Thursday 20 February 2020

Join me in Conversation with #HistoricalFiction author, Deborah Swift #interview #WW2 @swiftstory @SapereBooks

A Conversation with Historical Fiction author,
Deborah Swift

Please give a warm Coffee Pot welcome to one of my favourite Historical Fiction authors, Deborah Swift.

MA: Deborah, it is so lovely for you to join us today. Before we begin, could you please introduce yourself.

DS: I live in the north of England, close to the mountains and the sea. I write from a tall stone house that used to be an old school in a village full of seventeenth century houses. The two eras I like to write about the most are the seventeenth century, which was a period of great political upheaval in English history, and World War Two. My newest novel is set in WW2, and is about the occupation of Jersey, the only part of the British Isles to be occupied by the Nazis.

Liberation of Jersey 1945.

I was so excited to see that you had set your next book in occupied Jersey. I have fond memories of holidaying on the Channel Islands when I was a child. What inspired you to write The Occupation?

I found an article online about Hedwig Bercu, a Jewish woman who was hidden by her friend Dorothea Weber during the German occupation of the Channel Islands. It piqued my interest and I wrote it initially as a short story which appeared in an anthology called The Darkest Hour, with a fictional protagonist called Celine. The anthology did well, and hit the USA Today bestseller list, which was great. But the story wouldn’t let me go, and I found myself fascinated by Celine’s husband Fred, who had been conscripted into the German army at the beginning of the story. It occurred to me I could expand the story into a much bigger, more resonant novel, telling both sides of the occupation.

MA: There were some fantastic short reads in The Darkest Hour, but The Occupation was one of my favourites. How did you come up with your setting and your characters?

DS: Jersey is unique in that it was a tourist haven and never expected to be invaded. In fact it was totally undefended as the young men of fighting age had been mobilised elsewhere. One minute the locals were serving ice cream to tourists, the next they were forced to serve the German army and be paid in Reichsmarks. It must have been quite a shock. I thought it would be interesting to have a married couple, one of whom was German, and one born in Jersey. Where would their loyalties lie?

Jews queueing for evacuation on Jersey.

MA: It must have been a terrible shock. It isn't very easy to imagine what that must have been like. 

Can you tell us three things that set your novel apart from the other historical fiction books out there?

DS: When I began this book, there were no other WW2 novels set on Jersey, although now I think there are one or two more as interest in the Channel Islands in wartime has grown. This novel is unique in that it tells the story from the point of view of Celine, on the occupied island of Jersey, and Siegfried (known as Fred) who must be part of the occupying army in Paris.

MA: One last question. Can you tell us what you are currently working on?

DS: I’m working on another WW2 novel, this time set in Scotland. But the idea is under wraps for now, until the first draft is done!

MA: Thank you so much, Deborah, for taking time out of your day to chat to us today. If you would like to learn more about Deborah’s fabulous new book, then you know what to do. Scroll Down!

The Occupation
By Deborah Swift

One woman’s secret war against the Nazis.
 One man’s war against himself…
1940, Jersey

When Nazi forces occupy Jersey in the English Channel Islands, Céline Huber, who is married to a German, must decide where her loyalty lies. Love for her island, and fear for her Jewish friend Rachel, soon propel her into a dangerous double life.

Meanwhile, Céline’s husband Fred is conscripted into the Wehrmacht in occupied France. Horrified by Nazi acts of atrocity and torture, he soon becomes a double agent for the French Resistance. But when things go wrong, and his Nazi masters discover his true allegiance, he finds he has the whole of the German Army on his tail.

How far will Céline go for her best friend? Will Fred make his way home to her, or will their lives be changed forever by the brutality of war?

Pick up your copy of
The Occupation

Deborah Swift

Deborah Swift is the author of three previous historical novels for adults, The Lady’s Slipper, The Gilded Lily, and A Divided Inheritance, all published by Macmillan/St Martin’s Press, as well as the Highway Trilogy for teens (and anyone young at heart!). Her first novel was shortlisted for the Impress prize for new novelists.

She lives on the edge of the beautiful and literary English Lake District – a place made famous by the poets Wordsworth and Coleridge.

Connect with Deborah: Website • Facebook • Twitter • Goodreads.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely interview! I live in Jersey and my mother and her family lived through the Occupation so I definitely want to read this one.


See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx