This is a new segment for the blog. Over the next few months, I will be talking to other authors about their writing, the inspirations behind their books and many other things.
To launch this new segment, I caught up with fellow Sapere Books author, Jane Cable.
Jane’s first book with Sapere Books, Another You, was published in 2019 and her new book, Endless Skies, is out on 27 July 2020. Prior to this, Jane wrote the award winning The Cheesemaker’s House and the evocative, The Faerie Tree.
Hi Jane, congratulations on the publication of Endless Skies. Both this and your previous title, Another You, are novels featuring echoes from World War Two. What drew you to this particular time period?
Jane Cable: I fell into World War Two by accident when I was researching the history of Studland Bay where Another You is set. This story began as a modern ghost story but then I discovered Studland was where most of the live ammunition practices for the D-Day landings (Operation Smash) were held. On the first day of the exercises, there was a tragic accident killing seven men. It spoke to me so loudly that I decided to keep my original characters, the Johnson family, but rewrite the plot to incorporate this historic event.
It had always been my intention for my first two books with Sapere Books to be a pair, but again, most of Endless Skies was written by the time I unlocked its World War Two element. My main character, Rachel Ward, is an archaeologist and I had her digging up Romans but it wasn’t working. During a visit to Lincolnshire, where the book is set, I visited Hemswell, a former Second World War RAF base, and suddenly, I knew why the Romans weren’t working, Rachel needed to be digging up the war. As soon as I realised this, everything fell into place.
AW: Isn’t it strange how the solutions to plot puzzles often find us! This seems even more pertinent to you as your characters are visited by shadows from the past. What was the inspiration behind your main character, archaeologist, Rachel Ward?
JC: Archaeology has always fascinated me and I thought it would be fun to have someone in that line of work as a character. Rachel is a career academic who, in many ways, has never reached emotional maturity; something she will never admit. Her inability to move forward is because of a trauma in her teenage past. She needs to be able to grow away from her comfort zone for the story to progress.
I also wanted to write about a highly intelligent woman who didn’t feel she had to hide her brightness to attract a man. In fact, she uses men and not always in a very pleasant way. Once I started to write, it surprised me how acerbic and difficult she was but I grew to love and respect her. It was an adventure for us both as I accompanied her on this journey of change.
AW: She sounds intriguing. With Rachel having such a specific job, did you find you had to do a lot of research into her career, as well as researching your WWII storyline? Which sources did you find most useful?
JC: Researching Rachel’s career was a labour of love! I disappeared down so many rabbit holes doing it. I spent a long time poring over Lincoln university’s website, visiting the campus, going to the local museums and reading dig reports from the area. These were time consuming but fascinating.
I first discovered these reports in Scunthorpe library, then found the online treasure trove that is the Archaeology Data Service. Not only could I read about digs in the locations Rachel was working, but I could also research the era and types of artefacts she would be digging up. I struck absolute gold with one extensive report into a field approximately two hundred metres away from Rachel’s fictional excavation.
The more research I did, the greater my desire to wield my own trowel and feel what it was like working in a trench. I volunteered for Dig Ventures and both my other half and I helped to excavate an Iron Age settlement on Bodmin Moor. It was the best experience and we’ve joined the Cornwall Archaeological Society. We’re longing to do it again.
Sounds great fun, Jane. Thank you so much for talking to me today.
Endless Skies is published on 27 July 2020, by Sapere Books, £2.99: available at: http://getbook.at/EndlessSkies