Q&A with Tom about Angel of Grasmere

Firstly, can you tell us a bit about Angel of Grasmere and what first inspired you to write the book?

Tom : It is set in Cumbria – known then as the English Lakes – during WW2. I had heard that – during both wars – some men hid in the mountains to avoid going to fight. I also read that there were genuine fears the Germans could invade by parachuting and landing in gliders on the higher fells. The two things came together and I started thinking what impact that would have on children who lived there then. Angel of Grasmere is the result.


How did you find striking the balance between fact and fiction when telling the story?

Tom : Normally I am very focused on basing all scenes on actual events and on the testimony of those who experiences them. This book – although based on real events that happened – is more fictional. I’d say it’s 50/50 real/fiction. It was a lot of fun to do.


The story casts a spotlight on the experiences of ordinary Cumbrian people during the early days of World War Two. What made you want to write about here during this particular period of the war? Were there any aspects that were especially important to you to show?

Tom : As wars rage today we see on TV their impact on civilians. I think – as well as showing the horrors of war in aeroplanes, the trenches and at sea – we need to understand what war does to civilians too. I hate war. I want to show how awful it is if we allow it, don’t stop it, even cause it. Civilians are suffering around the world now and I wanted to do what I could to draw from the past so we can think about the present and maybe make a better future.


How did you go about your research for the book? What was the most interesting discovery you made?

Tom : Books, films, interviewing very old people who remember the war when they were children. Museums, hikes up mountains. I even spent one night in a tent alone on top of a mountain just so I could get a sense of what my chracters might see and hear and how they would feel in such an extreme place. From all of that the most interesting thing for me was how even in a small country like ours you can walk and camp for hours and hours and not see another person and how lovely that is sometimes.

Find out more about Angel of Grasmere here

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