#FionaFord #TheSparkGirls #Q&A

The Spark Girl (The Spark Girls #1)
It is my great pleasure to welcome Fiona Ford on to my blog today for an interview! Thanks so much to Fiona for coming along - but before we get on with the q&a, here's a bit of blurb about her book!
Spring 1940. Kitty Williams has suffered more than her fair share of tragedy but rather than wallowing, she's more determined than ever to do her part in the battle against Hitler. Stepping up her own war effort, Kitty leaves her home town of Coventry and joins the Auxiliary Territorial Service (Women's Army - ATS) where she finds new friends in Di, Peggy and Mary but also new obstacles to overcome in both her professional and personal lives.
Packed full of wartime adventure, romance, heartbreak and friendship, The Spark Girls is a gripping and poignant saga perfect for fans of Ellie Dean, Daisy Styles and Maggie Ford

Thank you so much Fiona for coming along today. Can I start by asking you about your reading? Your twitter header uses the quote from Hemingway “There is no friend as loyal as a book”. Which 3 books have been your most loyal friends? 
That is a tough one! I have many books I like to revisit where getting back into them is as comfortable as chatting with an old friend and picking straight up where you left off.

I would say Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes is my top choice – brilliant mix of humour and pathos, and Marian’s voice itself is like being with an old friend.

Little Women РLouisa May Alcott. Probably a clich̩ but the relationships between the March girls never fail to provide comfort during particularly difficult times.

Back Home – Michelle Magorian. I loved this book as a child and adore it just as much now. The tale of Rusty the evacuee returning to the UK after she was shipped to the USA at the start of the war and the challenges she faced as she adjusted to her old life is so poignant and probably got me started with my fascination of WW2.

Which 3 books would you recommend to your most loyal friends?

Lisa Hall – Between you and Me. Lisa’s books seriously mess with your mind in a really good way that will have you questioning the way you read that book for days.

Victoria Hislop – The Island is such a beautiful heart-wrenching novel, it’s a nourishing holiday read.

Anna Freeman – The Fair Fight is a brilliant historical novel with guts, chutzpah and a fab use of the Bristol dialect. An extremely good and loyal friend introduced me to it and so I would have to repay the favour and pass this onto another loyal pal.

 “The Spark Girls” is set in WW2. Can you recommend one historical novel that you have found inspirational in the sense that it captured the era, setting and society of that time convincingly?

I’ve read a lot of historical novels for research and pleasure but Kate Thompson’s, Secrets of the Singer Girls completely blew me away. Kate’s characterisation is so warm, the writing witty and observational and she has a wonderful knack of drawing you in right from page one. The thing about historical novels is we often see people depicted with completely different sets of values and it can put people off the genre because they think they won’t be able to relate to the characters – Kate’s writing changes all of that.

 “The Spark Girls” is set in the wartime – not an easy time for people, and not an easy time for your characters. Why do you think novels set in the past have such an appeal to readers today?

I’ve been asked this a lot lately and I think that part of the appeal is the world is just a little bit cruddy now and the past gives us quite a bit of comfort. In short, we as humans have survived an awful lot – two world wars most recently for example. I think the fact we can read stories set in these challenging times and know that everything worked out in the end proves there is hope for us all, no matter how dire circumstances seem to be.

 I read that your interest in the Second World War grew from looking at photos with your grandfather and hearing about his wartime experiences. What was it about his experiences that interested you so much?

My grandfather was a wonderful man with a fantastic gift for storytelling. Although he told me a lot of stories, his face would light up and he would become particularly animated when we pored over photos from his navy days. There were so many stories, from missing his ship and having to play catch-up at ports around the world (a common occurrence surprisingly) to Vera Lynn who sang as his ship set sail from England.  His enthusiasm was infectious and I adored nothing more than listening to his tales and seeing the joy on his face as he told me with forthright honesty what life was like in the navy during WW2.

 Was it something he told you about that particularly inspired the plot for “The Spark Girls”? How much of him or what he shared with you made it in to the novel?

Although Kitty’s story is set in the army rather than the navy which is where my grandfather served, the one thing I’ve included that was important to Granddad was the camaraderie he experienced.  He had so many photos and stories of his shipmates that I think it was those relationships that made it easier being away from his wife and baby son (my father) while serving his country. I’ve also used his name as one of the important characters in the novel as a way of honouring those happy times we shared – Joe.

You have worked as a journalist for many years before publishing your debut novel. How easy has the transition from non fiction writer to fiction writer been? Has your experience of writing about the real lives and real dramas of women helped inform your fiction writing?

It has been a huge help. Interviewing so many different people over the years has given me the gift of seeing how people cope when obstacles are thrown their way. I feel very lucky I’ve had a huge range of emotional, funny and downright silly stories to fall back on from people that were kind enough to share those precious moments of their lives with me.

 “The Spark Girls” is the first instalment of a series. Was this a conscious decision from the beginning and if so how did it affect your planning and writing process?

Yes! It was always the plan to write another, and fingers crossed there will be more. I knew from all the research I had done that the lives of those that served as drivers in the army was perfect for storytelling. With women facing danger, ferrying secrets to Winston Churchill one day or delivering goods and lorries across the country another, all the while at risk of being hijacked by the enemy. These women were so courageous and full of life I knew that these stories had all the ingredients for a series.

Are you working on the next book at the moment? Can you tell us anything about it?  

I have literally just finished the sequel to The Spark Girl. It’s called The Spark Girl’s Promise and tells the story of Peggy who we meet in book one. Peggy starts off as a quiet, shy girl but with all the danger and adventures she has to face as the bombs fall in 1941 she finds strength and courage she never knew she had to cope with some very challenging surprises.

And finally, what book can you recommend that might “spark” up my summer holiday reading?! Or can you recommend one novel that one of the characters in your novel might be reading  / want to read if they were living in 2017?

If you’re new to historical fiction or don’t think it’s for you then try The Bomb Girls by Daisy Styles. Packed with feisty women, a terrific storyline and punchy dialogue, she’s given the saga market a welcome shake-up and it’s perfect for lying on a beach wishing these cracking female characters were here to enjoy that cheeky cocktail with you as the sun beats down in 2017.

Thank you so much for answering my questions and for your interesting answers - and great book recommendations! It's been a real pleasure to chat with you and I wish you all the best with the publication of The Spark Girls! 

The Spark Girls was published by Orion in June 2017.


I have spent the last fifteen years working as a journalist and now spend my days crafting fiction having created The Spark Girl , a series of wartime sagas, published by Orion and the Pug Like Percy novels, published by HQ.  As a little girl all I ever wanted to do was write books and lose myself in a world of characters and stories. Amazingly, my dream has finally come true! 

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


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