In Patriots I use the background of the Cold War as the setting in which to portray the way in which the lives of Nikolai Serov and Edmund Knight intersect and come into conflict because of choices each man made many years previously – secret decisions and loyalties that I reveal only gradually.
I called the novel Patriots because I wanted to point to the irony that patriotism is sometimes no more than a cloak for motivations that are far less noble.
Villa Normandie, on the other hand, is about true patriotism. The obvious examples are the patriotism of Jeanne Dupré and her fellow Resistance fighters and that of the Englishman Daniel Benedict. But I think the novel’s evil Nazi, Jürgen Graf, is also a patriot, although in his case his loyalty is to a cause that is despicable and perverted. Klaus Ebermann and Ernst Neiss are patriots too, but their commitment is to a vision of Germany that is very different from Graf’s. I try to show Ebermann and Neiss as basically honourable men caught up in the moral dilemmas that war brings.
Both novels are also about love and loss, the struggle to survive against the odds, sacrifice, and the conflict between innocence and evil.
Charlie’s War is a mystery story set in the Second World War. Fighter pilot Charlie Quinn crash-lands in France. A mysterious Englishman appears from nowhere and begins to help him. As Charlie struggles to survive, we realise that there are events in his past that haunt him – and that the mystery at the story’s heart is somehow connected with the enigmatic Englishman. Who is he? What is he doing in occupied France? Why is he helping Charlie? I don’t want to spoil the plot for anyone who hasn’t yet read the book, so I’ll leave these questions unanswered.
Charlie’s War is about war, certainly, especially war in the air, but it is also about love – in particular, a love that can transcend death.