All posts by Goylake Publishing

Dear Reader #33

Dear Reader,

My sales top ten this week. Many thanks to everyone who supports my books.

Some people stand out. If you watch this video you will see what I mean. Currently, I’m reading dozens of books about twenty-one female SOE agents. All these women were remarkable, but some stand out even amongst such illustrious company.

This research will shape my SOE agents, Eve and Mimi. It’s an honour to read about these people, and their stories are gold dust for an author. So many ideas spring from every page. It’s very exciting.

Local views this week, at Sger.

Women of Courage, Heroines of the SOE

More research for my forthcoming Eve’s War series.

Lise Marie Jeanette de Baissac was born on 11 May 1905 in Mauritius, which made her a British subject. Of French descent, she was the youngest of three children.

In 1919 Lise and her family moved to Paris. When the Germans occupied Paris in 1940 Jean, her eldest brother, joined the British Army while Lise and her youngest brother, Claude, travelled for six months through Spain, Portugal and Gibraltar before arriving in Britain.

In Britain, Claude was recruited by the SOE while initially Lise worked at the Daily Sketch newspaper. Soon, Lise joined Claude in the SOE. However, instead of being trained for the usual roles of courier or wireless operator, Lise was instructed to create her own resistance circuit.

Lise de Baissac

Lise trained with Mary Herbert, Jacqueline Nearne and Odette Sansom. She impressed her trainers with her ability and her imperturbable, cool reactions. They regarded her as intelligent, strong-minded and decisive, with a flair for organisation.

On 24 September 1942, Lise and Andrée Borrel were the first female SOE agents to parachute into France. The agents jumped from a Whitley bomber and landed in the village of Boisrenard near the town of Mer. Their mission was to establish a safe house in Poitiers where new agents could settle into their secret lives.

An Armstrong Whitworth Whitley c1940

Lise’s role was to form a new circuit and to establish a centre where agents could go with complete security for material help and information on local details, and to organise the pick-up of arms drops from Britain to assist the French resistance.

Cover stories were vital to SOE agents. For her cover story Lise was Madame Irene Brisse, a poor widow from Paris, seeking refuge in the provinces from the tension of life in the capital. She moved into an apartment on a busy street near the Gestapo HQ, and became acquainted with the Gestapo chief, Herr Grabowski.

Posing as an amateur archeologist, Lise cycled around the countryside to reconnoitre possible parachute drop-zones and landing areas for the RAF. When local networks collapsed and the Gestapo closed in, Lise was flown back to Britain. There, while assisting new recruits in training, she broke her leg.

With her leg healed, on 10 April 1944 Lise returned to France where she rejoined her brother Claude. After D-Day, she gathered information on German dispositions and passed that information on to the Allies. She was bold enough to rent a room in a house occupied by the local commander of the German Forces.

According to Lise, on one occasion, “The Germans arrived and threw me out of my room. I arrived to take my clothes and found they had opened up the parachute I had made into a sleeping bag and were sitting on it. Fortunately they had no idea what it was.”

In the summer of 1944 Lise enjoyed another lucky escape when cycling from Normandy to Paris. She was searched by a young soldier at a German checkpoint while carrying spare parts of radio sets around her waist. Later, Lise said, “He searched me very carefully. I knew he could feel the things I was carrying. But he said nothing. Perhaps he was looking for a weapon like a revolver, maybe he thought it was a belt. I do not know.”

Claude de Baissac

Lise’s colleagues spoke very highly of her. Captain Blackman, the leader of an SAS party in France wrote: “Every day she would cycle sixty or seventy kilometres. She often carried much compromising material on her person and bicycle, such as wireless material and secret documents. If she had been discovered carrying such things she would have been undoubtedly shot on the spot without trial or formal enquiry. Consequently she risked her life daily.”

Lise continued her SOE activities until the liberation, organising several groups and providing the Allies with information. She was also involved in sabotage missions, setting tyre bursters and mines on roads used by the military, cutting telephone wires, underground cables and railway lines. On at least one occasion she took part in an attack on an enemy column.

