Night Soldiers — what?

The title of my book is not “Night Soldiers”! I gave that up years ago, when the heroine was Polly and she was a nurse, then a maid, then a nurse again.

It’s “Tin Soldiers”! “TIN”! Mary Margaret (Emmy) Leary runs off after her sister drowns to become a volunteer nurse aide, known as a V.A.D., in World War I England.

I figured out that if I wrote 10 pages a week, by my birthday, June 27, I should have 200 pages, and one of them should include “The End.” It’s a second draft. It has to go faster than the first draft. I just have to factor in time for research. I made some stuff up the first time that was not all accurate to period. There’s a limit to how close I can get to reality from this side of the pond, but I’ll do my best. I just needed more books, which I’d rather not buy … but there’s no place I can borrow them. The Detroit Public Library system doesn’t happen to have anything on Britain on the home front during the Great War.

10 pages a week should be doable, right? The big question I have to answer is: Why does she run off impersonating her sister?

Why would she do something like that? It’s the sort of thing I wish I would do myself, but I’m much too shy. I could never make myself walk onto a ward of wounded soldiers — I wouldn’t even be able to speak to the nurses. It takes me a while to warm up to people. Emmy doesn’t have that kind of time, she jumps into the deep end of the pool — sorry, bad taste, considering her sister drowned — and has to swim no matter what.

Connie is her advocate, but why? What is it about Emmy that draws Connie to her from the outset?

So, there are two big questions and then lots of little ones, all of them starting with “Why?” If I can’t make sense of these things, the reader will never believe me.

Helmet girl
Here I am in my tin hat in Romagne, France, near the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial.

10 pages a week. I can do it. I’ve carried this book next to my heart for years now. It came to me after my first three trips to the Front, after I got over my sex novel. Everyone should write a sex novel. Then destroy it.

Author: Susan Hall-Balduf

I am a writer, a World War I historian, a devotee of the performing arts, and somebody's Nana.

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