Author Adrian Horn reveals…….
After my parents died, I found a box of old family papers in their attic. These were a revelation to me. When growing up, my grandfather was never talked about and I had never seen a photograph of him. I discovered from the old documents that my grandfather was the son of Swedish immigrants, that his father was a successful timber merchant in London and that my grandfather fought in the Great War. It made me wonder what terrible thing a man could do that would make a family erase him from their history? After reading more about the war, a possible answer came to me: morphine addiction!
Untold stories in history as well as characters that capture the imagination have always fascinated me. I learned that the Great War, through indiscriminate use of morphine, produced as many as 500,000 addicts. I realised I had the core of a gripping story, but I needed to put an angle on it that would take the readers with me.
Nurse’s memoirs, visceral and graphic, occupied much of my research reading and this was clearly another under reported story. WWI has been written about endlessly but here was a new approach and a story that needed to be told.
I wanted to put the female side to the continuing saga of the Great War to counterbalance the traditional male narratives. And then it came to me: a heroine who fell in love with a man who went off to war and came back a different person, leaving her to cope with the damage. But it doesn’t end there.
Lucy, demure and intelligent, falls for Jan, good-looking and troubled. From there on the story alternates between Jan’s and Lucy’s point of view. The story follows them through his army training until Jan goes over to Ypres and Hill 60 with his platoon. Stinker a scruffy terrier attaches himself to Jan in France and joins him when he returns wounded and damaged with a longing for morphia.
I knew, absolutely, that I had a cracking story. The confidence in the story sustained me through several years of painstaking research and writing. I’m really pleased. Everyone I know who has read it says it’s a real page turner. That’s the most important thing, that people enjoy reading it.