INTERVIEW: Pam Lecky--the Writing Irish
I've said this before, but perhaps the most awesome thing about being an author is meeting other authors. And with the worldwide web, I have author friends literally EVERYWHERE. My writer's support group is out of the UK. My amazing accountability partner, Wendy Dunn is in Australia. She and I meet online once every few weeks to keep each other on track with our projects.
Once you have tapped into the global power of the internet, you can be everywhere at a click of a mouse-pad and connect with people anywhere. Earlier this year, I had a rather important author interview and had new equipment to test for it. It so happened that I was online at the same time with Irish author Pam Lecky. She patiently spent a good hour online with me as I tested out my new technology with her, making sure I was ready for my event.
During the months that followed, I sensed a solid friendship connection with Pam. She confided in me, conferred with me regarding Americanized English terms for her work in progress, and now we frequently chat about dogs, since she has a new "fur-child". Pam is a gifted writer, hails from the Emerald Isle, and has a passion for her wondrous land. Prior to her newest book launch, I was able to pin her down for a brief e-interview, and I hope you'll enjoy getting to know her as much as I have. And be sure to check out Her Secret War, for it's based on a true WWII story!
An Interview with Pam Lecky
by Brook Allen
Welcome, Pam! Your previous books are primarily about characters in the Victorian Age. How difficult was it to switch gears from the 19th century to world WWII ?
It was certainly a little daunting at first, but I have always been fascinated by the world wars and tend to watch anything related on TV such as documentaries or movies. However, it was my agent’s suggestion that I explore writing a WW2 story with a strong Irish flavour that made my antennae twitch. At the time, I was editing Footprints in the Sand, which is set in Victorian Egypt, so I had to be careful not to mix up my timelines and include Spitfires flying over the Great Pyramid or corset-wearing heroines in Blitzed London!
Both my family and local history inspired Her Secret War. My mother and her sisters left rural Ireland to work in Britain during WW2. One aunt was following her boyfriend who had joined the RAF, and she went to work in a factory making munitions. Another aunt wanted to study nursing, and my mother was a ‘clippie’ (bus conductor) on the Birmingham buses. Her Secret War is not their story, but there are glimpses of their experiences hidden amongst the fiction. The bombing of North Strand, which features in the book, happened only a few miles from where I grew up. The greatest challenge was getting up to speed on day-to-day life. I knew a lot about the timeline and events of the war, but it was the nitty-gritty details of life in Britain on the Homefront during those terrible years that I needed to research. Basically, I had to read a lot and thankfully, there is an enormous amount of wonderful material out there.
Essentially, the story is one of espionage, and luckily, I came across a fantastic book by Tim Tate, Hitler’s British Traitors, which not only gave me a huge amount of background information but also threw up a few plot ideas too (always a bonus!).
So Her Secret War takes place in WWII, as have many stories in the past half decade. Publishers seem to LOVE that era. What do you think it is about WWII that compels readers to choose these books? I believe it is because it is recent enough to be within the living memory of our parents and grandparents. Some of our parents lived through it, like mine. We may have grown up hearing the stories or seen artefacts in our grandparents’ homes. Essentially, we can connect to those events.
You are an Irish author. Can you share with us what it is about Her Secret War that lends readers a taste of the Emerald Isle?
My heroine, Sarah Gillespie (at right), is Irish, and the story begins with the infamous bombing of neutral Dublin by the Luftwaffe in May 1941. The opening chapters take place during the bombing and its aftermath before the story moves to Britain. Like many Irish at the time, Sarah has family living in the UK. They welcome her to their home when her own family is killed. Without giving away the plot, Sarah’s nationality leads to a lot of complications, and she is forced to decide where her loyalties lie. I have always been fascinated by the complex relationship between the Irish and their ex-colonial masters, and I explore this to some extent in the novel.
Regarding your research: what part of this story challenged you?
There was one particular fact that I could not verify (very frustrating!) and only recently, through contacting the aforementioned Tim Tate, was I able to find it out. I can’t tell you what the fact was as the sequel’s plot is based on it!
Tell us a little about your main character. Are there things about her that remind you of yourself or someone you know?
