Lizzie Lane talks about what it means to have a head full of fantasies.
Here I am, sitting in the cockpit of my boat, which is also my home, thinking about what I write, where I write and even why I write.
WHAT I WRITE
I’ve always thought I did write about what I know, most specifically World War II.
I’ve set many stories against that fretful and frightful period based on to a great extent on my mother’s recollections. There were sad stories she told and a lot that made me laugh out loud. I thought I knew a great deal about my subject until I heard about the wholesale massacre of household pets in the first week of war.
Dogs, cats and other animals were euthanized in thousands, approximately 350,000 in the first week, thanks to advice from the Ministry of Security. Against this background I wrote War Orphans, the story of people who cared about a dog who was rescued.
I love dogs. I don’t dislike cats either but as a child I was never allowed to have either. Horses were my other love but there was precious little room in the back garden of a council house to keep one. And money was tight. For me the joy of a one hour riding lesson was only possible after I’d collected enough old clothes and moth eaten blankets to take to the rag and bone man and received the princely sum of 7/6d, just enough for an hour’s riding lesson.
I know a bit about horses, but not so much as I know about dogs though I didn’t own one until my mid twenties. Originally destined to be only a pet, my Irish red setter opened up a different world for me.
In my eyes he was the handsomest Irish Red Setter ever. In actuality he was far from being top drawer but I only discovered this when I owned other more highly bred animals and became more and more successful in the dog showing world.
In time I trained dogs, bred them, showed them and judged them. I knew everything about them, or at least more than I did than before I owned dogs.
As time went on I lost interest in the show world and turned my attention to rescue dogs. I gave a home to an Alsatian, (German Shepherd Dog) and when he went I rescued another.
When my editor at Ebury asked me if I knew anything about dogs, it hit me. I would be writing about what I knew!
WHERE I WRITE
I write anywhere and with anything and at any time. I can’t help myself. I might get up early in the morning and write, or those last two hours before dinner. If the former I award myself with a decent breakfast. If the latter it’s a vodka and tonic please!
Neither do I need to sit in a well-appointed office in a comfortable chair surrounded by well-ordered files outlining my story or giving beef to my characters. All that matters is taking the story to its next level, striking while the iron is hot.
WHY I WRITE
I think the straight answer to this is because I can’t help myself. I have always possessed a head full of fantasies. What that means is that I am always the hero/heroine in some far-fetched day dream that would have to stay in my head if I couldn’t pick up a pen and put it down on paper or type it onto a computer.
The most amazing thing is that I get paid for telling stories! How amazing is that? It’s something I’ve always been able to do and thought everyone else could do it too. A friend of mine copy-edits for some world-famous authors. When asked why she didn’t write a book herself, she simply said, ‘because I haven’t got the imagination, and I greatly admire the people who do.’
As my father would have said, if you do a job you love doing, you’ll never do a day’s work in your life. Dad, you were right.
“If at all possible, send or take your household animals into the country in advance of an emergency. If you cannot place them in the care of neighbours, it really is kindest to have them destroyed.”
Joanna Ryan’s father has gone off to war, leaving her in the care of her step-mother, a woman more concerned with having a good time than being any sort of parent to her.
But then she finds a puppy, left for dead, and Joanna’s becomes determined to save him, sharing her meagre rations with him. But, in a time of war, pets are only seen as an unnecesary burden and she is forced to hide her new friend, Harry from her step-mother and the authorities. With bombs falling over Bristol and with the prospect of evacuation on the horizon can they keep stay together and keep each other safe?
Lizzie Lane was born and brought up in one of the toughest areas of Bristol, the eldest of three siblings. Besides showing and breeding dogs, she ran dog training classes and even presided as a dog show judge. It’s from this background and knowing dogs so well that she is now including them in her books.