Anyone who has read my book Under Leaden Skies has hopefully seen the dedication; for those of you who haven’t, here it is:
It’s an odd thing, writing a tale which revolves around and relies on war as one of its key underlying concepts, without feeling one is in some way glorifying it.
For me personally, WW2 was something which happened to my grandparents’ generation. It shaped their lives for years, and it shaped them in ways it took me decades to understand. I still remember my mum’s frustration at the number of times her mother said, “Well I do things this way because during the war…” (but I have to admit, all of those conversations proved a good grounding for building up a backdrop for my characters’ stories!)
My personal thoughts and feelings about the wisdom or futility of warfare have waxed and waned over the years, and I’ve often returned to the link between this particular war and my own life, and there have been times, particularly during my research for Under Leaden Skies, when I’ve wondered what those who fought for the Allies would make of modern life; whether we squander what they won for us with our consumerist culture and other such foibles of western life. But always, I came back to the word I used in my dedication: “freedom”. I believe that is what was being fought for, throughout WW2 and the Cold War, and many other conflicts besides. And freedom includes the freedom to mess up, to make mistakes, to take the wrong path, and overall to learn from experience and build a better world with the wisdom gained.
Mistakes make us human, our reaction proves our worth. As has been proven many times over, telling people what to do only works so far: you have to help them understand why that is the right thing to do, and only freedom gives us the time to do this.
These days, I am older than my oldest grandparents were at the outbreak of WW2. Would I have coped, and survived, as they did, if similar war broke out today?
I hope I never have to find out.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.