Sarah is not me. She is brave and outgoing; though she is a little bit stubborn which I can be guilty of! Unfortunately, I am a wuss. If faced with the situations she must deal with in the story, I would be running for the hills!
This past year, you have transitioned to writing full-time. How has this been for you and is it an advantage to your craft? It is wonderful and terrifying all at the same time! But yes, I do believe I can dedicate more time to my writing and research. Before I had to fit my writing in around my job and often found I was too tired after work to write. Home life has also changed recently with two of my children moving out. Less housework, more writing! Yay!
What do you think are your personal strengths as a writer, and how have these attributes helped you in developing novels?
Having been an administrative supervisor for most of my working life, including editing and proofreading work, being organized is second nature to me and so useful now, whether it’s plotting a story or planning my schedules. And, as I’m now writing full-time, I must look at my writing as a business and me as a brand (yikes!).
A love of research, honed over years of doing family history research, has also been a great asset. I’ll willingly jump down lots of research rabbit holes to see where they will go. Some of my best ideas/sub-plots/characters have been the result.
I simply adore your Lucy Lawrence mysteries! Can you give my readers a hint as to what Lucy has in store in the next one? Book 3, The Art of Deception, is currently with my editor. I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s just say that Lucy and Phineas’s relationship is put to the test, multiple times. Oh, and there are a few murders and thefts along the way, too. And a bleak and lonely manor house on a Scottish island…
On a more personal note, your family recently expanded. Please share a little about this new member of the Lecky household and what her interests are! Molly, the puppy (below!), burst into our lives about 2 months ago. We are still reeling! But she is a sweet girl and besides food, food and food, her interests are playing with our cats, chewing anything we haven’t managed to smother in Vicks Vapour Rub and being cute with strangers!
The year 2022 will soon be upon us. What are some goals you have as a writer for the coming year? Oh gosh, I haven’t made it to the end of 2021 yet!! But the sequel to Her Secret War, yet to get a title, is slated for publication by Avon Books UK/Harper Collins in the fall. I will also be working on some new projects, including one novel which will be a complete change of genre for me (contemporary psychological thriller). Depending on the success of Her Secret War, I may write a third WW2 book as I have a few ideas rattling around in my head. All being well and if the pandemic has waned, I hope to attend a few book festivals next year. I’ve really missed going to those. So, Crimefest, Harrogate and the Historical Novel Society conferences are in my sights! And, if I can fit in visits to the locations in my recent books, all the better.
Thanks so much for hosting me, Brook.
Blurb for Her Secret War
Published by: Avon Books UK/Harper Collins
Release date: 14th October 2021
A life-changing moment
May 1941: German bombs drop on Dublin taking Sarah Gillespie’s family and home. Days later, the man she loves leaves Ireland to enlist.
A heart-breaking choice
With nothing to keep her in Ireland and a burning desire to help the war effort, Sarah seeks refuge with relatives in England. But before long, her father’s dark past threatens to catch up with her.
A dangerous mission
Sarah is asked to prove her loyalty to Britain through a special mission. Her courage could save lives. But it could also come at the cost of her own… A gripping story that explores a deadly tangle of love and espionage in war-torn Britain, perfect for fans of Pam Jenoff, Kate Quinn and Kate Furnivall.
All About Pam
Pam Lecky is an Irish historical fiction author, writing crime and mystery with a dash of romance. Pam is represented by the Hardman & Swainson Literary Agency in London. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Society of Authors and has a particular love of the late Victorian era/early 20th Century.
In November 2020, Pam signed with Avon Books UK/Harper Collins in a two-book deal. The first book in the historical thriller series, Her Secret War, will be published in October 2021; the sequel in 2022.
Her debut novel, The Bowes Inheritance, was awarded the B.R.A.G Medallion; shortlisted for the Carousel Aware Prize 2016; and longlisted for the Historical Novel Society 2016 Indie Award.
Her short stories are available in an anthology, entitled Past Imperfect, which was published in April 2018.
June 2019, saw the release of the first book in the Lucy Lawrence Mystery series, No Stone Unturned, a fast-paced Victorian mystery/crime, set in London and Yorkshire which was awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion. The sequel, Footprints in the Sand, set in Egypt, was released in March 2020. She is currently working on the third book in the series, The Art of Deception, which will be published in late 2021.
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