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BLOG Thursday 28 May

Death of a gunner at Waterloo

'After my visit to HQ, I arrive at the site of the confrontation and climb the Lion Monument. Maps and diagrams can never tell the whole story, and from here it is so much easier to visualise the stages of the battle. The height of Wellington's ridge was altered in his lifetime but the landscape below is still the same, including the farms. I now walk westward along the ridge, site of Wellington's right flank, to see some of the areas where the cavalry charges took place, both the initial charge of the Allied brigades under Uxbridge and the desperate charges by the French cavalry, ordered by Marshal Ney late in the afternoon. I am on my quest to discover more about my great-great-great grandfather, Joseph Lord, and see how his brother, John Lord, most likely met his death. I am interested in the way the British infantry defended their position against cavalry charges; they formed squares, with three ranks of soldiers on each side and 600 soldiers per square. I am also keenly aware of the huge sacrifice among the English cavalry. From a total strength estimated around 2,500, up to two thirds of of the men died or were wounded, and more horses were killed.

'My family folklore has it that Joseph Lord was in the 1st Life Guards, in the Household Cavalry Brigade under Somerset. This is consistent with information from a military-service website, where a John Lord is listed as a gunner in the same brigade. Here, where he died, I feel I am on the right track to begin to imagine their experiences.'

BLOG Wednesday 20 May

Our man at Waterloo

My novel The Chase, which ends during the Battle of Waterloo, will be re-released by Endeavour Press as an eBook later this year, so I'm bringing you despatches from the front from my friend Bruce Lord, currently visiting the battlefields. 

'While I'm looking at the situation from the Allied perspective, I'm equally moved by the experiences of their opponents, especially the ordinary foot soldiers of the Armée du Nord. Among the exhibits is a piece of artillery from the battle, kept in the courtyard. I've read that the British soldiers who fired these cannon at the countless marauding French cavalry, as they came over the crest of the hill, had to wait until the last possible moment and then dive between the wheels, hoping for protection, or run for the nearest square. Their role was no less dangerous than that of the infantry and cavalry and I can't help but reflect how lucky one would be to survive in such a battle.' 

Readers, see the Literary Mentor facebook pages for Bruce's images from Waterloo.

Latest Extract
Return to Hiroshima ~ Bob Van Laerhoven ~ Belgium

Hiroshima - Mitsuko spends the night in Hotel Ikawa Ryokan - Dobashi-Cho - March 11th 1995

Night falls, but I don't go dancing in a disco. I walk into the nearest hotel and book a room. I can't sleep, but I'm not surprised. I toss and turn in the tiny bed. I miss the familiar curves of my belly and feel like a ghost lost in the wrong body. I wasn't raised with other people, I was raised with shadows, and dreams like a puff of breath in the neck when you're alone. A girl can create her own world in such circumstances, a world in which everything has meaning. On Hashima, books and rubble were the focal point around which my existence seemed to turn. Rubble was everywhere. The island was one massive industrial ruin.

The Mentor’s Critique
Return to HIroshima ~ Bob Van Laerhoven

Bob, I found it agonising to have to select an extract from your first 30 pages, because they introduce such compelling storylines and utterly distinctive characters—what to choose from your astonishing narrative? In the end I have let Mitsuko speak because her voice begins the novel. You have great gifts as a writer and, provided your complex plot holds up in Return to Hiroshima, I predict that you will be a great gift for the right publisher. That is, a publisher looking for the skill, panache and trenchant seriousness of a writer like Keigo Higashino, with whom I have no hesitation in comparing you.

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