17 September 2012

Mary Tod

Today's Conference Guest  

Exactly who is Mary Tod?

Well, if I knew the answer to that, life would be boring, wouldn’t it? The easy response is that I’m a writer, wife, mother, friend, family member, volunteer, and former business executive.
And the more complicated response? When your grandmother dies of a heart attack on the way to her second wedding, you know there’s a story to be told. So, while living in Hong Kong as a ‘trailing spouse’ with lots of time on my hands, I began researching the era of my grandparents and found a new passion wrapped up in WWI historical fiction. A woman who hated history in school became obsessed with battle strategy, the life of WWI soldiers and how they and their families coped both during and after war.

That spark morphed into two characters, Edward and Ann Jamieson, and a story spanning both world wars with love affairs, tragic circumstances and espionage. The novel is titled Unravelled. When I gave up my business career, a second novel followed: a coming-of-age story, which begins in 1913 Paris and offers its own dramatic twists and turns. I am delighted to report that this novel, Lies Told in Silence, has found an agent.

I knew that if I hoped to be published I would need to understand the industry. Two years ago I began One Writer’s Voice (www.onewritersvoice.com) to explore the notion of author-entrepreneur along with dramatic changes occurring in the industry. Last February, based on advice from a well-known blogger, I began A Writer of History (www.awriterofhistory.com) in order to deepen my connections with the historical fiction community. As a first step, I decided to conduct a survey of historical fiction readers and, to my surprise, reached eight hundred participants from different parts of the world. Survey results and insights have garnered a lot of interest for which I am very grateful.

The survey also led me to the distinct pleasure of hosting interviews with top ranked historical fiction authors: Helen Hollick, Hilary Mantel, Sharon Kay Penman, C. W. Gortner, Elizabeth Chadwick, Deanna Raybourn, Susan Higginbotham, Michelle Moran and Margaret George. Sarah Johnson of Reading the Past (www.readingthepast.com) was instrumental in connecting me to HNS and this conference.

I am truly honoured to speak alongside Emma Darwin, Harry Sidebottom and Justin Neville and have the opportunity to meet so many historical fiction fans and authors.

Now for the question Helen has posed concerning guests 
at my Banquet Table. 
All have a significant connection to WWI.

Winston Churchill – for his experience living and leading through 

William Stephenson – best known for his WWII espionage role but also a decorated WWI pilot

Elizabeth Wharton – for superb writing skills and her intimate knowledge of France during WWI

Archduke Franz Ferdinand – to talk about the lead up to WWI and whether he had any idea of the risk he took visiting Serbia in 1914

Sir Douglas Haig – to quiz him on his blundering regarding military strategy

Sebastian Faulkes – to hear about the writing of Birdsong and his other books

Margaret MacMillan – for her perspective on the end of WWI (Paris 1919)
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Woodrow Wilson – to discuss why the US waited so long to join the fight

Gertrude Bell – for her involvement in the Middle East and the formation of Iraq

Sounds like a lively and enlightening group.
Many thanks to Helen Hollick for the opportunity to contribute.
(Helen - my pleasure Mary - thank you for joining us!)

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