Watching the coverage of the commemoration of the D-Day Landings, I was reminded of the contribution young Australian men made to the air war and the defence of Britain in World War II. More than 10,000 Australians served with Bomber Command
And I was reminded of the history that underpins my fictional story of the wealthy Australian Belleville family.
Richard Belleville, the elder son and Julia Belleville’s brother, heads to Canada as part of the Empire Air Training Scheme (EATS), a Commonwealth scheme designed to address the shortfall of aircrew for the RAF.
Later, my fictional pilot Richard follows in the footsteps of many Australians with a posting to 460 SQN, a heavy bomber squadron (Nov 1941-Oct 1945) flying from RAF Binbrook in Linconshire. At 24, he would have been too old for Spitfires. Instead he flies the Avro Lancaster in bombing raids on Germany.
In his rare downtime, what else would a good-looking young Australian officer do but woo a beautiful young woman of aristocratic lineage?
Haldon Hall, Catherine Cavendish’s family home, is fictional but draws its inspiration from a number of fine country houses in England.
The action moves between Australia and England. And America too.
Which means Book 1 of my Belleville series – Julia’s Story – is far more than the story of Julia Belleville as she emerges into womanhood in wartime Australia.
It is also the story of her family. Her mother Elizabeth, her father Francis, her brothers Richard and William.
It is the story of events precipitated by war and complicated further by deception, a deception that impacts all their lives. It is a story that spans three continents. It begins in 1942 in book 1, Julia’s Story and ends in 1960 in book 3, Return to Prior Park.
For the first four chapters of each of the Belleville novels, go to jmarymasters.com and download the PDF.
Some years ago, as I was completing a Year of the Novel course at Queensland Writers Centre, I had an idea for a story. Or more precisely, an idea for a story found me through a dream. Several years on, the story has now been told through the Belleville family trilogy with the third book – RETURN TO PRIOR PARK – being released this week.
As I wrote the third book, I was amazed at how the characters’ lives took over their stories. In some ways book 3 is quite a departure from the first two – so I will be very interested to hear what readers have to say.
I wanted to refresh the first two books – not the stories – but the presentation, so I have released each book with a new more contemporary cover design.
The Belleville story is a timeless story – of love, of betrayal, of secrets and tragedy. Its origins are Australian but its reach is international – from New York to London to Sydney and to country Australia.
The Belleville trilogy
Julia’s Story(previously The House of Secrets: Julia’s Story) Book 1 – ISBN 9780994327642
To Love, Honour and Betray Book 2 – ISBN 9780994327659
Return to Prior Park Book 3 – ISBN 9780994327635
My one hope is that my readers enjoy reading the books as much as I enjoyed writing them. Will there be more Belleville books? Perhaps. For more information, including links to buy the books, go to my website.
I always find there is a slight problem in talking about a new book that no one has yet read …. because I don’t want to give away the key dramatic moments in the book, so I am left talking about the characters (those who share some characteristics with some of my late family members) and the things I’ve learned along the way that have influenced some of the small details in the book.
Small intimate groups are best. Here is a group I met with a week or so ago. All these women are very keen readers and appreciated the opportunity to ask me some questions about writing and how I go about it.
For every writer, writing is such an individual activity that no two people will ever do it quite the same way or plan their books in quite the same manner.
My trick is to really place myself in the scene, to imagine it as if it was a TV show. I imagine the characters, their discussions and their body language.
Now the next decision is about book 3. How far further along do I take the Belleville family? Stay tuned.
The new book is ‘To Love, Honour & Betray’, ISBN 9780994327611 (paperback) on Amazon or via local book stores or online and available in ebook format from the usual sources.
To Love, Honour & Betray Book 2 of the Belleville Family saga
ISBN 9780994327611 A$24.95 print paperback – pre-order & special price now available at www.pmabooks.com
ISBN 9780994327628 – ebook (except Kindle) – available soon
Kindle edition will be uploaded in the next couple of days
Well, I’ve finished the book …. no more tweaking now. The cover has been finalised. Just doing the final production phase heading towards printing and the e-book version being available.
What can I tell you about To Love, Honour & Betray that won’t be a spoiler?
It’s 10 years since the end of book 1, The House of Secrets: Julia’s Story and the stresses are beginning to show in two marriages.
Julia Belleville, now Fitzroy, continues to mourn the daughter she was forced to give up, while her husband James begins to look elsewhere.
And Catherine, Richard’s wife, restless and unimpressed by her life in Australia, embraces the unexpected events in her family that draw her back to her English life.
Hundreds of miles from the Belleville family’s grand home, a terrible accident robs a young girl of her parents. It is only later that the consequences of this tragedy become known.
And what of Alistair McGovern, the late Francis Belleville’s bastard son? Now a young adult, he demands his share of the Belleville fortune but he is spurned by the two brothers, Richard and William, who will do anything to ensure that this terrible secret never reaches their mother. When he is finally rejected, his anger and disappointment can only lead him in one direction.
And what of Philippe Duval, the man Julia loved and lost. What news from the past brings him back to Australia, a country he thought he would never visit again.
I hope this is a page turner for you. I think there may even be some tears …….
I have been very quiet on the social media front in recent months.
But now that I am close to finishing Book 2 of the Belleville family saga, I wanted to share with my readers and those who are interested the new cover designs.
The cover of Book 1 – The House of Secrets: Julia’s Story – has been redesigned to relaunch with Book 2 in the saga: To Love, Honour & Betray.
When are you likely to get your hands on Book 2? End of April/early May 2017.
I’ve just got to get stuck into the last few chapters – oh, and by the way, I’m heading off on Friday on QF1 bound for the London Book Fair. I’m hoping to interest an international publisher. Fingers crossed.
More soon. This is the first viewing of the cover of book 2. Feedback is welcome.