You may remember that a few weeks ago, I dusted down the work surfaces and cleaned all the windows of this blog, ready to receive a guest visit from my friend Tim Atkinson, author, blogger ( over at Bringing up Charlie) and all round good egg.
Tim is writing a book. What’s more he’s writing it using the innovative publishers Unbound, who you may know as the publishers of the runaway successes, Letters of Note and Lists of Note, amongst other titles.
Unbound have an unconventional way of going about publishing their books. It is an exciting new departure in terms of publishing, and as a reader who likes to get really involved in what I read, their championing of the author at every stage of writing and the fact that you, as a reader can access all those stages of writing if you pledge to support an author, is a thing worthy of celebration, and support.
Last time he was here, Tim explained how Unbound works. Today he’s back to talk about his novel, The Glorious Dead. It’s a book and an author I believe in. I’ve happily pledged, and I hope you do too.
Over to Tim.
Last time I was here I was telling you all about Unbound – a revolutionary new way of publishing (and one that gives power back to the reader) and why I decided to sign my latest book to them. What I didn’t tell you was much about the book itself. So Katy has invited me back today to talk about just that.The Glorious Dead is a novel about the Great War. But it’s a a war book with a difference because the action only starts when the guns stop firing. Although it’s set on the Great War battlefields, there are no longer any battles (other than those against the mud, mayhem and memories in the immediate aftermath of the conflict).The story follows the work of a small group of men retrieving and burying bodies, clearing the debris but most importantly rebuilding their own lives amid the ruins of the war they’ve just fought. One, Jack Patterson, suffers from what would now be regarded as post-traumatic stress disorder. But in his case the trauma predates the war and is hidden in his past – only emerging when a visitor to the battlefield cemeteries arrives… in search of Jack’s own grave.The novel is different in another way, too – because the main characters aren’t officers. I was quite determined about that. The assumption in much Great War literature seems to be that only officers are sufficiently literate or psychologically complex to communicate the author’s ideas or hold the reader’s interest. ‘Other ranks’ are often little more than caricatures, talking in cliches and sub-literary parody voices. (Think Birdsong; think Sherston’s Progress; even think Regeneration – one of my all-time favourites – whose working-class hero Billy Prior nevertheless has a commission).So Jack is a private (later corporal) but certainly not an officer. The others in the company represent the more traditional view of the other ranks, but only to emphasise Jack’s complex personality. It’s a complexity he struggles to articulate, sure. His faltering attempts to speak Flemish indicate a desperation to make himself better understood – or maybe, to understand himself better. But the book is a deliberate attempt to give voice to an often under-represented group of men.It’s also an attempt to shed light on a woefully neglected period in our history. Almost all books on the war end with the Armistice. A few mention the Paris Peace Conference and the Treaty of Versailles (which marked the official end of the Great War – hence the dates 1914-1919 on so many memorials and monuments). But there’s very little about the three years – 1918 to 1921 during which thousands of men remained in France and Flanders as members of an army no longer at war, but trying hard restore a fragile peace. In the case of men like Jack, that involved finding and laying to rest the thousands of bodies abandoned in the head-long rush for victory as the war suddenly and dramatically came to a close in late 1918.You can find out more about the book – and read an extract – on the Unbound website and I hope you will. I also hope you’ll feel sufficiently intrigued to pre-order (or pledge support for) the book. Because with Unbound, it’s readers who decide what gets written. And I really need your help to be able to tell the story of the Great War’s forgotten men.