As well as both having strong connections with Cardiff, Evonne and I have a common interest in World War Two history, so it was the first question I asked her.
We do – although we use it in different ways. In Another You and Endless Skies the echoes of the war are wound into your stories. I write contemporary romantic suspense and my interest in the war is as an academic. My thesis for my PhD was about Cardiff Council in the Second World War – not quite as dry as it seems, honest! Everyone has probably seen pictures of air raid wardens, Anderson Shelters and Dig for Victory posters. Whitehall directed operations, but it was the local council that recruited the vast numbers of volunteers who patrolled the streets in bombing raids, distributed building material for shelters and provided allotments for people who wanted to grow their own vegetables.
Having lived and worked near Cardiff during the war, my mother would have been fascinated, and even I can remember exploring an Anderson shelter in the back garden of a house in Pencisely Road in the seventies, but how does such in-depth research balance with writing romantic novels?
My academic work is serious stuff – I finally got my doctorate earlier this year – my writing is firmly in the category of escapism, for me and for the reader. The romantic suspense genre balances a thriller element with a full-on love story and a happy ending. Some of the books I write are at the grittier end of the scale, with a high body count, but I also have a lighter series, with more emphasis on glamour and sunshine. My latest book, A Wedding on the Riviera, is one of the lighter ones, although still with its share of menace. A group of friends chase a con man to the South of France, setting up a sting. Two of them are busy falling in love, while a lavish wedding is bait to trap the thief. The wedding is over-the-top glitz. I had so much fun researching and creating it. I hope readers will have as much enjoyment in reading it.
That sounds like so much fun and presumably the research required was very different to your doctorate?
Research for the books needs to be a seamless part of the story and the internet is valuable, especially for capturing atmosphere this year, when it wasn’t possible to visit. My research for my thesis took me to archives and libraries – many hours poring over Council minutes and Government documents. It all has to be carefully recorded and referenced, so anyone coming after will know exactly what I was looking at. I had an amazing thrill in the National Archive at Kew when I found a report from a government minister about a visit to Cardiff during a bombing raid. I had no idea it existed. It’s a different kind of kick from chasing evil villains, but equally satisfying.
If you’d like to find out more about Evonne, you can follow her here: