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Author Interview with Bookouture's Suzanne Goldring

Book Blurb:

Someone is trying to hide what really happened to her. I must do anything to discover the truth. Even risk my own life….

Paris 1945. I sent nineteen-year-old Phyllis, my youngest recruit, into a city crawling with enemy soldiers. But she was smart as a tack, and her gold-flecked hazel eyes could capture anyone’s hearts. I was certain she would succeed. But then she disappeared without a trace. And no one will help me discover what happened to her.

I am desperate to find her – the girl I told to lie to her family about where she was going. She was excited to be doing her bit, but she was young and naïve. It was my job to make her understand the peril she would face. Is it my fault she is missing?

Now I creep into a beautiful house on a tree-lined street, the headquarters of cold-hearted German soldiers. It was the last place she was seen. I trail my fingers along the gilded furniture and see the light dance off the glittering chandeliers. On the top floor, I find the dates inscribed by beaten prisoners, and my heart sinks as I realise she was shown no mercy here.

As I search for the answers her family are begging for, I learn that the girl I swore to protect was moved around in secret. And when I find a message scratched on a food tin in a damp cell, I know I am getting closer to Phyllis at last…

But there are some who want the secrets of the war to be left in the past. Someone is sending me threatening letters, trying to scare me to stop... In finding answers about the girl who haunts my dreams, am I not only risking her life but my own too?

A heartbreaking, and completely unputdownable World War Two page-turner about the extraordinary bravery of women in the war. Fans of The Alice Network, The Nightingale and The Midwife of Auschwitz will be utterly glued to this unforgettable novel.

What everyone is saying about The Girl Who Never Came Back:

A thrilling, exciting page-turning book… Fantastic book and probably one of my favorites and the ending will blow your mind!I loved it all.’ Goodreads reviewer, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

A book I did not want to put down… The pages turn quickly and I will think often of TheGirl Who Never Came Back… An outstanding read.’ Goodreads reviewer, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Brilliantly written, expertly researched, a real page-turner!’ Goodreads reviewer, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Historical fiction at its best.’ Netgalley reviewer, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

A 100% buy-today-read-tonight delight. History comes alive in this brilliant, highly-imaginative, and vivid novel. Immersive and revelatory and a pleasure to read!’ Goodreads reviewer, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

‘Heart-warmingAmazing book… I'll be thinking about this book for quite a while.’ Goodreads reviewer, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Absolutely brilliantI couldn't put it down, I was totally hooked… Painful at times but important.’ Reading is My Tonic, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This book is about friendship, love, determination and peace… For me personally I think this author is up there with Pam Jenoff and Kristin Hannah. Highly recommend!!’ Goodreads reviewer, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

‘Incredible!I was hooked from the beginning… These female characters are amazing and I'm so glad I got to know them!’ Goodreads reviewer

Book Buy Link:

Author Bio:

Following an eventful career as a public relations consultant, specialising in business and travel, Suzanne Goldring turned to writing the kind of novels she likes to read, about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people. Her debut novel MY NAME IS EVA draws on her experience of volunteering in a care home and was partially inspired by a cache of wartime love letters which were saved from the flames. Her second novel, BURNING ISLAND, is set in Corfu, a place of fun and beauty but also tremendous tragedy.

Suzanne writes in her thatched cottage in Hampshire and a seaside cottage in Cornwall.

Author Interview:

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

I live in Jane Austen country, very close to the house where she lived with her sister Cassandra and her mother, which I’ve visited a few times. As I also wrote a dissertation on Austen as a student ( rather pompously entitled The Cinderella Syndrome!) I’ve always felt very close to her work and her knack for observation. I’m also in awe of her ability to work on a tiny, wobbly table in her teeny handwriting, while I’m seated at a sturdy desk tapping on a laptop.

Tell us the best writing tip you can think of, something that helps you.

The best thing I can offer and it applies somewhat to your next question, is do the research, dive in and don’t stop. I notice that many writers trying to begin a longer piece of work, can’t progress because they feel each sentence has to be perfect and polished before they can carry on. I believe in racing to the end, then taking stock. Get hold of the story, then refine it. The hardest part is knowing where the plot and your characters are going and I want to know that first before I worry about the quality of the writing. Although obviously I hope that some gems emerge as I frantically type the narrative.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Ha ha – it would be, why did you wait so long? I’d always wanted to write fiction, but ended up with a challenging and exciting job as a PR consultant that meant I wrote factually and didn’t have time to indulge in creative writing. But alongside raising a family, being a school governor, renovating old houses ( including my last 14th century home) I longed to write for myself. My first published novel emerged at the grand age of 70 and I’m now racing to keep them coming.

