Thursday, 3 October 2013

GUEST POST: 'Why I wrote Cross My Heart' by Carmen Reid

How far would you go for freedom?

Would you lie to your family? Break up with your best friend? Follow the boy you love into danger?

Would you risk your life?

It's 1940. Europe is at war, and fifteen-year-old Nicole's city has been invaded by the Nazis. Desperate but determined, she joins a secret group of freedom fighters - and learns that she's not too young to fire a gun, plant a bomb, face capture, torture and heartbreak, or put her life on the line.

I've written many books for grown ups and for teenagers in the chick lit vein and yes, although these books all have their dark and serious moments, they're generally quite light-hearted with plenty of laughs and happy endings.

So Cross My Heart with it's World War Two setting, torture and work camp scenes is pretty different.
All I can tell you is that I was just longing to write this story. I've always been fascinated by WW2. Half my family is German, half is British, so they experienced both sides of the war.

I always wanted to know more about what it was really like to be alive at that time and to endure such difficult circumstances.

What was Germany like back then? What was it like to live in a country occupied by the Nazis?

When I found out that young teenage girls were a very important part of the secret armies plotting against the Nazis, I just knew I had to discover more.

So that's how Cross My Heart was born.

Nicole goes from lookout to fully fledged bomber in a short space of time. She has to make difficult choices with terrible consequences and I wanted the violence in the book to feel real and frightening, not at all cartoon-ish.

I loved doing the research: the story is packed with intriguing details I could never have made up - the woman who pushed explosives through checkpoints in her baby's pram, the way you help a plane land in a field with a torch, how two young girls used to defeat their hunger in a concentration camp, how an old fashioned bomb detonator works…

I was intrigued to learn that so many girls were involved in the Resistance. I suspect girls have been involved in war for much longer than we imagine.

I really hope you'll give Cross My Heart a whirl, you'll love it and you'll learn something really interesting. It's very scary. And quite weepy. And also - sigh - very romantic.

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