Now available on Kindle and in paperback, Intrusion, Book 1 of this coming-of-age WWII trilogy.
A Relative Invasion is set in 1937 to 1965. It has WW2 as a backdrop but it isn’t essentially a war story. It has a child narrator, but it isn’t written for children. I’ve attempted to reproduce in micro those very emotions which the frustrated, humiliated German nation experienced post WWI and which Hitler played upon. I’ve put them in the breast of Kenneth, an artistic, manipulative child, small for age and frail, when meeting his younger, stronger cousin. It’s this sturdy youngster, Billy, who is the innocent protagonist, suffering psychological bullying from his cousin, and physical bullying by his uncle. Intrusion starts the story as war in Europe threatens. Readers see how, in parallel, Billy’s predictable life will be threatened by Kenneth and a domestic war may begin.
The inferiority that six-year-olds can suffer is really the same as those of de-powered nations. What lay in the breast of Hitler, a poor specimen of a man without the kind of background he craved, was that desire to outdo and take over other leaders, other movements, other nations just as sickly Kenneth, whose muscly father Billy resembles, aims to over-reach Billy and encroach upon every aspect of his life. In this way he seeks to absorb another’s strength.
The adults with their own preoccupations fail to intervene.
Billy sustains his spirits by thinking of what he has secretly been shown; the shashka, a Cossack sabre with a special significance.
Billy has seen this in the home of his father’s colleague, Mr Durban. Caught up in his own fearful memories, Mr Durban’s WWI story of how he came to own the shashka captures Billy’s imagination. The shashka acts as an icon that supports Billy throughout hardships, separations, rejections and evacuations.
In Books 2 and 3 of the trilogy, Billy has known anxiety, distress, hardship and seen the trauma of others. He has learned of the dangers of distant warfare and the satisfaction of supporting the vulnerable. With increasing age and experience, he discovers the dangerous qualities of the shashka and, ultimately, those hidden within himself. For that reason, Books 2 and 3 are loss-of-innocence as well as a coming-of-age story, and therefore rather darker.
Billy is five at the beginning of Book 1 and in his twenties by the end of Book 3. His emotional and moral development occurs alongside the acting out and ending of World War II and similarly ends as the devastation caused by warfare at all levels must be faced and overcome.To the child himself, there is nothing twee about childhood – a fact that adults often fail to realise.
My intention in the writing of Billy’s story in this particular stage of history is to show that we understand at the macro level is happening in micro. Kenneth is a Germany to Billy’s Britishness, but Billy is blind to his inherent and acquired advantages as perceived by Kenneth.
To the child himself, there is nothing twee about childhood – a fact that adults often fail to realise.