Let me introduce you to Vicki Beeby – an author I have had the pleasure of meeting on line recently. We have a couple of things in common: she used to teach in a school in Suffolk where I also taught for a while (small world). She’s also published a new novel set against the Second World War and as you may already know, I am fascinated by this period in history. Probably because my own parents were only nineteen when the war broke out and experienced those six terrible years. They didn’t talk about it much and research since then has uncovered so much about their war. I wish they had spoken personally about it, but maybe it was too painful for them. I feel it is important to write ordinary people’s stories before they are forgotten.
Anyway – back to Vicki. I have to admit that I haven’t read her new book yet. It’s waiting on my kindle. But I chatted to her about it.
1. Vikki, I love this cover. I feel I want to talk to those three girls. What do you think you would have done as a young woman at the start of the war? (i.e. would you have thought about enlisting? What would have been an ideal job for you?)
I think I would have enlisted. Most likely in the WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force) because they had the best uniform! I’m sad to say I doubt it would have been from any noble sentiment of serving my country but because I had a bad case of wanderlust in my late teens and early twenties. I would probably have seen enlisting as a way of seeing new places and meeting new people.
I would have loved the same job I gave to my heroine, Evie – working in a fighter station operations room. Like Evie, I love maths, so I would have been best suited to one of the jobs that required a good mathematical ability like plotter or filter plotter. I would have loved to have been at the sharp end of the action, although I’m less sure how I would have coped under bombing.
2. Interesting! It’s hard to know how we would have reacted, isn’t it? When we haven’t been in that situation. Can you show us where you write and tell us a little bit about your writing routine.
I usually write on my laptop, so I take it to whatever room happens to be warmest—normally my bedroom! I either sit in this chair in the bay window or, if it’s cold, sit on the bed and wrap up in a blanket.
Because I do other work during the day, I have to make an effort to carve out writing time. As I’m a morning person, I get up at 5am and do my day’s writing between 5 and 7.30. When I’m writing a first draft I try and write a thousand words a day, so if I don’t hit my target in the morning, I pick it up again later in the afternoon. Oddly, if I don’t write first thing, I find it very difficult to write later on, but I don’t have a problem if I already have words down.
That looks very cosy and comfy. I think I might nod off if I wrote like that. I love that we are all so different.
3. Tell us why you chose to include Czech pilots in your fictional Battle of Britain squadron?
Both my brothers have Czech wives. My older brother lives in the Czech Republic, and I usually visit at least once a year. One of my sisters-in-law recommended I watch the film Dark Blue World about Czechs who flew with the RAF during the war. Coincidentally this was when I was starting to research The Ops Room Girls. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to include Czechs in my fictional squadron, to honour the contribution made by the Czechs which, sadly, has been largely forgotten.
The Ops Room Girls Blurb:
When Evie’s dreams come crashing down, she’s determined to still make something of herself in these trying times…
It is 1939 and workingclass Evie Bishop has received a scholarship to study mathematics at Oxford when tragedy turns her life upside down. Evie must seek a new future for herself and, inspired to contribute to the war effort, joins the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force as an Ops Room plotter.
Posted to a fighter station on the Sussex Coast, Evie befriends two other WAAFs – shy, awkward May and flirty, glamorous Jess. Faced with earning the approval of strict officers and finding their way in a male dominated world, the three girls band together to overcome challenges, navigate new romances and keep their pilots safe in the skies.
But the German bombers seem to know more than they should about the base’s operations, and soon Evie, May and Jess are caught up in a world more dangerous than they ever imagined…
Thank you so much for dropping by, Vicki, and I wish you every success with this new book. It sounds fascinating, can’t wait to read it. Good luck!