Why I write and read: Carole McEntee-Taylor

Posted 21 Aug 2017 by Ian Anstice

Five books written by Carole McEntee-Taylor

My parents both loved books, my father read detective, adventure and espionage stories while my mother read historical fiction and romance so I grew up with a passion for reading most genres and this is reflected in my novels which although set in the 20th Century are a mixture of all these. I write both military history and historical fiction and the inspiration behind my writing was my father in law, Ted Taylor.

Ted Before CalaisTed was conscripted into the Rifle Brigade in September 1939 and fought in the Defence of Calais in May 1940 after which he spent five years as a POW. Although he’d never spoken about it we finally managed to persuade him to talk on tape and received a very sanitised version of the fighting and his subsequent years in a POW camp. In 2008 Ted suffered a crippling stroke and ended up in a nursing home. To cheer him up I suggested writing up his war experiences as a book.

This was quite daunting as I had no background in military history. So I began the long process of reading everything I could about the Defence of Calais, which wasn’t much. The battle was totally eclipsed by the evacuation from Dunkirk and was rarely mentioned, even on the most recent documentaries. I knew even less about the treatment of the ordinary POW at the hands of their captors or their lives, having grown up on a diet of sanitised POW camp films and even one comedy set in a Stalag, none of which bore any reality to the truth. Like most authors I struggled to find a publisher but eventually, Ted’s story, Surviving the Nazi Onslaught, was published by Pen & Sword Books Ltd.

I was now hooked on writing military history and have written several other books, but I also wanted to write fiction because I couldn’t find anything I wanted to read. I have always been a voracious reader. I’d spend hours in the library as a child and spent all my pocket money on books, progressing quickly from Enid Blyton to Agatha Christie amongst others. I’d rush home with my latest books, disappear up into my bedroom and not come down again until they were finished. My Dad always used to say they were a waste of money because I could get through two or three books in a weekend but they weren’t. They were my escape from reality and the more I read the more it fuelled my imagination. As I grew older I read anything I could get my hands on, crime, thrillers, historical fiction, occasionally romance and science fiction and of course chic lit! The library was my second home and I would always come out with the maximum number of books I could borrow and they were always returned well before the due date.

I liked big books I could lose myself in, probably to escape my disastrous relationships. Prams, pushchairs and my arms groaned under the weight but it was worth it to stay sane. I often think the most important thing I did for my children, apart from making them independent, was to give them a love of reading and without libraries this would not have been possible.

Having finally extradited myself from the last bad relationship I spent two years on my own finding myself again and then I met David. I no longer needed to escape my reality so I stopped reading. I found books by authors I’d always loved no longer held my attention so I decided to write something I wanted to read and I had the perfect idea.

Whist writing Ted’s story I learnt that Brenda, my mother in law, had been a nurse throughout the London Blitz, and she and Ted were engaged when he went to war. Five long years later he came home and they were married. Their story fascinated me. They did not have the benefit of hindsight. Brenda waited even though she had no idea how long it would be or even if Ted would ever come home. Ted had somehow held onto the belief that he would come home even though he had no idea how long that might be. I decided to write up Ted and Brenda’s story including an element of fiction to cover something Ted did in France.

SeparationI soon realised it was impossible to fictionalise my in laws because they were real people. I couldn’t have them doing things that weren’t in character nor did I want to alienate the family and have my husband not talking to me because I had made his mum do something she wouldn’t have! So I changed their names and although the story is inspired by them and based on something that did happen, all the characters are now 100% fiction. Lives Apart: A WW2 Chronicle is in 5 books and you can borrow them from your library. This was followed by Betrayed and my latest series, Obsession. I have just started another series called Secret Lives and this will be out some time next year.

When I advertise my books on the radio or in blog posts I always suggest people get them from the library. I prefer to try authors out first before spending money and what better way of doing that than via your local library? I still get royalties from books that are stocked by libraries and if my book is on the shelf it introduces more people to my work. Libraries are a priceless resource for both readers and authors and without them I would never have become an author.

www.carolemctbooks.info

North West Libraries

Librarians in the North West have pioneered partnership working to encourage new readers into libraries. Time To Read is a partnership of librarians engaged in reader development activity in public library authorities in the North West Region. 22 public library authorities in the region currently support Time To Read.

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