After the war Lise married Gustave Villameur, an artist and interior designer living in Marseille. She died on 29 March 2004, aged 98.

In 2008, Lise’s life was recaptured in the highly fictionalised French film Female Agents (Les Femmes de l’ombre).

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

Dear Reader #32

Dear Reader,

My new banner featuring some old favourites and forthcoming titles.

My sales on Apple so far this year reveal a pleasant surprise…Digging in the Dirt (Sam) is my current bestseller followed by Secrets and Lies (Sam), Smoke and Mirrors (Sam) and Blackmail (Ann). Digging in the Dirt was great fun to write so I’m delighted that my readers like it too.

Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Shakespearean actress Melinda Mullins. You can read that interview here https://issuu.com/momsfavoritereads/docs/january_2020

Melinda is also a talented artist. Here is an example of her work.

To see more of Melinda’s beautiful paintings and drawings please visit her website http://www.emcleobryant.com

Many thanks to Gloria for her lovely translation of Mind Games into Spanish. We have started the publishing process and the book will be available soon.

This is my 45th translation, sixteen of them into Spanish, with more in progress.

My local beach this week.

My personal top ten this week. Many thanks to everyone who supports my books.

Women of Courage, Heroines of the SOE.
More details from my Eve’s War research.

Valentine Blanche Charlet, born in Belgium on 23 May 1898, was one of the oldest female SOE agents to serve in France. Blanche worked as a courier for the SOE and held the rank of Field Agent and Guerrilla Commander. Before the Second World War she lived in Brussels where she managed an art gallery.

Blanche was one of the first four female agents the SOE trained. When she arrived in France, on 1 September 1942, she worked with fellow agent and wireless operator Brian Stonehouse. 

On 24 October 1942, German detector vans picked up Stonehouse’s radio signals while he was transmitting to London. They tracked him down to his safe house and arrested him. Before the Germans left, Blanche arrived for a pre-arranged meeting with Stonehouse and she too was arrested and interned in Castres Prison. 

The Germans held Blanche until September 1943 when she secured guns and spare keys from a sympathetic Yugoslavian wardress. Along with French resistante Suzanne Charisse and thirty-five others, Blanche escaped.

Blanche and Suzanne reached open country and, helped by Benedictine monks, they took refuge in a monastery. 

The monks sheltered Blanche and Suzanne in a guest house for two months before the women followed an escape route into the Pyrénées. However, the heavy winter snow prevented them from crossing into Spain.

In the spring of 1944, Blanche made her way to Brittany where she boarded a lifeboat ferrying supplies and fresh agents. German patrol boats were waiting. However, despite them and a gunfight, Blanche made her escape. 

Blanche reached safely on 20 April 1944. She made her report and stated that the practice interrogations she had endured with the SOE had saved her life. In more peaceful circumstances, she lived until 1985.

Mary Katherine Herbert was born in Ireland on 1 October 1903. 

At the outbreak of the Second World War, Mary worked in the British Embassy in Warsaw, then as a civilian translator in the Air Ministry. She joined the WAAF on 19 September 1941 and, at her own request, transferred to the SOE in May 1942, aged thirty-nine.

A well educated woman with a degree in art, Mary was fluent in French, German, Italian and Spanish. She also obtained a diploma from the University of Cairo in Arabic. 

Mary trained with Lise de Baissac, a contact who later would have a significant influence on her life. 

Mary arrived in France on 30 October 1942. She travelled to Bordeaux to act as a courier for the Scientist circuit, using the codename Claudine. In keeping with fellow SOE agents she travelled by bicycle and train, liaised with the French Resistance, carried messages, sought safe houses and potential recruits. Another task familiar to Mary and her fellow agents was to arrange and attend parachute drops as fresh agents arrived in France.

In France, Mary caught up with Lise de Baissac. She also met Lise’s brother, Claude. An affair between Mary and Claude produced a daughter, Claudine, born in December 1943. After the birth, Mary and Claudine moved into a flat maintained by Lise.

