Sunday, 11 June 2017

#BlogTour #KimIzzo #SevenDaysInMay

Seven Days in May by Kim Izzo 

Seven Days in May is a captivating novel of love and resilience during the Great War, inspired by real events and the author’s family history. 

As the First World War rages, two New York heiresses, Sydney and Brooke Sinclair, are due to set sail for England. Brooke is engaged to marry impoverished aristocrat Edward Thorpe-Tracey, the future Lord Northbrook, in the wedding of the social calendar. Sydney has other adventures in mind; she is drawn to the burgeoning suffragette movement, which is a constant source of embarrassment to her proper sister. As international tempers flare, the German embassy releases a warning that any ships making the Atlantic crossing are at risk. Undaunted, Sydney and Brooke board the Lusitania for the seven-day voyage with Edward, not knowing that disaster lies ahead.

In London, Isabel Nelson, a young woman grateful to have escaped her blemished reputation in Oxford, has found employment at the British Admiralty in the mysterious Room 40. She begins as a secretary, but it isn’t long before her skills in codes and cyphers are called on, and she learns a devastating truth and the true cost of war.

As the days of the voyage pass, these four lives collide in a struggle for survival as the Lusitania meets its deadly fate.

Seven Days in May is published by Harper 360 on 15 June 2017. 


Today I am delighted to welcome Kim Izzo to my blog with a guest post about her novel. Thank you so much Kim for coming along and for allowing me to be part of the Blog Tour for you book! I am so excited to kick off the tour today with a really enjoyable piece about your research for your novel and your experience of a cruise liner! 

KIM IZZO - GUEST POST


Once I decided to research and write a novel about the sinking of the RMS Lusitania I knew there was one thing I had to do: a transatlantic crossing! I’d never been on a cruise before. My experiences with boats were scant - a high school boyfriend’s tiny two-person fishing boat on the lake and another friend’s speedboat that took water-skiers out for a joyride. The reason wasn’t only because I was an urban girl but also because I couldn’t swim – still can’t. People are always after me to learn but hey, at this stage in life it makes good cocktail patter.

But how could I accurately depict an ocean voyage without completing the trek firsthand? 

The Lusitania was built in Scotland and owned by the Cunard Line, she was launched in 1906 and sank off the Irish coast on May 7, 1915. Today Cunard owns the Queen Mary II and the company generously gave me passage on the ship in October 2013 where I sailed from New York to Southampton. The journey took eight days.

I was fortunate to be given a room in the upper part of the ship – what would have been first class in 1915. It had a small balcony and being 2013, a television set and WIFI. 
I had a private table in the Britannia Club where the dress code was black tie each night. This meant packing a selection of not only cocktail dresses, but evening gowns too! The notion of dressing for dinner has all but disappeared from our current culture but I admit it was illuminating to experience that aspect to life and imagine what my main character, Sydney Sinclair, would have had to prepare for during her crossing. Planning evening clothes for seven nights is exhausting, so much so that I cheated and had room service one night. 

And unlike in 1915, I did have the option of dining on the lower levels of the ship, which was buffet and casual and I chose that one evening as well. Besides, unlike Sydney, I’m not rich and didn’t have seven evening gowns to wear!

The service in the Britannia Club was as expected, top-notch. I got to know my waiter and he got to know my tastes as well. It was he who recommended that I eat bread to stave off seasickness, which I had, and his advice made it into my novel. Like me, Sydney gets “mal de mer” and employed the bread trick to help her own sensitive stomach.

There was dancing almost every night and for single’s ladies such as myself there are “gentlemen” dancers available on every Queen Mary 2 voyage to ensure that wallflowers get their turn. I’m not much of a waltz expert so I declined the kind men who approached me lest I end up severely wounding one of their feet with my two left ones.

As a journalist I was also invited to dine at the Captain’s Table one night. Even in this day and age it is a huge honour. In 2013 it was Captain Kevin Oprey who was in charge of the ship. An elegant man, he was also an excellent dinner companion and ensured that he spoke to every guest at the table equally. This was quite the opposite of the final captain of the Lusitania, Captain William Turner, who disliked socializing with passengers and often passed that duty down to his second in command. 

I was also allowed onto the bridge – a very rare occurrence as it is strictly off-limits to passengers for security reasons. It was fascinating to see the modern navigation equipment and yes, there was a ship’s wheel!

Each day I walked around the deck for exercise. The deck is made of wood, like the Lusitania’s were. I imagine the view – seven days of ocean spread out before you - hasn’t changed at all and I could envision quite easily what my characters would have seen standing there in 1915. And like Sydney, I didn’t venture too close to the railing to peer over very often. Maybe only once. It was just too frightening to someone who couldn’t swim. 

Traveling alone you strike up conversations with strangers quite easily and I met some incredible people. And the common theme to these chats was why they chose to sail from America to England when flying was obviously cheaper and faster. The answer was always the same: to experience the romance and glamour of an ocean voyage. The Titanic’s doomed maiden voyage and the 1997 film inspired travellers of all ages and for many the Queen Mary 2 was the bucket-list trip of a lifetime. 

While the fates of the Titanic and the Lusitania were tragic, the two ships and their passengers remain a source of enduring fascination, both with a bygone era and the mysteries and questions that still surround their final voyages. And in 2017 many of us still want to connect and be transported through fiction and film to that moment in history. 


Thanks so much Kim for a fascinating and enjoyable piece about your research and experience of a cruise liner - It sounds very romantic and glamorous! I wish you every success with your novel which has an equally glamorous and stylish front cover! 

DON'T MISS THE OTHER STOPS ON THE BLOG TOUR FOR SEVEN DAYS IN MAY! 



Kim Izzo is an author, screenwriter and journalist living in Toronto.  She is the author of The Jane Austen Marriage Manual and My Life in Black and White and the co-author of two etiquette books, The Fabulous Girl’s Guide to Decorumand & The Fabulous Girl’s Guide to Grace Under Pressure. Kim’s great-grandfather sailed on the Lusitania and lived to tell the tale and inspire the novel.

You can find out more about Kim by following her on Twitter or visiting her website: 
@kimizzo

kimizzo.com


For more recommendations and reviews follow me on Twitter @KatherineSunde3 or via my website bibliomaniacuk.co.uk 

No comments:

Post a Comment