|A girl plays with a doll in Rhiems, 1917|
All the photos in this post are contemporary. None have been colourised. They were taken in colour between 1915 and 1917.
So it turns out that my NaNo effort is mainly focussed on the war that I created for William to grow up in. When I originally concieved of it I had intended that war to play a relatively minor role in the plot. It was there, as in Hitler: the Rise of Evil to provide a backdrop to some minor characterisation and to provide a defeat for the country that William hails from. More to the point, I'm not a fan of novels about war.
No, wait, scratch that.
|German soldiers in the ruins of a village in the Somme, 1916|
That said, I have read some other books that do a better job. One Spring in Picardy was such a book, as was The Middle Parts of Fortune. Both of these are First World War novels, the latter was written by someone who served in the First World War and the former by a man whose father served and whose uncles all served too. Basically, they knew their stuff. I get the impression that the other authors don't.
What makes me rant so? Simply put - I am a student of the First World War. It occurs to me that what I know of Hitler's experience in the First World War does not gel well with representations that I have seen on screen. Equally, the experiences in All Quiet on the Western Front and the various adaptations do not always fit with what I know from other sources. I remember reading Tony Ashworth's book on trench culture and the letters in books like War of Words and Somme and being completely bowled over by what people said at the time. Lyn MacDonald's excellent series of interviews, though heavily tainted by her own views and the established ideas of AJP Taylor, were magnificent for me as they contextualised a war primarily from the view of those that fought in it.
|German soldiers in a well-revetted trench, 1915|
|Rations in a French communication trench, 1917|
All of this has clearly been brewing for much longer than I thought. Which was why, when the time came, I ended up writing over 40k words on the First World War analogue in my story. Because the record needed to be set straight. Because such a conflict deserved more than to be a vehicle for the rise of one character. Because wars are what they are and they need their own space to be fully appreciated for what they are. I did not want my novel to become a war novel. I have no direct experience of any such thing, nor can I piggy-back on anyone I know who does have experience. But, oddly, I could draw on my own experiences to write it.
Which is why, when the time comes, my novel must be published under a female name. I want the novel to bring the war to life in the same way as these colour images do and to do so in a way that surprises people. So, no, I shan't be publishing under a male name to get readers. My concept is served best by publishing as a female.