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Thursday 14 June 2012

Lost in the Flames Q 4

Were you always planning to write? And was it always going to be this book?
This is actually my second manuscript – the first is called The Art of Waiting (appropriately named, as it’s still waiting). After I’d read a lot about Bomber Command, and the last airworthy Lancaster in England had flown over my house on several occasions and I’d got to know the sound of its engines, and I’d heard more anecdotes about Jackie from my grandmother – and had read A.C. Grayling’s Among the Dead Cities, in which he compares the Bomber Command airmen to the 9/11 bombers – I knew I wanted to write a book about Bomber Command. I’m not a historian, so it had to be a novel – though the first draft of the book was trying unsuccessfully (and unintentionally) to be both a novel and a history book. And I had this naïve notion that a novel might be read by people with no interest in Bomber Command, and that if they read it, they might understand why the public perception of the Bomber Command airmen has been lazy and unfair, and that I might somehow help to set the record straight. I spent the Christmas holidays in 2009 in front of the fire, drinking Hook Norton beer and listening to Magic FM, and from that I got the basic shape and sentiment of what I wanted to try to put into words. Then it was a case of trying to get that sentiment out, and I did it in a rush, long nights and weekends (and more beer and love songs) until it was done. In part it’s a tribute to Jackie and the other 55,572 who died while flying with Bomber Command, and in part it’s an attempt to try to understand for myself what he went through, to understand it by trying to re-imagine it. 

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