Writing a novel is one thing: launching it onto an unsuspecting world is something else altogether; and these are moments filled with a mild sense of panic, not to mention nervousness and nail-biting anxiety.
The questions one asks oneself (probably in common with almost every debut novelist) are: what will everyone think of my novel – will they hate it or love it… or something in between; will people even buy it?
Following the launch of my novel last Friday, and in an effort to put these fears to the back of my mind, I have started to focus on the next book: the sequel to Light and Darkness, entitled Earth and Heaven. In this novel, Harry’s story moves forward to the Second World War and, without giving too much away, most of the characters from Light and Darkness reappear in some shape or form.
A great deal of my time now is spent researching various aspects of World War Two, from life on the home front – where the book is mainly set – to the trials and tribulations of an RAF fighter pilot. Anyone who knows me will say that the Second World War is not really my “thing”. I’m much more at home writing about pretty much any aspect of the First World War, so my research will no doubt need to be extensive and time-consuming.
One thing which I am prepared to give away, however, is the inspiration behind the title. Earth and Heaven (like Light and Darkness) is the title of a poem. While Light and Darkness was a First World War poem, Earth and Heaven was written just before the beginning of the Second World War, but its author was (and is) much more famous for his writings about the earlier conflict. He has always been my literary hero and I make no apology for reproducing his poem here:
Earth and Heaven by Siegfried Sassoon
What harmonies of earth are heard in heaven?…
If heaven there be, it is not strange nor far;
Much nearer is it than the morning star,
And human as our hearts which die forgiven.
O if there be that other world, that grace
Of souls redeemed, we breathe it like the air;
And angels are about us everywhere
In love’s good deeds, in life’s transfigured face.
[Poetry can mean anything you want it to, within reason, but to me that poem means that “heaven” exists on earth, in the human capacity to forgive, to redeem, to sympathise and – above all – to love.]