On 18 February 1944, the Gestapo raided Lise’s flat and arrested Mary in the belief that she was Lise. Separated from her baby daughter, Mary remained in prison until Easter 1944. During that time she created a cover story for herself stating that she was Madame Marie Louise Vernier, a Frenchwoman from Egypt. Despite interrogation by the Gestapo, Mary did not waver from her cover story.

Upon her release, Mary hid in a small country house near Poitiers. In September 1944, after a difficult search conducted in trying times, she was reunited with Claude and Lise.

Mary and Claude, marriage index

Mary married Claude in November 1944. After the war, she lived a quieter life giving private French lessons.

Mary died on 23 January 1983 with her daughter Claudine at her side.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

Dear Reader #31

Dear Reader,

A lovely week for my books with Sam’s Song reaching #2 on the private investigator’s chart. The book has already reached #1 seven times, which is beyond my expectations 🙂

Great to see that Snow in August is still a Hot 💯 New Release sitting alongside New York Times bestselling author Harlan Coben 🙂

This week I completed the first draft of The Olive Tree: Roots, a Spanish Civil War Saga. The editing of Snow in August, Sam Smith Mystery Series book sixteen is also going well. Both books are available for pre-order.

My research this week centred on Eve’s War, my Special Operations Executive series. I’m studying the lives of twenty-one female agents. Here are the remarkable stories of two of them.

The exact number of Special Operations Executive agents who served in France isn’t known, but the female branch is estimated at forty. The two female agents in my Eve’s War series are a composite of twenty-one of those agents and my stories are based on their real-life experiences.

Giliana Balmaceda

Giliana Balmaceda was the first female agent the SOE sent to occupied France. Born in Chile c1910 she worked as an actress in Paris where she met Victor Gerson, a British citizen and a dealer in fine rugs and carpets.

The couple married and on 18 June 1940, at the signing of the armistice, they escaped to Britain where they joined the SOE.

Victor Gerson suggested creating a network of helpers to assist the entrance and exit of SOE agents assigned to France and Giliana volunteered to assess the possibility.

In May 1941 the SOE sent Giliana into occupied France. She returned through Spain in late June 1941. During her three months in France Giliana travelled freely in Lyons and Vichy, ostensibly on holiday, her Chilean passport securing her passage.

With a large haul of intelligence, contacts and administrative documents, such as ration cards, Giliana returned to Britain. There, the SOE reproduced the documents and subsequently agents used them on their clandestine missions.

Sonya Butt

Sonya Esmée Florence Butt, also known as Sonya d’Artois, was the youngest female SOE agent to serve in France. Born on 14 May 1924, Sonya worked as a courier for the Headmaster network under the code name Blanche.

Sonya Butt

Sonya’s role of courier brought her into contact with German check-points. The SOE preferred female agents as couriers because when travelling around the district on bicycles they were less likely to attract attention compared to males of military or working age.

Sonya joined the SOE, aged 19, on 11 December 1943. Her training included soldiering skills and stamina development, plus specialist skills for her life in occupied France. This training regime was new to women at the time. However, the training was familiar to men, including a French-Canadian army officer, Captain Guy D’Artois, whom Sonya met and later married.

Sonya Butt and Guy D’Artois

On 28 May 1944, the SOE parachuted Sonya into Le Mans to work as a courier. She arrived nine days before D-Day. A fellow agent who landed with her was shot, so Sonya took on his role of weapons instructor. As a courier, she carried money, delivered messages and maintained contact with fellow SOE agents and the French Resistance.

After D-Day, the Allies liberated Sonya’s district. However, before then two German soldiers detained her for questioning. Thankfully, her cover story and false papers withstood the interrogation and she was released.

Sonya Butt

In October 1944, Sonya returned to Britain. She married Guy d’Artois and the couple lived in Canada where they raised six children, three boys and three girls.

Sonya died on 21 December 2014 at the age of 90. It is a remarkable fact that of the twenty-one agents who form the background for my two SOE characters two-thirds of them lived well into their eighties and nineties.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

Dear Reader #30

Dear Reader,

I’m delighted to be a member of the talented team involved in Mom’s Favorite Reads.

