~MBA&M IS PROUD TO PRESENT~
“THE LAST TELEGRAM”
So without further ado, please welcome….
MBA&M: Tell us about yourself.
LIZ: No, this isn’t a photo of me, but was taken (in the 1940s) inside the family’s silk mill which I lived next door to for the first 20 years of my life, and which is still weaving today. The company can be traced back to 1720 so you could say that silk is in my blood! My artist husband and I have two grown-up daughters and I have spent much of my life working as a news journalist for newspapers, BBC radio and television. We now live in Colchester, Essex, the first Roman capital of Britain (we still have a Roman wall and lots of temples!).
LIZ: It came when I was talking to my father, then in his 90s, about how they kept the mill going during the war by weaving parachute silk. Many of the characters are based on real people and real events. The real life counterpart for my hero, Stefan , was one of five German ‘Kindertransport’ boys my family sponsored to travel to England and work at the mill. One of them fell in love with a local girl and, after internment in Australia and fighting for the Allies in the jungles of Burma, returned to work at the mill, married and had a family, and lived a long and happy life. I couldn’t ignore such a romantic story!
MBA&M: What was the allure of devastation, silk production and war?
LIZ: War is a time of such dramatic events and heightened emotions so it makes for thilling fiction. As my character Robbie says, weaving parachute silk was as important as making aeroplanes and guns, and I wanted the book to be a tribute to the people who worked so hard behind the scenes, with little or no recognition.
MBA&M: What was the most challenging scene to write?
LIZ: Without a doubt, the scene where Gwen ‘comes out’ by showing Lily the life drawings she has make of her former lover. Gauging how a naïve 18 year old should react while also ‘staying cool’ was really tricky!
MBA&M: What was the most fascinating information you discovered in your research?
LIZ: Oh, where to start? Perhaps the most fascinating of all was the story of the yarn merchant (my Michael) who travelled to the Middle East to source raw silk. To be honest, I was a bit sceptical about how much difference this might have made until I went to the ‘throwing mill’, where the silk is spun, dyed and prepared for weaving. The manager took down a huge, dusty, leather-bound ledger and opened the pages – all in copperplate handwriting – at 1941/2. There I saw for my own eyes the large shipments of large quantities of ‘Syrian Raw’, recorded over many months. Suddenly, the story became completely real.
MBA&M: If you could pick one character in any book, who would it be and why?
LIZ: Sorry to be so predictable but it has to be Elizabeth Bennet in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. She’s clever, witty and strong minded, in an era when women were not meant to be any of those things. A prototype feminist.
MBA&M: What is next for you?
LIZ: My next novel, The Forgotten Seamstress, comes out in the UK in early 2014 and in the US shortly afterwards. The plot is based on the discovery of a piece of rare royal silk in an inherited patchwork quilt. My third novel, The Poppy Factory, is coming out later that year, to mark the anniversary of the First World War. The story is set in the factory where disabled servicemen and women make the Remembrance Day poppies.
MBA&M: How to connect with me and where to buy The Last Telegram.
LIZ: There’s more about me and my latest activities at www.liztrenow.com.The Last Telegram is going to be available through Barnes and Noble and many other good bookstores across the United States.
Thank you,for spending time with us and our readers. What a fascinating story!
- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (April 2, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1402279450
- ISBN-13: 978-1402279454
“A book to savor.”-Kate Furnivall, author of The Russian Concubine
We all make mistakes. Some we can fix.
But what happens when we can’t?
Decades ago, as Nazi planes dominated the sky, Lily Verner made a terrible choice. She’s tried to forget, but now an unexpected event pulls her back to the 1940s British countryside. She finds herself remembering the brilliant colors of the silk she helped to weave at her family’s mill, the relentless pressure of the worsening war, and the kind of heartbreaking loss that stops time.
In this evocative novel of love and consequences, Lily finally confronts the disastrous decision that has haunted her all these years. The Last Telegram uncovers the surprising truth about how the stories we weave about our lives are threaded with truth, guilt, and forgiveness.
“Sparked my interest from the start…charming.”-Sharon Knoth, Between the Covers, Harbor Springs, MI
“This book will easily appeal to fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and I can see it quickly becoming a favorite of book clubs.”-Billie Bloebaum, Powell’s Books
We hope you have enjoyed our visit with Liz Trenow.