Wednesday, February 8, 2017

June Gadsy - Getting Inspiration

Getting inspiration for a book has never been a problem for me as a writer. Ideas just pop into my head, not as whole stories, but as words, phrases and music overheard. I could be anywhere, doing anything. On this occasion, I was doing the ironing, struggling to think how I could write a story that my mother would enjoy – so far she hadn’t liked anything, once to the extent of saying after a few pages that it was ‘disgusting’ – I had used some swear words that she didn’t approve of. Our relationship had been difficult since I was fifteen years old, but I still wanted to do something that would make her proud of me instead of the “you’re no daughter of mine” attitude and constant criticism because I was not made in the same mould as she was. But miracles happen when you least expect them and that day, wielding the hot iron a song on the radio gave me what was to be the answer to my prayer. Very Lynn was singing her famous war song, “There’ll be Blue Birds Over the White Cliffs of Dover….tomorrow just you wait and see… And there I had my inspiration for When Tomorrow Comes – title and family war saga all rolled into one. 

 Of course, at that time, I was still a struggling wannabe writer with nothing but a few travel articles, nostalgic pieces, three radio short stories and one novel [The Iron Master] published. Heroine Hildie immediately jumped into my mind, together with her family and all their problems that would take them through the second world war – forbidden love, incest, sons on the battlefields, betrayal by her best friend – and she got through it somehow, always with a positive attitude and a smile on her face. I even used characters based on family members, mainly my grandparents and my incredible three maiden aunts. One of the latter, called Effie in the story, was my particular favourite, but the local minister, having read the book, frowned over what I had done with her unforgettable character.

I presented the finished book to my mother and held my breath – then miracle of all miracles, she loved it. Shortly after, it was published and my then agent [the late Bob Tanner] claimed it was the best thing I had ever written. My relationship with my mother continued, however, to be ‘complicated’, but she was known to proudly announce to everyone she met that her daughter was an “authoress” – her word for it, but much better than telling people that I had a “nice little hobby”.

Thank you Books We Love for resurrecting Hildie and family in paperback and e-book. Of all the books I’ve written, this remains to this day, my favourite.