I didn’t dream as a self-published author that “None Stood Taller” would become a bestseller. It has enjoyed success beyond my wildest imagination. I thank everyone who helped to make that possible, and of course I thank you, the reader. It all started with a simple idea: take a woman from the East End of London, leave her with nothing when her home is destroyed during the Blitz in 1941, and then send her out to find her way in war-torn Britain. That was when I realised it wasn’t my character Lily who had to find her way in war-torn Britain – it was me!
During my research I found many extraordinary people who did extraordinary things. People such as Vera Atkins, who contributed so much towards setting up and running Section F of the SOE. Joan Bright had a similar influence, running the secret intelligence centre in the Cabinet War Rooms under Winston Churchill. I can’t take the credit for my character Lily Heywood; she already existed in those women. Lily owes more to Vera Atkins than she does to me.
The same can be said for my character Dotty. I have dedicated this book to the thirty-nine women served in Occupied France as SOE field agents. Dotty owes more to those thirty-nine than anything in my imagination. Her SOE operations in Occupied France and Germany may be fictitious, but the details of those operations are grounded in historical record and reality, as are the details of her extensive training. I have dedicated this book to those thirty-nine brave women.
If there is a single reason for the success of these books, it is that readers connect with the characters. I effectively lived the lives of these people; in many ways I feel that I was there with them! These books are the result of that shared experience. I can’t begin to tell you how gratifying it is when readers tell me they have shared that same experience. This is what makes it all worthwhile.
Writing would be nothing without you, dear reader, I couldn’t continue without your support. Your comments and reviews are my lifeblood. Now I must move on and find another Lily, or Dotty, another historical context, another story. This is an immensely hard act to follow. I hope you will join me on that journey.