Two Lancasters In Flight Together Once More

Originally posted on Defence of the Realm:

2 lancs 2

Two Avro Lancasters have flown in formation together for the first time in over 50 years. This amazing sight took place today (August 14th 2014) at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire after the arrival of the Canadian aircraft (known affectionately as ‘Vera’) in the UK to join the Battle of Britian Memorial Flight’s ‘Thumper’. Over the forthcoming air show season the two aircraft are expected to make around 60 air show appearances in what will probably be the very last time more than one Lancaster will fly together.

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British Posters From the Second World War

I think everyone is familiar with that the iconic KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON poster, now everywhere and repurposed to sell, lampoon, or support virtually everything (I will probably have a KEEP CALM AND TRUST HETHERIDGE version for Black & Blue, since things will get rocky for our heroes in that book). What you may not know is, the original was designed in the event of invasion by German forces, so mercifully, it was never actually put in circulation until long after the war. But here are some other posters, all now in the public domain, that the Ministry of Information put out between 1939-1945.

By mid-war, unmarried females were expected to do their bit by joining a home front service. The Women's Royal Navy Service was meant to free up men for combat by placing women in shore-based duties.

By mid-war, unmarried females were expected to do their bit by joining a home front service. The Women’s Royal Navy Service was meant to free up men for combat by placing women in shore-based duties.

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When the Local Defence Volunteers (soon renamed the Home Guard) were formed in mid 1940, ARP volunteers shifted duties in large numbers, anxious to fight for their country after Dunkirk.

Caring for Evacuees

The first efforts at evacuating children, pregnant women, and the elderly went poorly, since the expected German air raids didn’t happen right away, and naturally families resisted being split up. Once the Blitz started, the need to help bombed out families became very real.
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The blackout officially started on September 1, 1939, though many areas (including my imaginary village of Birdswing) were compliant earlier. According to WARTIME BRITAIN 1939-1945 (Gardiner, 2004): “In the first four months of the war a total of 4,133 people were killed on Britain’s roads, and 2,657 were pedestrians.” The poster above is a grim reminder.

Why Cornwall? (Part Two)

Last week, I posted some photographs of Cornwall to give you just a taste of why I set my newest book there. Here are some more.

Lizard Point, a fine example of the beautiful Cornish coast.

Lizard Point, a fine example of the beautiful Cornish coast.

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Lostwithiel … that name makes me think of J.R.R. Tolkien and his elves.

Before Cornwall was a tourist mecca, "wreckers" used to lure ships onto the rocks with lanterns.

Before Cornwall was a tourist mecca, “wreckers” used to lure ships onto the rocks with lanterns.

The picturesque Port Isaac village.

The picturesque Port Isaac village.

Remembrance Sunday

One of those occasions where images fare better than words.

Cenotaph Memorial London

Cenotaph Memorial, London

Red Ceramic Poppies at the Tower of London

Red Ceramic Poppies at the Tower of London

Remembrance Poppies

Remembrance Poppies

Bonfire Night

Guy Fawkes Mask

Guy Fawkes Mask

“Remember, remember, the fifth of November, Gunpowder Treason and Plot”

On November 5, 1605, Guy Fawkes was arrested for plotting the assassination of King James I. In Great Britain, the day has meant different things to different people: a commemoration of the king’s survival, a celebration of bonfires and fireworks to break up the autumn monotony, even an appreciation of those who question authority and challenge the powers that be. When writing my latest book, Marriage Can Be Murder, I wondered how my village of Birdswing would celebrate in 1939, just two months after the start of the Blackout. Here’s an excerpt:

In addition to his amateur detective work, Ben kept up his rehabilitation efforts, forcing himself to put on his coat, pick up his cane, and walk the length of the high street twice a day. Only once did he fall, pivoting so quickly to avoid a tomcat that his left knee buckled. As the big, ragged creature darted into an alley, Ben was hauled to his feet by a trio of  little old ladies, then questioned by ARP Warden Gaston, who’d burst out of Morton’s café when he heard the commotion.

