by Kate Lord Brown
Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Corvus (April 1, 2011)
Welcome, Kate. Thanks for talking to us about your research for your WWII historical novel, The Beauty Chorus.
Kate's post: Method Writing
Doing the research for a new book is in a lot of ways the best part. Rather like Method actors are advised to ‘walk in the shoes’ of their characters, I love immersing myself in the world of the book completely.
After the initial ‘lightbulb moment’ when I read a small obituary about a woman who had flown Spitfires during WW2, I spent months learning all I could about the incredible women of the Air Transport Auxiliary. I scoured archives and museums, read every first hand account I could of what life was like for these brave and beautiful women who came from the US, the UK, from countries all over the world to fly planes to Allied fighter stations in Britain.
I always advise my writing students to engage all their senses when they are writing. If you can let your readers feel what it is like to really be there – what you see, smell, taste, hear, touch – it brings a story to life. Writing ‘The Beauty Chorus’ I immersed myself in the world of a WW2 pilot. I went to aviation displays, walked among people in uniform re-enacting scenes. I researched the perfumes the women might have worn, smelt samples. I experimented with wartime cooking from archived cookbooks, listened to swing music and jazz standards from Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. I looked at vintage clothing, touched the fabrics, got up close to fighter planes and felt what it was like to handle them.
Hopefully all this will bring my debut novel to life. I’ve woven fact and fiction together – I hope readers will really feel they are part of this world, and that they won’t be able to spot the join between what really happened, and what I have imagined.
"New Year's Eve, 1940: Evie Chase, the beautiful debutante daughter of a rich and adoring RAF commander, listens wistfully to the swing music drifting out from the ballroom, unable to join in the fun. With bombs falling nightly in London, she is determined that the coming year will bring a lot more than dances, picnics and tennis matches. She is determined to make a difference to the war effort. 5th January, 1941: Evie curses her fashionable heels as they skid on the frozen ground of her local airfield. She is here to join the ATA, the civilian pilots who ferry Tiger Moths and Spitfires to bases across war-torn Britain. Two other women wait nervously to join up: Stella Grainger, a forlorn young mother who has returned from Singapore without her baby boy and Megan Jones, an idealistic teenager who has never left her Welsh village. Billeted together in a tiny cottage in a sleepy country village, Evie, Stella and Megan must learn to live and work together. Brave, beautiful and fiercely independent, these women soon move beyond their different backgrounds as they find romance, confront loss, and forge friendships that will last a lifetime."
About the Author: Visit Kate at http://www.katelordbrown.blogspot.com/
Kate studied Philosophy at Durham University, and Art History at the Courtauld Institute of Art. She is currently taking a Masters degree. She worked as an art consultant, curating collections for palaces and embassies in Europe and the Middle East, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. She was a finalist in UK ITV’s the People’s Author competition in 2009. Her debut novel ‘The Beauty Chorus’ is published by Corvus, Atlantic 1/4/11.
Her book is available at Amazon.UK