And to start the new year in style, here’s our January 2020 issue featuring an exclusive interview with Melinda Mullins, star of Remember WENN, M*A*S*H and the Shakespearean stage, a Romance Roundtable, Anna Grace discusses mental health, young writers and so much more.

The new year promises to be my busiest yet with six books scheduled: two Sam Smith novels, Snow in August and Looking For Rosanna Mee; Roots and Branches, the first two novellas in The Olive Tree, A Spanish Civil War Saga; plus Operation Zigzag and Operation Locksmith, the first two novellas in my Eve’s War series about the Special Operations Executive and the French Resistance.

Yesterday, I wrote the first draft of chapters one and two of The Olive Tree: Roots. The stories in this series will be told from two viewpoints: a nurse, Heini Hopkins, and a socialite author, Naomi Parker. Heini rides a bicycle while Naomi drives this SS Jaguar 100, pictured outside the SS Cars building in 1937.

The ‘100’ was the car’s top speed while this image represents the first recorded use of the Jaguar ‘leaper’ mascot.

In Roots, book one of The Olive Tree, my nurse Heini Hopkins is at home tending her sick mother. This item is from my domestic research into the period. I remember using carpet cleaners like these when I visited my grandparents’ house.

A mangle, another item from my domestic research into the 1930s. My nurse, Heini Hopkins, would certainly be familiar with this item, and I can remember seeing similar models when I visited my grandparents’ house.

In The Olive Tree, Heini Hopkins is a nurse specialising in tuberculosis. As the story opens she is tending Mari, her sick mother.

For centuries, tuberculosis was considered ‘the romantic disease’ because it ‘assisted artistic talent’. People believed that the fever and toxaemia associated with tuberculosis helped artists to see life more clearly and that this clarity of mind liberated their creative muse.

You can read my full article here https://hannah-howe.com/the-olive-tree/tuberculosis/

Local views this morning, at Sger.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

Dear Reader #29

Dear Reader,

Delighted to announce the launch of a new series, The Olive Tree.

Roots, book one of The Olive Tree is now available to pre-order 🙂 Book two, Branches, will follow later in 2020 while the series will conclude with Leaves, Fruit and Flowers in 2021.

Here’s the universal link and book description.

https://books2read.com/u/3yvAOL

The Olive Tree – A Spanish Civil War Saga

Set between April 1937 and December 1938, The Olive Tree is a mini-series of five novellas based on true events.

The stories in The Olive Tree – Roots, Branches, Leaves, Fruit and Flowers chronicle the lives of Heini Hopkins, a young nurse from an impoverished part of South Wales, and Naomi Parker, a wealthy author from a privileged background.

In Roots, Heini is home in Wales nursing her sick mother while Naomi is attending launch parties for her latest novel. The civil war in Spain seems a world away, until the fascists bomb and destroy Guernica, murdering hundreds of men, women and children. Heini’s boyfriend, Deiniol Price, a coal miner, feels he must rally to the Spanish Republic’s cause and volunteer for the International Brigades while Naomi’s paramour, Count Nicolas Esteban, a pilot, dreams of glory, fighting for the fascists.

Should the women leave the safety of Wales for the bloody battlefields of Spain? And if they decide to follow their men, what fate awaits them?

Day One of Snow in August on pre-order, and an early Christmas present for Sam. The book is a top 💯 hot new release, sitting alongside mega-bestseller Johnathan Kellerman 🙂

This is exciting, after one day of pre-orders Roots, book one in The Olive Tree, a Spanish Civil War Saga, is #15 on Amazon’s hot new releases chart 🙂

They do things with such grace and elegance on the Continent. Paris Opera’s ballet dancers protesting against austerity.

”Okay, Stan, here’s the plan. We’ll get all the lads from the steelworks to dress up in tutus…”

Could get messy. As with all of Johnson’s policies, I don’t think he’s thought this one through…

Dear reader, this will all make sense when you’re sober in the morning…

Santa knows me too well 🤣

Santa also delivered all these lovely books and DVDs, most to help me with my Spanish Civil War and Eve’s War series.

To my beloved…

Of course, I might be thinking murderous thoughts 😉

The top twelve countries for my books over the past quarter. Many thanks to all my readers for making this another wonderful year.

