Guest Post by Author Rebecca M Gibson

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In honor of Veteran’s Day or Remembrance Day depending on where you’re at in the world, Historical Fiction Author Rebecca Gibson has been kind enough to write about how she gleans information and shapes it into a fascinating story.




Entering The Mind of a WWI Private

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As a Historical Fiction author I needed to get into the brain of a WW1 private for my latest novel Rubies Fall (due out on the 11th of November). So, how did I manage it?

The First World War was a deeply complex period in history that’s only recently come into the forefront of people’s awareness. Between 1914 and 1918 the war touched millions of people. Every village and town in England has a memorial with names of the deceased carved into it.

However, once the war had ended, it was discussed rarely. The early nineteen hundreds was a period of time when reputation and appearance were vitally important – trench life wasn’t exactly polite tea time conversation.

The soldiers who fought in the trenches spoke little about their experiences. PTSD (shell shock as it was known then) was rife but rarely brought up or even acknowledged…except by a few silenced soldiers. Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, from the confines of Craig Lockhart War Hospital, wrote the most famous anti-war poetry the world has ever seen. These writers were my main inspiration for Rubies Fall. I was introduced to their work in school and became obsessed. I have since devoured their poetry, biographies, letters…anything I could get my hands on.

As a result of it being the centenary of The Great War, a lot of information has been released recently. Diaries of soldiers, letters, novels have all been a vital part of my research process. Not to mention the various TV series (both fiction and factual) aired mostly on the BBC. My particular favourite was a series showing the letters and diaries of people – both men and women – experiencing the war first hand. I am interested, above all things, of personal experiences. Perhaps that’s what I’ve taken from my Psychology degree.

Additionally, the wonderful thing about the world we live in today is that we have the internet! Whilst full of terrible, shallow rubbish, the internet holds entire libraries of books and galleries of pictures. Everything on the internet must be taken with a pinch of salt, but with the click of a button, I could find out anything I needed to know. If I had a question, chances are someone’s already asked it somewhere. Just to defend myself, all internet research was backed up by more solid sources before used. However, it is undoubtedly a good spring board.

I could have skimmed the surface, of course, but that would have led to a mediocre book. Who wants to read a mediocre book? As this is a topic of personal interest to me…I visited the battlefields myself. Seeing the former battlefields of Flanders, Belgium was a humbling experience, whilst walking amongst row upon row of bone white headstones was unlike anything I could describe with words.

Fought out of our sight, we often put WW1 out of our minds as well. Seeing the real battlefields, and countless WW1 exhibitions since, has rooted my research in fact. I hope it shows in the pages of my novel.

14016258Rebecca M. Gibson grew up in Cornwall, UK, where inspiration was never hard to come by. From writing ghost stories on her mum’s computer, to completing her first novel, stories have always interested her.
Fascinated by letters and poems written in the First World War, she tries to understand the complexities of emotion and the phenomenal strength of the human mind…or at least, that’s her justification for giving her characters more than their fair share of turmoil. She studied for a Psychology Degree at Aberystwyth University, although, being a novelist has always been her dream.

Did You Know:

Rebecca is hosting a Release Party for Rubies Fall on Facebook 11/11/2016!

Click HERE to RSVP and join the fun!

You can also check out my review of her novel Diamonds Fall by clicking HERE!

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Interesting and Important Fact: 

remembrance-day-5-638   salliesflags5

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Book Review: The Gate Of Dawn by Marina J. Neary

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Wowee! I literally just finished this book and had to immediately come here to write my thoughts while they’re still fresh.

**Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an HONEST review**

The Gate of Dawn is a novel set in the city of Vilnius in the 1880’s, which is a melting pot of Russians, Germans, Poles, and Jews; all trying to get ahead. The story is centered around Renate Lichtner, a 15 year old art student and heiress to a textile fortune.  Renate lives a life of privilege and her only concerns are her father and her art. Due to a tragic and fatal accident, her father dies and seals her fate with a bizarre deathbed contract.

He promises his beloved daughter to Thaddeus a widowed Polish landowner who fancies himself a man of the people and spends his days in the trenches with his field workers. His world and values are the complete opposite of Renate’s.  Having no say in the matter, Renate finds herself isolated and alienated on her new husband’s crumbling estate.

Eventually, after a few events, she manages to return to Vilnius and her former lover. While Renate is trying to forget her new home, her husband’s loyal servants scheme behind her back and develop wild  and dark fantasies about her.  Ultimately this book is a tale of dark plots and old folklore twisted to suit the minds of those out for vengeance.

This story reminded me of a twisted and gender flipped Cinderella.  Renate is the wealthy princess married off to poor peasant.  It’s like a look into the epilogue of the fairy tale we all know and love. Neary also has a complex and extremely well fleshed out cast of characters.  I found myself interested in ALL of their stories and felt like all of her characters were important and not just mere sidekicks.

Neary is an excellent writer.  She has a dark sense of humor which I appreciate and it comes out in her writing.  While this isn’t a comedy, I found myself smiling as much as I grimaced.

“Her latest novel, “The Gate Of Dawn” is set in 19th century Lithuania, the land of her paternal ancestors. The gruesome events described in the novel took place in her ancestral estate on the border of Lithuania and what is now northwestern Belarus” ( Source: The Gate Of Dawn in the About The Author Section)

I read that tidbit and my eyes bulged out of my head, granted my eyes are a bit bulgy anyway but, this time they were even more bulgier. Honestly, how does this not make the story you just ingested even more interesting? Seriously, still digesting that part.  I gladly give this book a 5 out of 5 Stars! I would recommend it those who enjoy Horror, Historical, and those who prefer novels on the darker side.  I loved it. It has some gruesome acts and some sexual content, but nothing too graphic so I would feel comfortable PERSONALLY letting older teens read this; say 15 and up.

Another book of Neary’s is Saved By The Bang, which is a satirical autobiographical account of her childhood. She grew up near Chernobyl and was there during the nuclear catastrophe. ….Read my review of that one HERE .

The Gates of Dawn are available on all the major online retailers and through Penmore Press

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

The Gate of Dawn located in the City Of Vilnius in BelarusGate_of_Dawn_Exterior,_Vilnius,_Lithuania_-_Diliff

Review: Saved By The Bang by M.J. Neary

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Saved By The Bang, is described as a “Nuclear Comedy” or a Dystopian Novel.  I feel like the former is adept at describing this dark masterpiece.  Saved By The Bang transports us to Gomel, Belarus in the 1980’s just prior to the Chernobyl Disaster.  It centers on the Olenski family, prominent classical musicians and their daughter, Maryana.  Neary takes us on a haunting and sometimes dark journey through the Soviet Union when it’s about to explode (figuratively and literally).

Told mostly through the eyes of Antonia Olenski, the matriarch and Maryana, the book feels like a Soap Opera of the best kind.  Antonia is a true Diva and reigns as Queen of her domain at the conservatory. A health scare and the nuclear disaster of Chernobyl force her to flee to the Crimean for a summer and thus ends her reign.  She spends the rest of her time trying to figure out how to regain her throne.  Maryana is an awkward girl of 8 years old and is bullied by nearly everyone.  She doesn’t wallow in it, she accepts it and thrives.  She also gets really good at manipulating her father into getting her some great prizes in order to stay quiet about his “shenanigans”.  The misadventures of the family continues throughout the decades and into the new millennium and covers eastern Europe and the United States.

While reading this story I found myself crying, laughing, and gasping; sometimes all in the same paragraph! I rooted for Maryana, tsk-tsked at her parents and grinned like a fool at the escapades everyone got up to.  Even though it’s categorized as Dystopian and it’s fiction; I found it to be more of a coming of age novel.  It read and felt very much like something from Frank McCourt or Jeanette Walls.  I absolutely give this a 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for fans of Historical Fiction, Coming Of Age Literature, and Soap Opera Fans ;).  If you like Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt or The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls then you must read this book!

Technically speaking the editing is good with very few errors (and this was an ARC copy) and the writer’s voice is polished and speaks with authority on the subject (which she should since she is writing about her hometown).  At times I found it hard to believe it the characters were fiction.  I would also advise that it’s NOT YA, a MATURE Audience is recommended.

I loved this book and I sincerely hope my readers enjoy it as well! Saved By The Bang is available on Amazon,Barnes and Noble, and other online retailers.

***Just Spoke With The Author- MJ Neary just informed me that this piece is autobiographical…which makes it even better!***

 

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