Categories
Historical Fiction Short stories

The Unofficial Truce of Christmas 1914

World War I soldiers - National Archives
World War I soldiers – National Archives

As Christmas approaches, we’re moving to the end of the Historical Writers Forum December Blog Hop. This has included a lot of fascinating posts by fellow historical fiction writers on the theme of Christmas in past times.

Today, it’s my turn, and I’m focusing on one of the strangest happenings during World War I.

“There, the night before we had been having a terrific battle and the morning after, there we were smoking their cigarettes and they smoking ours.” This was the slightly bemused verdict of a British Tommy on one of the most extraordinary and poignant events of World War I: the Christmas truce of 1914. Up and down the lines on the Western Front, men from both sides clambered from their trenches and laid aside their countries’ differences for a short time.

Categories
France Historical Fiction

Going to War in 1914: French People’s Reactions to Mobilisation

This weekend marks the outbreak of World War I, 105 years ago in 1914. On 2nd August the French government issued the general mobilisation order. The following day, Germany declared war on France. On 4th August, Britain in turn declared war on Germany. The stage was set for one of the bloodiest – and most futile – conflicts in history. To mark the occasion, I’m publishing below an excerpt from near the end of my latest novel, Overture, when the main characters hear the tocsin alerting the villagers to the general mobilisation.

Categories
France Historical Fiction Short stories

Eleven o’clock on the eleventh day of the eleventh month

 

Poppies

“But now, for the first time, I see you are a man like me. I thought of your hand-grenades, of your bayonet, of your rifle; now I see your wife and your face and our fellowship. Forgive me, comrade. We always see it too late. Why do they never tell us that you are poor devils like us, that your mothers are just as anxious as ours, and that we have the same fear of death, and the same dying and the same agony–Forgive me, comrade; how could you be my enemy?”

Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front

“We stood around for a bit, smoking and taking the occasional pull from the bottle. A couple of their men spoke English but no one said much. We were just a group of lads hanging about. We could have been anywhere. That’s what struck me. These Fritzes were ordinary people with parents, sisters, brothers, wives, sweethearts back home. Just like us. Exchange uniforms and you wouldn’t have noticed the difference. And yet up till now we’d been trying to thump each other into the ground. It made me think.”

‘Bertie’s Buttons’, short story in French Collection: Twelve Short Stories

Copyright © Vanessa Couchman 2018, all rights reserved.

Categories
Corsica Historical Fiction Uncategorized

Happy Birthday, Zaronza! Win a Signed Copy to Celebrate

Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 8.45.03 AM

My first novel, The House at Zaronza, is four years old and to celebrate I have one signed paperback copy to award to a lucky winner. Read on to find out how to enter.

Categories
Corsica Historical Fiction

New Horizons: Tales of Corsica

The House of Zaronza Cover LARGE EBOOK

April will see the reissue of The House at Zaronza, my novel set in early 20th-century Corsica and at the Western Front during World War I. It was first published by Crooked Cat Books in 2014, and I’m eternally grateful to them for taking me on and for everything I have learned in the process. They tell me it was their 4th bestselling eBook and I’m pleased and proud that it did so well in its first edition.

Categories
Events Novels

Post-Christmas Sale of Kindle Books

CC sale

If you have a new Kindle or some Amazon gift vouchers or want to stock up your old Kindle to see you through those long winter evenings, now is your chance to buy some e-books at bargain prices. My publisher, Crooked Cat, has a sale of Kindle books on from today (27th December) until 29th December. Many titles are reduced to 99p/99¢ or equivalent across the Amazon stores.

Zaronza promo

This includes my novel The House at Zaronza, set on early 20th-century Corsica and at the Western Front during WWI. You can get a little taste of this stunning Mediterranean island – or a foretaste if you’re going on holiday there next year.

Saint-Florent, Corsica
Saint-Florent at the base of Cap Corse

Just go to your Amazon store and type Crooked Cat Books into the search box. You’ll find a range of genres, including thrillers, crime, chicklit, romance, historical, humour and paranormal.

The sale is on for only three days, so don’t delay.

You might also like:

Short Stories Inspired by France 
Views of Corsica
Why Corsica Should Be a Happy Hunting Ground for Authors

Copyright © Vanessa Couchman 2017, all rights reserved

Categories
Historical Fiction Short stories

True Inspiration for Fiction #5: the Ghosts of World War I

Armistice Day 2

At 11 am on this day in 1918, the guns fell silent on the Western Front. Ninety-nine years later, none of the combatants in that terrible war is alive, but the memories still echo down the years. In France, where I live, the smallest village has its war memorial. Often, several men with the same surname appear in the list: death cut a swathe through many families. Few were unaffected.

Categories
France Historical Fiction

True Inspiration for Fiction #4: Angel Makers

Thiézac Village
Angel makers practised their trade in cities as well as isolated rural villages

In most Western nations, the practice of backstreet abortion has virtually disappeared now that abortion has been legalised. I don’t intend to open a debate here about the moral issues, but rather to look at the historical background, especially in France.

Categories
Historical Fiction Short stories

True Inspiration for Fiction #1: the Christmas Truce 1914

World War I soldiers - National Archives
World War I soldiers – National Archives

“There, the night before we had been having a terrific battle and the morning after, there we were smoking their cigarettes and they smoking ours.” This was the slightly bemused verdict of a British Tommy on one of the most extraordinary and poignant events of World War I: the Christmas truce of 1914. Up and down the lines on the Western Front, men from both sides stepped from their trenches and laid aside their countries’ differences for a short time.

Categories
Corsica Historical Fiction

My Main Character Has Her Say…

The Corsican landscape Maria loves so much

When you’ve spent months, or even years, with your characters they somehow take on a surprising reality and a life of their own. I felt a bit empty when I typed ‘The End’ to The House at Zaronza since  I had become very fond of my main character, Maria Orsini.