It was so interesting to see this piece about Tom Hanks’ love of antique typewriters. They are such beautiful machines and even though I type straight onto a computer now, I hammered out my earliest stories – concerning a bear called Edgar – on an Olivetti and the sensory appeal of it has never left me. Something about the zing of the carriage and the rip of the finished page, to lie in a stack by your side, is forever associated with writing in my mind. Which is perhaps why this antique Underwood plays such an important role in my forthcoming standalone novel.
The perennial question. But filming a documentary called The Nazi Invasion, due for broadcast in December, it was interesting to speculate on the extraordinary degree of planning that had been put into this question. Some of it was ridiculous – like von Ribbentrop’s idea of having Cornwall as his personal domain – and some just chilling, like Himmler’s decision to restrict education for conquered people to a very simple level, involving adding up to 500 and writing their names. We did the filming on the hottest day of the year and the producers found an appropriately dank cellar in which to fire their questions…..
The saying goes, a historian tells you what happened but a novelist tells you how it felt. I’m always interrogating myself about the rights and wrongs of setting novels in the past and particularly around such a sensitive part of the past as WW2 Germany. So I found this long, perceptive article by Hilary Mantel about why she writes historical fiction totally fascinating. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/jun/03/hilary-mantel-why-i-became-a-historical-novelist
What do Wallis Simpson, Ian Fleming and Walter Schellenberg have in common? They all feature in the new Clara Vine novel, Solitaire, which is available over the May Bank Holiday for just 99p on Kindle. Scoop it up now for holiday reading or recommend to friends to help drive it up the charts! https://www.amazon.co.uk/Solitaire-captivating-intrigue-survival-wartime-ebook/dp/B01C352OCQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1495787673&sr=8-1&keywords=jane+thynne
In the course of writing my work in progress – a stand alone novel called The Typewriter – I’ve been looking at a lot of images of Germany immediately after the end of the war. This video, if you can link to it, is a really impressive colourised compilation of footage shot in Germany, Washington and London, right after VE day and if you have a few minutes to spare it’s really worth a look! The Spirit of Liberation
and surely only the French would transport you to the event in a 1929 Citroen. It was rather wonderful to experience a car that Clara Vine might well have travelled in. Thank you to Bernard, my chauffeur.
I’ve never been to a French fiction festival before and for the novice it’s pretty eye-opening. A vast hall, the size of an aircraft hangar, full of desks on which the author’s work is displayed. The writer sits, apparently nonchalant, as visitors drift past, picking up a volume to scrutinise before either buying it, or putting it back. Some writers have lines stretching down the hall, others sit checking their phones. But what could be nicer than the chance to promote one’s work, so beautifully packaged by J.C. Lattes? I had some incredible chats with French fans who had apparently read all the Clara Vines that have been translated to date. And after listening to the machine gun delivery of the writers around me, I vowed to do some serious work on my French.
Clara’s third adventure is out in France this week. Serendipitously is begins in Paris, where Clara has been filming and is looking forward to a day off. The British intelligence service has other ideas though and they initiate a mission that leads Clara to the door of Hitler’s girlfriend, Eva Braun. As always, this novel was hugely pleasurable to research and involved some time in Paris, including investigating Coco Chanel, whose conduct during the war was not especially fragrant. I’m much looking forward to talking about the novel to an audience in France on March 11.
There’s a rather seductive title for this forthcoming event, but that may be on account of my glamorous co-panellists, Andrew Lownie and Rick Stroud, and even more, the chair, Elizabeth Buchan. We’ll be discussing our books at the Omnibus Arts Centre, I, Clapham Common north side, between 5pm and 6pm. and it would be fantastic if anyone can join us. In lieu of a picture of Clapham here’s a photograph of the building in Munich where, in 1938, Chamberlain signed the agreement that gained his lasting reputation as an appeaser, even though it did hold off war for another year.
Two days was not enough time to spend in Munich, but what an astonishing trove of unexpected treasure can be found there, if only you know where to look. Before I’d always focused on the Third Reich associations, as Munich was the cradle of National Socialism, so I’d never properly explored the vast number of exquisite artworks that are hanging in almost deserted museums like the Neue Pinakothek or the Lenbachhaus, whose room devoted to the animal paintings of Munich native Franz Marc is unforgettable. I especially loved his deer frolicking in the snow, a work of great beauty from an artist who was destined to die in the First World War. Compare the gentle vulnerability of these paintings to the tortured postwar works of Otto Dix and Georg Grosz. Above all, as someone commented to me, they embody tenderness, which is a greatly underrated virtue.