Given that I have two books out this month set in a war zone, my debut historical When the Dawn Breaks (follow the link to other books to find out more) and my latest Mills and Boon (The Wife He Never Forgot) I thought I should ask the question- Is war an appropriate setting for romance?
Some of you may be aware that I have wanted to write a Medical set in Afghanistan for some time. My editor wasn’t too keen at first as she thought the war might be too close to home. I suspect she knew that I wouldn’t be able to write a book set in Afghanistan without mentioning some of the horror. When I was finally given the go ahead to write this book, the first in a duo with the fabulous Tina Beckett, my editor suggested I set at least part of it, a few years in the past – perhaps to give some distance.
It’s a story that begins in Afghanistan, a story about love, but also I hope a story that honours the men and women who risk their own lives to help and care for our soldiers.
As part of my research for The Wife He Never Forgot I spoke to doctors who served with the forces during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, both of whom had gone out on patrol with the troops. The doctor who served in Iraq admitted he was terrified a lot of the time. What also impressed me enormously was the fact that doctors and nurses, men and women would accompany the Chinooks as they flew in to retrieve wounded men. The army recognised that it wasn’t so much a Golden Hour that they had to save the soldiers but a Platinum Ten Minutes hence the Chinooks were equipped like a miniature Accident and Emergency Department with the latest, high tec equipment as well as the most experienced doctors and nurses.
If there are any positives to come out of conflict then it is the huge advances in medicine war always bring. For example MIT has developed a powder that can be poured onto a wound to stop it bleeding – particularly useful with neck wounds. Plastic surgery developed rapidly during the Second World War and there are many, many other examples.
It was never my intention to glamourise war, but I wanted to try and imagine the courage it must take to serve during a conflict and to explore what the long lasting effects might be.
So to return to my question- is war an appropriate background for women’s fiction and if it is, how far should the author go in terms of showing the horror? And do you have a book set during a conflict that has particularly touched you?
I’d love to hear what you think.