In Her Sights by John Kimbrey | What is it about WW1 that inspired you to write this book? #GuestPost

Set at the outbreak of the Great War, the story depicts a young woman from a Gloucestershire village, tired with the constraints of her life in Edwardian Britain.

In 1916, her brother, a weak and introverted man is called up for military service. She sees an opportunity to finally compete with men in their own world and formulates a plan to go to war in his place.

In this unique and compelling tale of sibling love and extraordinary bravery, they learn to swap lives completely and she quickly adapts to her life as a man, seeking to fight alongside her male peers in war- torn France.

With many twists and turns, it demonstrates the very best and worst of soldiers of the time and brings a new perspective to the many aspects of war. With unbelievable conditions, great loyalty and unrivalled friendships, her world is then shattered as the military machine closes in. With her life now in danger, she battles to survive, bringing a conclusion the reader won’t see coming.

Genre: Historical Fiction
Page Count: 370
Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49494311-in-her-sights
Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Her-Sights-John-Kimbrey/dp/1913136922

What is it about WW1 that inspired you to write this book?
Guest Post by John Kimbrey

My interests in the great war, began as a young boy, when I learned of both my Grandfathers’ serving in WW1 and my Father joining the parachute regiment in 1945, serving for three years. I remember being shown their medals as a young boy, and now have them framed on a wall in my house. I too then served in the Royal Marines from 1971, for 25 years.

This link to the British forces throughout my life and experiencing for myself military operations, created a great interest of soldiering through the ages. Life in the trenches during WW1, held a particular fascination, particularly related to battle tactics. I have visited the battlefields of northern France several times, to see for myself the true horrors of the first world war, and the futility of the attacks on enemy forces. It was especially poignant, when local guides took me to old battle fields sights and described the battle tactics that took place. The huge casualty lists that resulted from these skirmishes, was a desperate realisation to me, of the traumas of total war. As an ex-soldier, I shuddered at the thought of the unnecessary deaths, as it was obvious to me, that when these military operations went wrong, soldiers should have re-grouped and learned from their mistakes. This, however, was never the case, and tens of thousands of British and commonwealth soldiers died unnecessarily, on practically every advancement. On top of this, I was aware that the front line was male territory only, although later in the war, female nurses did operate close to the front line in primitive field hospitals. I didn’t realise it at the time, but this sowed a seed, which was to develop several months later.

So, my inspiration, partly came from these beginnings and as I progressed writing the storyline, I began finding a way to bring my main character, Ed Mitchell, to be the Son her father never had, who thrived under adversity. A robust character, who was bored with her life in Edwardian Britain, who dared to dream, that her life could be so utterly different. It was then, I delved into unknown territory and during some research on enlistment, the idea came to me about her taking the place of her brother, and to go to war in his place. Once this idea had formed, the concept and storyline flourished, and the plot thickened.

So, when I decided I wanted to write this WW1 novel, I started off linking back to my roots, as my family were originally from Gloucestershire. I developed an idea around a young woman, not unlike a great Aunt of mine from my childhood, who I remembered was robust and disciplined lady, with a strong sense of loyalty, who’s ability, towered above her elder sister. This was combined with a friend of mine who told me stories of her life on a small family farm, where she worked to emulate her Father, who in time, became as capable as him. So, these two people helped me create my heroine, as a strong capable person, who let nothing get in her way to succeed. It was necessary to create a twin brother, who had to be weak and feeble to unlock my story’s direction. She, like my Aunt, and my friend, were keen to compete with men in their own World.

In WW1, Germany had a well-trained army, superior in many ways up until late 1916. On reading material about the German army sniper sections and their advanced telescopic sights, I created a link to the British sniper team which was actually formed by the officer named in my book, Major Hesketh-Pritchard, and her line within the story began to take shape. Then, the manuscript started to charge ahead, and openings seemed to come to me almost every day, particularly the way her priest supported her, which I felt was a powerful storyline, that brought in so many aspects of human behaviour and possible links to enemy forces. The decision to introduce an arrogant senior officer into play, was balanced by the desperate measures taken by others, to save her. My storytelling never waned from that day, and my imagination ran riot. I began pulling ideas from many areas of the military machine that I knew of and had experienced personally, beginning with a miscarriage of justice, and carefully managed arrests back in the UK. I then just needed a great ending! Once I had that, a sequel, was a certainty…

 

Author Information

John Kimbrey served in the Royal Marines for twenty-five years and has travelled the world extensively. He visited Antarctica three times on exploratory and scientific expeditions and was awarded the Polar medal. He lived in New Zealand for seven years, and now lives in Lincolnshire.

In Her Sights, his first novel, depicts the heroism of soldiers in the great war, demonstrates the very best and worst of soldiers of the time. It is the first book of a trilogy that focuses on this period, and, unexpectedly, its main protagonist is a woman. She thrives on many challenges the war offers her, and ultimately becomes a cool and calculated killer.

The sequel to In Her Sights is finished and John has several months of editing and fine tuning ahead of him before it is published.

John has enjoyed reading since childhood, and always felt he had a book in him, but now feels there are many more to come. His writing style is open and reactionary, and whether it’s a gift or luck, his creative mind always develops a variety of plotlines. He gets so absorbed sometimes that ideas flow quicker than he can write them down.

John loves the great outdoors and enjoys exercise. He cycles every week and makes regular visits to his local gym. He was widowed in 2014 and has two married children and three grandchildren.

 


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