Happy New Year,

Hannah  xxx

Dear Reader #28

Dear Reader,

Snow in August, Sam Smith Mystery Series book sixteen, is now available to pre-order from all major Internet stores, including Amazon. Here is the universal link 🙂

https://books2read.com/u/bpEv8J

As a teenager, Ros McCarthy offered Mark, her baby son, up for adoption. Now, as an adult and a successful author, she wanted to reconnect. With Faye at my side, our task was to locate Mark.

Along the way we learned about Ty Gwyn, a children’s home, and the people who lived and worked there. However, as we probed, some people became nervous and issued threats.

Then, unexpectedly, a murder. Was the murder and our investigation into Mark’s whereabouts connected, or merely coincidence? I suspected the former, then had my doubts as the maze became more complex.

Snow in August, the story of a village and its secrets, a tale of longing and regret, and the realisation on my part that you should always cherish the people you love.

Sam dominates my personal top ten this week. And a new number one, Boston, a story set at Christmas 🎄 

On behalf of Mom’s Favorite Reads I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Melinda Mullins. Melinda is a mult-talented actress and artist with Shakespearian productions, appearances in M*A*S*H and a starring role in Remember WENN to her name. She’s also led a fascinating life away from the television screen, living in the New Mexico wilderness away from the modern world, and now in rural France. In our interview Melinda talks about her career highlights and offers a revealing insight into her creativity and her personal life. The full interview will be published in January 2020, in Mom’s Favorite Reads.

Many thanks to Adriana for another wonderful translation. We have started the publishing process and the book will be available soon.

As editor of Mom’s Favorite Reads I’m delighted to support Christmas For CAMHS this Christmas. Learn more about this excellent organisation here https://t.co/CSEh8cHiRB?amp=1

Congratulations to my friend and Mom’s Favorite Reads’ cofounder Rebecca Carter (who writes as Ronesa Aveela). Her book about household spirits is referenced in Time magazine!

https://time.com/5753369/the-witcher-history-folklore

It’s believed that the first photograph of a snowman was taken in Wales by Mary Dillwyn (c.1853) one of the first female photographers in the world.

Me, in the bathroom, every morning 🤣

Merry Christmas!

Hannah xxx

Dear Reader #27

Dear Reader,

I’m writing chapter twenty-five of Snow in August, Sam Smith Mystery Series book sixteen. Thomas Johnes gets a mention in this chapter. Born in 1748, Thomas Johnes was an MP, printer, writer, landscape architect and farmer. He owned the Hafod Estate where between 1796 and 1801 he planted 2,065,000 trees. In total he planted over three million trees, half a million of them in 1801. We could do with his like today.

Pictured: the Hafod Estate

Snow in August, will be available for pre-order soon. All forthcoming editions of my books will contain a charity page and that page will include this excellent organisation. Please check them out.

https://www.facebook.com/streetvet/

Delighted that Adriana has agreed to continue her translations of my Ann’s War Mystery Series. She’s an excellent translator and I’m honoured that she is associated with my books 🙂 Here is Invasion. Blackmail will follow soon, then Escape.

My personal top ten this week. Nice to see Stardust in there because that was a fun book to write.

This song seems appropriate this week…

Now they’re planning the crime of the century

Well, what will it be?

Read all about their schemes and adventuring

Yes, it’s well worth the fee

So roll up and see

How they rape the universe

How they’ve gone from bad to worse

Who are these men of lust, greed and glory?

Rip off their masks and let’s see

But that’s not right, oh, no, what’s the story?

Look, there’s you and there’s me

That can’t be right?!

Viva la revolución

Week one of Boris Johnson’s new regime and everything is going well so far…

Johnson, in the near future, quoting Kipling.

‘I could not dig: I dared not rob: 

Therefore I lied to please the mob. 

Now all my lies are proved untrue 

And I must face the men I slew. 

What tale shall serve me here among 

Mine angry and defrauded young?’

A friend went for a job interview. The interviewer said, “Describe yourself in three words.” She said, “Not good at maths.” She got the job 😉

Local views this morning.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx