Thursday, December 29, 2016

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Allison

Do you ever get so involved in a book's character that you wonder about their backstory? I do, so I thought I take a few minutes and sit down with Allison White, the main character my upcoming post-WWII novelette being released by Celebrate Lit Publishing this spring. For those of you who read Love's Harvest, you may remember Allison. She was the young woman who befriended Rosa Hirsch, the German widow who fled to England in 1940 with her mother-in-law Noreen.

Inspiration for
Allison's character
Linda: Allison, it's a delight to have to stop by the blog today. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Allison: Sure. It's a pleasure to be here. I was born on December 25, 1920 in Cotswold, England. I don't have any siblings, and unfortunately I lost my mum and dad in the Blitz, but I have a wonderful circle of friends, and Rosa's mother-in-law, Noreen treats me like a daughter.

Linda: Noreen is a basket-weaver and makes gorgeous willow baskets. What sort of creative activities do you like to do?

Allison: (laughing) Noreen tried to teach me to weave, but it was a disaster from the start. The only basket I made had a definite lean to it. Not unusable, but not my finest work. Then Rosa tried to teach me needlepoint and sewing, but those didn't work out well either. I finally found my niche in the kitchen. Apparently the chemistry of baking is a fit for me. I don't want to toot my own horn too loudly, but my bread and biscuits are lovely. Smooth texture and good taste. Rose usually has me make all the sweets.

Member of the WLA
Linda: I love to bake also. During the war, you worked for the Women's Land Army What was that like?

Allison: Brilliant. I loved it. I didn't want to be trapped inside a factory. Dark, dank, and dangerous. Sure, those girls made more money, but in the Land Army I didn't have to fear for my life. The days were long, especially during planting and harvesting seasons. We sometimes worked fourteen or sixteen hours days. But the weather was lovely, and we were making a real difference. Feeding the masses, you know. I learned to love farming thanks to the Land Army.

Linda: Is that why you chose to stay on at the Quincey's farm after the war? What sort of work are you involved in there?

Allison: With my parents gone, I have no family to speak of. There are a few cousins in Scotland, but I haven't seen them since I was a youngster. Rosa and Basil have been my family. It only made sense to stay with them. They still need help on the farm. Mr. Sullivan oversees the animals, and I handle the produce side of things. Although I must say I've seen enough potatoes to last a lifetime!

Linda:  Many young women your age don't go to university, yet you attended University of Manchester. Can you share about your experience?

Allison: My parents were keen on education, and they didn't care that I was a girl. They wanted me to get a degree, so I could be whatever I wanted. There were lots of rules, more so it seemed for the girls. Curfew and the like. But meals and laundry services were provided for us, and classes were wonderful. Lots of debate and discussion. I learned to think for myself at university. And I met lovely people, but the war changed all that. I had to do my bit, so I dropped out and joined the WLA.

Linda: How has your life changed since the war?

Allison: In many ways it hasn't. Many items are still rationed, although not as many on the farm. And even if something is available it's difficult to find. Shoes for example. I've patched my oxfords countless times. I'll be glad when I can find a new pair. But the country is moving on. We survived, so nothing seems so bad, although it's sad to see the families who have lost their boys and men. Some women lost husbands and sons. Before the war I never would have been promoted to manage anything, even part of a farm. Basil has given me a opportunity I probably would never have had. And Mr. Sullivan is coming round to working with a woman.

Linda: Thanks for stopping by and sharing a bit about yourself.

Allison: Thanks for hosting me. Folks should keep an eye on your blog and your Facebook page for information about our book coming out in the Spring. The publication date will be set soon, and a title will be forthcoming.

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