“I’m quite all right. It was only a one-eared cat. Orange, with stripes. Did you think I’d been attacked by German agents?” Ben grumbled, dusting off his trousers.

“I didn’t think at all,” Gaston said proudly. “In event of emergency I never do. One of my luckier qualities.” To the small crowd, he said, “Off with you! Find suitable occupation. That’s an order. The poor man’s embarrassed enough, making up tales of cats without you lot gawping at him.”

“Tales?” Ben peered into the alley, gloomy from the shelter of two overhanging roofs. He thought he saw two yellow eyes glowing back at him from behind the metal rubbish bins. But as soon as he blinked, they were gone.

“I can give you a ride back to Fenton House,” Gaston continued, not unkindly. “Or give you my arm and help you there, if you’re dead set on walking. Need to speak to Agnes about this Bonfire Day nonsense. I’ve half a mind to drive up to the manor and tell Lady Juliet I’ve changed my mind about permitting it.”

“Please don’t.” The village thrummed with anticipation; Ben had heard about little else for weeks. Due to the blackout, Birdswing was forbidden from the usual nighttime festivities for Guy Fawkes Night: roman candles, Catherine wheels, a huge bonfire in the village square. There had been some efforts to convince the vicar to throw a substitute party in the church hall, perhaps with a papier-mâché bonfire, candles, punch, music, and dancing. Having never approved of Guy Fawkes Night, which struck Father Cotterill as practically pagan, he’d refused. But just as the disappointed villagers resigned themselves to 5 November as yet another silent, colorless night, Lady Juliet had appeared on the high street, bursting into shops and salons and restaurants with the news. On the very next Sunday, a daylight version of Bonfire Night would be held at Belsham Manor, and every resident of Birdswing was welcome.

“If you try and shut it down at this point,” Ben told Gaston, “you’ll likely have a riot on your hands. Besides, your sister isn’t home. She’s getting her hair done. I’ve never seen her so excited.”

“Excitement breeds disobedience,” the air warden muttered. “I can’t imagine what’s gotten into Lady Juliet. She’s never been one for parties. Usually wanders off halfway through or spends the whole night reading a book.”

Ben knew what had gotten into her, and while he had his doubts about the scheme’s efficacy, he couldn’t fault the good intentions behind it. Breathless with enthusiasm, she’d rang him a few days ago, spilling out her thought process before he could even say hello.

“Last night, as I was propped up in bed reading a mystery novel… wait. I just realized I’ve never asked. Do you enjoy mystery novels? I do, so long as the woman isn’t a ninny. Can’t abide ninnies. At any rate, I was reading, and thereupon it struck me like Archimedes in his bath: how does one advance a case like Penny’s, where there are more suspects than evidence? Eureka! Give a dinner party and invite all the players!”

She paused, both to take a breath and receive praise. Ben knew better than to laugh, though he was glad she’d announced her plan by phone. Had she been able to see his expression, the resultant injuries might have put him back in that ghastly Edwardian wheelchair.

“You mean, actually invite them to Belsham Manor, lock them in your parlor, snuff the lights, and wait to see who turns up dead?”

“No, that’s how murders happen, not how they’re solved,” Lady Juliet said patiently. “The idea is to get the liquor flowing, get them chatting and joking and laughing, and just observe. The murderer is sure to be exquisitely uncomfortable under pressure and thus reveal himself. Particularly if it’s Freddy Sparks.

“The pretext is simple,” she continued. “Guy Fawkes Night during the day. Why moan about not being allowed to burn an effigy when we can do it before sundown? As for our suspects, I doubt I can dig up Mrs. Hibbet, but I’ll invite her, just in case. And I’ll need to go back to Plymouth to invite Bobby Archer, but that’s no sacrifice. I can apologize for accusing him—the better to snare him later, if it comes to it—and purchase a new dress while I’m there.”

