I am often asked about the research for my books. How is it done, what is involved, did you really go to these places? I decided early on while writing “The Bones” that I wanted my books to be as true to life as possible. I will say, it is quite a challenge writing stories that take place 80 years ago. As I am trying to write a fun, interesting story, I also want it to be historically accurate.
For The Secrets of Saint Joanna, I knew the story would revolve around the rise of the French Resistance and take place mainly in Occupied France. However, after visiting London twice, I decided to start the story in the heart of Britain, and one of the main reasons is I wanted to include one of the most interesting places I have been, The Churchill War Rooms.
The War Rooms have been preserved to their original wartime state after being abandoned after the war. Margaret Thatcher reopened them to the public in 1984, a fascinating insight into the working heart of wartime Britain.
Mason finds himself in the War Rooms in “The Secrets” and I tried to convey the excitement and nervous energy that I felt while visiting them. I stood in the halls transporting myself back to 1940 and imagining the everyday workings of these rooms.
It is an amazing place to visit if you are a World War 2 historian. Not many things are left in the world from those days, but the War Rooms sit exactly as they were 80 years ago.