Laura guest reviewed The Spark Girl in June on the blog and today, author Fiona Ford is in my hot seat filling us in on her inspiration, the scene she found the hardest to write, her research and much more. Don’t miss the paperback publication on 24th August!
Fiona Ford is a freelance journalist. She has spent the last 15 years writing gritty real-life stories, news and a smidgeon of celebrity tittle-tattle for national newspapers and magazines. Following a stint as a ghost writer, Fiona plucked up the courage to combine her love of writing and history to write a novel in her own name. The Spark Girl, is her first saga.
Originally from Bath, Fiona now lives in Berkshire and is married with two cats. Thankfully, both her husband and pets have all mastered the art of pretending to listen patiently as she begins yet another anecdote with the words, ‘during the war’. When she is not writing or researching World War 2, Fiona can be found running along the Thames Path, training for a half marathon of some kind and wishing she was sat on the sofa eating chocolate instead.
Connect with Fiona Ford
Welcome to Jera’s Jamboree.
Please summarise The Spark Girl in 20 words or less.
Kitty loses the love of her life and joins the women’s Army in 1940 to fight danger and save herself.
What was the idea/inspiration for your novel?
Funnily enough, it was a picture of The Queen standing next to an army truck during wartime. I knew she was a driver for the army and I wondered what life was like for ordinary women who were military drivers and quickly discovered it was fraught with danger.
If you could choose to be one of your characters, who would you be Fiona?
I would have to say Kitty because she is someone who really grows over the course of the book, something we should all try to do in life, no matter how hard it maybe. She meets life head on and doesn’t shy away from a challenge – something I wish I could do.
You can give your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book … what would it be?
Be careful who you buy your meat from!
What scene was the hardest to write Fiona?
I don’t want to give away any spoilers but there’s a certain scene with Kitty and Elsie towards the end of the book that really had me crying my eyes out as I was writing. I felt emotionally drained after I had written it as I had reached into my soul, pulled out my own personal pain and hurt and felt bereft afterwards. A glass of wine was needed let’s just say. That said I would like to point out this isn’t a book filled with misery! There are a lot of light-hearted moments as well that I’m told I had my editor roaring with laughter so a box of tissues does not need to be purchased with every book.
Did you do any research? What resources did you use?
I did so much research that I practically lived in the Imperial War Museum and Coventry for a time. I spoke to many women who had served as drivers in the army, read diaries, journals, letters and scrapbooks and spent a lot of time talking to those who remember first-hand the Coventry blitz.
If your novel is part of a series, what’s in the future?
Yes The Spark Girl is part of a series and I am just finishing Book two, The Spark Girl’s Promise which sees us look in on Peggy who we meet in book one, facing danger in Swansea. It will be out in hardback during the spring of 2018.
Which authors have influenced your writing?
So many. I am a huge fan of historical fiction and devour pretty much anything within the genre. I adore Rosanna Ley, Kate Thompson, Victoria Hislop, Elaine Everest, Annie Groves and more recently Nancy Revell.
Do you have a favourite book?
I adored The Island, by Victoria Hislop, I think if I had to pick a favourite it would be that one. The historical detail and description is so perfect you feel that you are truly living in that time and every turn of the page is a step closer to history, all the while you have great characters you’re rooting for every step of the way – it’s just perfect.
Finally Fiona, what has been the best part of your writing journey so far?
The thing I enjoy the most has to be getting inside the characters heads as I write. When they feel pain, so do I. When they feel joy so do I. When they laugh so do I. It’s an utter privilege to spend your time writing and creating human emotion, playing puppeteer with characters lives, I just adore putting myself out there and trying to come up with characters and situations readers want to spend time with.
Thank you for being my guest today.
Wishing you success with all your writing projects Fiona.
A knock on the door early one morning wouldn’t normally be cause for concern but it is 1941, Britain is at war, and Kitty Williams’s fiancé Joe is far from home fighting Hitler with the Navy. As Kitty’s heart is shattered into pieces hearing the news she had been dreading, resolve kicks in and she becomes more determined than ever to do her bit for the war effort.
Signing up to the Women’s Army is just the sort of challenge Kitty needs and on meeting new recruits Mary, Di and Peggy, she is happy to learn that the challenge won’t be a lonely one. But it also won’t be easy and when bombs start to fall on her home town of Coventry, and supposed allies turn against her, Kitty must find the strength she never knew she had to save her family, fix her broken heart and help her country to victory.
The Spark Girl is an absorbing and poignant saga, perfect for fans of Daisy Styles, Kate Thompson and Ellie Dean.