“New dress?”

“Yes,” she barked. “No tartan skirt and no trousers but a proper dress, like Margaret’s friends. Perhaps I’ll get my hair curled, too, and put on my mother’s sapphire earbobs, rendering you and your kind speechless.”

He grinned. Any day he could get a rise out of Lady Juliet was a good day. “Ah, but my kind is in short supply. Your table may be overloaded with ladies. How many villagers will you invite?”

“Why, all of them, of course.”

© Emma Jameson, Lyonnesse Books, 2014

Amazon: http://amzn.to/10SMu6m

BN: http://bit.ly/1xa1kiS

Apple Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/marriage-can-be-murder/id936762241?mt=11&uo=4

Kobo Books: http://bit.ly/1ureZoB

Why Cornwall?

So, most of you know me from the Lord & Lady Hetheridge books, which are set in present-day London. And I adore London, so when I first had the inspiration (about a year ago to this day) to create a new series set in wartime Britain, why not London? There’s so much drama, including the Blitz, the evacuations, the rise of Churchill, the change in women’s status as they go out to work in greater numbers, etc. But when I write a book, it always starts with the lead character — in this case, Dr. Benjamin Bones. I knew right away that he grew up in London, but he was on his way to someplace rural. As Dr. Bones took shape, the village of Birdswing sprang to life as well. And two of my early readers (those saintly folk who read an unedited manuscript and give honest feedback) told me Devon was the wrong place for Birdswing. It belonged in Cornwall.

Remember Tintagel, the legendary birthplace of King Arthur? It’s in Cornwall. There’s also spectacular beaches, famous destinations like Land’s End and St. Ives, the wild beauty of Bodmin Moor and many prehistoric ruins. I’ll post a few pictures to give you a taste.

The beach in St. Ives.

The beach in St. Ives.

Bodmin Moor at sunset.

Bodmin Moor at sunset.

Cornish street.

Cornish street.

Lanyon Quiot silhouette.

Lanyon Quoit silhouette.

Restornmel Castle

Restornmel Castle

Spectacular, isn’t it? More tomorrow.

A New Book at Last!

MCBM Cover

Hi, all! I promised myself I wouldn’t return to this blog until I had a new full-length novel to offer. Well, here it is! It’s live on Amazon and BN (Nook) and should appear in the Apple Store and at Kobo very soon. Here’s what it’s about.

Murder in Haunted Cornwall

On the eve of World War II, Dr. Benjamin Bones is at war with himself. While most young men are being sent away to fight the Germans, Ben is chosen to serve on English soil. Ordered to move to wild, beautiful Cornwall, he must trade his posh London office and stylish city life for the tiny village of Birdswing, population 1,221 souls. But leaving his home and shelving his career ambitions aren’t the only sacrifices facing Ben. His unfaithful wife, Penny, is accompanying him to Cornwall in a last-ditch effort to save their marriage. But moments after their arrival, Penny is run down in the street, and Ben is almost fatally injured. And while the villagers assume Penny’s death to be an accident, Ben quickly deduces it was murder.

As he convalesces in Fenton House, which the locals call haunted, Ben meets Birdswing’s eccentric inhabitants. Mr. Gaston, the volunteer air warden, obsessed with defending his remote village against Nazi spies; Mrs. Cobblepot, a thoroughly practical housekeeper who believes in fairies; and Lady Juliet Linton, a prickly, headstrong aristocrat who won’t take no for an answer. While adapting to life during Britain’s “War at Home,” a time of ration books, victory gardens, bomb shelters, and the Blackout, Ben sets about solving the mystery of Penny’s murder—with a little help from Lady Juliet and the Fenton House ghost.

MARRIAGE CAN BE MURDER (Dr. Benjamin Bones Mysteries #1) is the new cozy mystery series from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Emma Jameson.

I do hope while you await Hetheridge #4, you’ll give this one a try. Cheers!

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