Monday, August 11, 2014

Inspiration for Unlikely Traitors - Part I Ireland

by Clare Langley-Hawthorne

I've always been drawn to researching Irish history. There's something altogether tragic yet noble; romantic and passionate; mystical and yet violent about Ireland's past - and ever since I was a teenager asking to read Bobbie Sands poetry, it's been a source of fascination for me. When I was mulling over the plot for Unlikely Traitors I knew that Ireland would be pivotal to the story. Set as the story is in 1913, I knew that I wanted to explore this period of social and political turmoil over the issue of Home Rule for Ireland and the crisis over the fate of Ulster. The figure of James Larkin, leader of one of the largest and most militant unions in Ireland at the time, loomed large - as did the specter of war with Germany (and a potential alliance between those seeking independence for Ireland  and the Germans). 

Once I started researching the period more fully, I knew that I wanted Ireland and the issue of Home Rule to feature in Unlikely Traitors. I also wanted to engage in a bit 'what if' speculation to help mine the undercurrent of fear running through this period of crisis. When I read A.T.Q Stewart's 'The Ulster Crisis, Resistance to Home Rule 1912-1914', I knew I would be delving into a period full of intrigue. I was particularly interested in the 'arms committees' established to raise funds and gather armaments on the pro-Ulster side to resist the move to Home Rule. To what extent, I mused, were Irish republicans also obtaining armaments and how, even in 1913, would they view a possible alliance with Germany? Most of my what if musing was drawn upon what occurred once the First World War broke out and the infamous role Sir Roger Casement played...More on this in Part II.

Monday, July 28, 2014

On This Day...

A hundred years ago today, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia and the First World War began. It's incredible (as well as sad) to think of the lasting impact of this war on global politics, geography and industry. Having just returned from a trip to London I am more aware than ever of the profound impact of the events of 100 years ago - especially after visiting, once again, the Imperial War Museum (which now has a new exhibit dedicated to exploring life in the trenches during the First World War). 

When I returned to Colorado, I was inspired to re-read some of my books of poetry of the Great War. Today's anniversary reminds me of one of Rupert Brooke's early poems of 1914 entitled 'The Dead' which captures the sentimentality and patriotism of soldiers leaving for what they thought would be a 'grand war'. This is the first stanza which, I think encapsulates that mood and is all the more poignant for it.

Blow out, you bugles, over the rich Dead!
There's none of these so lonely and poor of old,
But, dying, has made us rarer gifts than gold.
These laid the world away; poured out the red
Sweet wine of youth; gave up the years to be
Of work and joy, and that unhoped serene,
That men call age; those who would have been,
Their sons, they gave, their immortality. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Way We Live Now

As we approach the 100 year anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, the debate about the enduring legacy of the war and its aftermath has already begun. As someone fascinated by the mythology of the so-called Golden Age that preceded this war, I'm just as interested in the parallels of the Edwardian era to our own as I am with the indelible impact The Great War continues to have on our own collective consciousness. 

The outbreak of war in August 1914 is, in many ways, the dividing line between the 'modern' and the 'old' era of empires, and yet it also denotes the gulf between the innocence of the 'before' and the trauma of the 'after'. In countless ways this trauma continues even today in the wars fought over boundaries and enmities established in the aftermath of the First World War. 

I've been reading with interest a number of newspaper articles on the enduring impact of the First World War and find the collective soul-searching on the anniversary of the war's outbreak, provides valuable insight into not only our own current global situation but also our understanding of the Edwardian age and its horrific descent into war. 

After reading an article in the New York Times (A War to End all Innocence) I found myself revisiting Paul Fussell's book 'The Great War and Modern Memory' and his terrific synthesis of the lasting cultural impact of the Great War. If you haven't read it I highly recommend it and his insight into the legacy of this war and its lasting impact on our society.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

New Look, New Book!

An Edwardian State of Mind has a new look in honor of the release of Unlikely Traitors, the third book in my Edwardian mystery series featuring Ursula Marlow. It's been a long time coming, but I'm thankful that readers will finally discover Lord Wrotham's fate after the unexpected twist at the end of The Serpent and The Scorpion (don't worry though, no spoilers here!)  I will be blogging here every other Monday alternating with my blog posts on The Kill Zone author blog (which I share with ten other talented mystery and thriller writers).