Updated: Mar 19, 2020
Over four years ago, back in 2016 while searching for inspiration for a new story, I visited my local library. After a few hours I came across a photograph of Winston Churchill – Britain's pugnacious but passionate wartime Prime Minister – and I sensed I had something. Churchill was addressing war-weary troops in Libya, and only days after the Allied victory in the North African desert war campaign.
This powerful image compelled me to write a story about one of the men listening to Mr Churchill's victory speech that day in April 1943. An idea took root and once I began to write, the story became so very clear, as did the characters, settings, and the themes. I wanted to write a mystery, I wanted to write a love story, I wanted to write about relationships, and I wanted Winston Churchill in a cameo role.
The 'what ifs' begin at this point in story creation, and as I began to research the period and Winston Churchill more, and after a visit to Chartwell, I knew my main male protagonist had to be a bricklayer, just as Churchill had been; it was one of his favourite pastimes along with painting, writing, and of course, smoking cigars.
My soldier in Libya became Frank, Churchill's fictitious bricklayer at Chartwell, although the cast grew, incorporating Florence and Hilda. Inside my imagination the three became childhood friends. The story began to take shape. The mysteries and drama started to form, and after a few weeks of writing I decided the story needed a present timeline thread, and a grandson came to my mind; Frank's grandson, his favourite grandson. Richard was created.
In any dual timeline story it's imperative that the two threads, past and present, come together in a pleasing way, and as soon as Richard was 'born' I knew that way would be through Florence.
I continued to write The Walls We Build whilst attending the Faber Academy Novel Writing course in London, completing the novel in 2019.
Publication day, only 5 days from today, is an important landmark for me as a writer (both as Julie-Ann Corrigan and the Jules Hayes writer me) and I was keen to get my new "Jules Hayes - historical fiction writer" website up and running for my debut historical novel's publication. To celebrate, as well as to encourage new email subscribers, I'm running a competition to win a signed paperback copy of The Walls We Build. All you have to do is sign up to my email list on the Jules Hayes website. I promise I won't post very often! Your inbox will not be over-loaded! I do plan to blog about other authors and books I love too, and other stuff; about films, plays, travel (although at this point in time I won't be traveling very far!). I plan to pull the winner's name from Florence's red hat on the 2nd April 2020, and the book will be in the post the next day – in readiness to pass a few hours away at home … Stay safe everyone. Stay sane, and mostly stay at home as much as you can! Very warm wishes and love,