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I grew up among bombed buildings and hearing stories from my parents about the difficultes of air raids, so it was little wonder I’d always wanted to write a novel with World War II as its theme. When I found out about the shameful and extraordinarily cruel internment of Italian men in 1940, I knew I had an amazing event around which to build a story. Internment of Italians happened in Britain, where I set the novel, but it also happened in the United States — California recently apologized for “indignities” imposed on its Italian community during WWII.

I dreamt up two families — one English and one Italian — then added some suspense surrounding a deep dark secret. Characters and plot in place, I waded in to tell the story of their lives during and after the war. Young Edith is the main character, naïve at first, but forced to be wise beyond her years. Her two sons help tell her story and are the characters who unearth the startling event that has influenced their lives without them knowing it.

I listened to hours of taped interviews with men who had been interned to give my character Gianni, the Italian father, and his four sons credible stories surrounding the indignities they experienced during internment. I added colorful descriptions of everyday life in England during the war, and finally inserted a bit of humour and a dash of romance. Sounds easy, but it took five years to complete the novel. It was a lot of work but I enjoyed every minute of it. Edith, her sons, and Gianni and his family became more real to me than my own family! Even though the novel is finished and printed, I still find myself wondering how they’re doing and what they’re up to.

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