always intrigued by books set during this era. Fenella is currently writing the second part of Barbara’s War – which I’m waiting to read! Last week she also released another novel set during the same period, Hannah’s War. Fenella is visiting Ascroft, eh? today to talk about Hannah’s War.

Welcome, Fenella. Shall we get started?

Tell us about your novel.

Hannah’s War is a romantic historical suspense set in WW2. 

What prompted you to write about this historical event or era?
I had been writing Regency romance and wanted to do something different. WW2 is an era I am also familiar with so this is when I set it. 

How closely did you stick to the historical facts? If you used them loosely, how did you decide whether to deviate from them?

This is a work of fiction so the characters are entirely from my imagination. However the place, Debfield, is in fact Debden in Suffolk. The peripheral events mentioned are factual but the events involving my characters are fictional.

What research did you do for this book?

I spent two days in Debden and Saffron Walden and spent time with the local historian and a local farmer who had lived through the war. He drove me around the actual RAF base – an amazing experience. I think this might be the only undeveloped base – the infrastructure in the surrounding area is too poor for any building to have taken place. I have dozens of research books and used the internet. The buildings mentioned in Debfield (Debden) are as they were in the war. 

Do you use a mixture of historic figures and invented characters in the novel or any of your novels. If so, which is more difficult to write? Which to you prefer to write and why?

All my characters are fictional but many of the events are true.  A German plane did land on Debden base.

In an historical novel you must vividly re-create a place and people in a bygone era. How did you bring the place and people you are writing about to life?

Talking to people who were alive during the period is the best way – and I did a lot of this. My father and stepfather both talked a lot about their experiences in the RAF so I had that to draw on too. A writer must study the period, read books written then, do sufficient research to get the details right.

There often seems to be more scope in historical novels for male characters rather than female characters. Do you prefer to write one sex or the other. And, if so, why?

I write from both viewpoints. I don’t agree that there is more scope for male characters – if you’re writing fiction you create the main protagonists.  A historical written by a man will tend to have a male lead and be more action based – Bernard Cornwall being a perfect example. Of course Elizabeth Chadwick writes fact based books about the lives of real people and has several with male leads.

I enjoy writing from either viewpoint – I like to be in the heads of all my characters.

Thank you, Fenella, for answering my questions. I look forward to reading part 2 of Barbara’s War and I’ve just started Hannah’s War too.

About Fenella Miller: Before becoming an indie author, she had 9 novels published by Robert Hale and numerous novellas published by Linford, My Weekly and The People’s Friend. Readers can learn more about Fenella and her writing at her website.   

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About Dianne Ascroft

I'm a Canadian writer and author, living in Britain. My first novel, 'Hitler and Mars Bars' was released in March 2008. More information abo
This entry was posted in November 2012 and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Women’s War

  1. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge Fenella for her hard work and tenacious spirit. As a prolific writer, she has been, not only, an inspriation to me in her ventures away from mainline publishers, but she helped and advised me on the ins and outs of publishing on-line. I’m now beginning to reap the benefits. Thank you, Fenella.

  2. Autumn says:

    This sounds like a very interesting book! Historicals are lovely, and most especially when they’re well-researched. Best of luck with HANNAH’S WAR!

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