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

It’s so important in this solitary profession – and yes, I do think of it as a profession – to have allies and supporters who will give candid opinions and really listen to concerns. I am close friends with historical writers Molly Green, Carol McGrath, Gill Thompson, Lou Morrish and Jo Foat, also contemporary psychological thriller writers Gail Aldwin and Helen Mathews.

Can you give us a quick review of a favourite book by one of your author friends?

I’d like to review Gail Aldwin’s new book, "The Secret Life of Carolyn Russell, because she has employed dual timelines to relate this complex, compelling story of a schoolgirl’s disappearance. I love using this technique myself, as it is such an intriguing way of illustrating the impact of past actions on current behaviour. And in her deliciously clever interweaving of two timelines Aldwin contrasts teenage angst with middle-aged redundancy. Using a keen ear to create the voices of a troubled teenager in 1979 and a frustrated mid-lifer in 2014, Aldwin captures the zeitgeist for each period with telling accuracy.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

The success of My Name is Eva, which was my seventh attempt with a full-length novel, meant I could consider myself a ‘real writer’ and regard it as my fulltime job. Not everyone wants to write as quickly as I do, but I love scheduling time for research and meeting deadlines. My seventh novel with Bookouture is out on August 23 and I am already working on my eighth with possibly more to come.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

I think I’d have to say it was returning to Corfu to remind myself of key locations in Corfu Town for my second novel Burning Island, which deals with the expulsion of the Jewish community there in 1943. Despite several previous visits to the island I had confused the two forts in the town and needed to see the Old Fort, where the community was held in ferocious heat before their deportation to Auschwitz. I also visited Florence in search of a WW2 story and my experiences there resulted in The Girl With the Scarlet Ribbon, which I’ve been told has a powerful sense of place. But as well as travelling for research, I think my best purchase has been my standing desk. As a writer I sit down far too much and in common with friends in the writing community I suffer neck and back pains, which are eased by alternating sitting and standing.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

Because I always know what my next project is going to be, I am already reading/researching before a work in progress is completed. Where possible I like to visit locations and interview witnesses, but otherwise I will read a wide range of historical non-fiction sources to have a full grasp of the facts. But beyond the framework of dates and actual events, I am always looking for eye-witness accounts of incidents as they are always the most inspiring part of research. Research for my first novel My Name is Eva covered several years as I was trying to decide how to use information gleaned from two elderly ladies. However The Girl Without a Name covered a period of only months, although the idea had been germinating for a couple of years.

What are the ethics of writing about historical figures?

This is such an interesting question, but as I’ve usually dealt with characters on the sidelines I’ve not had to write about real individuals from history. Where I’m basing the storyline on real events and have to feature real characters from the past I often choose to create a pseudonym, to give me the freedom for invention. However, in The Woman Outside the Walls, I included the arrest of Ribbentrop, whom I named, because I had uncovered a reference to the fact that he had been found in the company of a flimsily dressed young woman in a rooming house near Hamburg’s station. I leapt upon this because I had already decided that my main character was going to have to resort to prostitution, as many women did to survive in the ruins of that city as the war came to an end.

Tell us about your novel and why you wrote about this topic?

In my latest novel, The Girl Who Never Came Back, I wanted to explore the contrasting wartime roles of two women who played very important parts in WW2. I particularly wanted to explore the feelings of someone who had been responsible for recruiting young women for the SOE. Researching this significant operation, I began to think that those closest to these recruits must have felt a huge sense of responsibility and subsequently guilt when a number of these girls never returned home. I have tried to do this with respect and sensitivity and an enormous amount of admiration for the work conducted during those extraordinary times.

What is your favourite line or passage from your own book?

In this particular book I think it would have to be ‘Once a butcher always a butcher’ which is what my SOE recruiter Sylvia thinks when she finally discovers that the man she believes murdered her missing agent has been living in plain sight for many years, running a successful Fleischerei.

What was your hardest scene to write?

That would be describing Sylvia’s visit to Dachau, two years after the camp’s liberation. I had to describe the horrors as hearsay, yet ensure the reported horrors still had a deep impact on my character.

Tell us your favourite quote and how the quote tells us something about you.

He who kisses the joy as it flies, lives in eternity’s sunrise’, from the poem Eternity by William Blake, resonates with me because I am an optimist and always look for the good in everything. I believe life is more bearable if you value the little things, like a beautiful view, a perfect rose or a kind gesture and I am mindful to give thanks at the end of each day for at least three good things.


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