Lovely M W Arnold has always been a fabulous supporter of Linda’s Book Bag, and it is beyond time he had a return visit to the blog. Last time, I was delighted to host an extract from Mick’s The Season of Love which you can see here. Today, it gives me great pleasure to welcome Mick to stay in with me to chat about his latest book as part of Rachel’s Random Resources blog blitz.
Staying in with M W Arnold
Welcome back to Linda’s Book Bag Mick. Thank you so much for staying in with me.
Hi Linda. It’s wonderful to be here with you today. Thank you very much for inviting me.
I have a pretty good idea, but tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share today.
I’ve brought my very first saga. It’s called A Wing and a Prayer and is the first story in the Broken Wings series.
How exciting to have a new series. What made you decide to write a saga this time?
This is a genre I kind of fell into. I had previously had a Women’s Fiction novel published before having a hard couple of years health wise. It was during this that a good friend and fellow author – I still find it hard to think of myself as such, but I’m working on that – Elaine Everest, suggest that I try my hand at something new, something I hadn’t previously started.
I’m sorry to hear you’ve been unwell Mick, but Elaine’s a real support to other authors isn’t she? So what happened next?
This got me thinking and following the old adage, write what you know, I decided to look back into World War Two.
Serendipity must take some blame for my choosing this genre, as I found myself watching a program about the Spitfire Women of WW2. Before I really knew it, I had some characters sketched out, even the beginning of a plot! I’ve always been more of a pantster than a planster. I have never written a first draft so quickly in my life! It seemed as if the characters wanted to get out of my head and onto the page as quickly as possible.
That must have been incredibly exciting.
Before I knew it – not quite, but it seems it when looking back on it – there was an offer of a contract and I’d broken the hoodoo of the second contract.
Congratulations Mick. That’s just wonderful. Tell us a bit more about A Wing and a Prayer.
This novel is set in the world of the Air Transport Auxiliary service, specifically around the pilots and staff of the all-women base at RAF Hamble, just outside Southampton. As well as following the three main women as they discover how to live and work together, they find themselves mixed up in a dangerous mystery as they try to find who was responsible for the murder of their landlady’s sister. Thus is born the Air Transport Auxiliary Mystery Club.
That’s a smashing hook into A Wing and a Prayer.
Quite unintentionally, I’ve stumbled on a genre of writing that I adore! There is a lot of research for these type of novels, hopefully I haven’t made too many errors, but that is actually a joy. I’ve found out so much more and have such a profound admiration for the ladies, and gentlemen, who flew these aircraft from factories and maintenance units, so our pilots could defend us. Without them, the Battle of Britain would have proved so much harder to endure and win.
I think A Wing and a Prayer is a perfect book for a dark winter’s evening Mick and I’ll be sharing my review after we’ve finished speaking. So, what else have you brought to share with us?
I’ve brought along some dishes from the 1940’s, so I hope you’re a little adventurous so far as your appetite is concerned?
Hmm. That depends on what you’ve brought…
The Rock Buns are delicious, though I would advise you to stay in the present and use lashing of lovely smooth butter!
I’ll certainly give those a try Mick. Not least because any baking I do, regardless of the recipe and intention, usually ends up as a rock bun!
I did ask if you were adventurous! I’m a good cook, so long as there’s a recipe to follow, and with this dish there is plenty of potato so, again, plenty of butter.
Ok then. I’ll give it a go!
For afters, I hope you like apples? You can’t really go wrong with apple crumble, can you. Again, I would say cheat and add some cream over the top.
Now you’re talking. I’m definitely an apple crumble fan.
Do you like Guinness? The American character in the novel falls in love with ‘the black stuff’, so I thought it’d be quite apt if we chase down our food with some of this nectar.
It’s a bit strong for me on its own but I like it in a shandy. I’m quite surprised you didn’t bring some fish and chips too – I think Doris would have liked them!
I do like to listen to music whilst I write. For some reason, I find it very difficult to write in silence. Do you have this problem? Anyway, I especially love to write to Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys. However, for this one, I found myself first listening to an anthology of Glenn Miller and then Tommy Dorsey and Ella Fitzgerald (what a voice!). If I needed a little light-hearted music, I’ve a cd of Danny Kaye. Okay, he was a little later than WW2, but he made so many great records!
I’m not so keen on the Beach Boys Mick, but I’d love to listen to Glenn Miller and Ella Fitzgerald with you whilst we eat.
Well, perhaps I’d better say goodbye – hopefully only until next time – and let you go and work on the stomach ache I’ve probably given you.
It’s been a pleasure Mick and I’m delighted to share my review of A Wing and a Prayer when I’ve given blog readers a few more details.
My thanks for having me Linda, it’s been wonderful and I look forward to seeing you again soon. Take good care xx
A Wing and a Prayer
When Betty Palmer’s sister dies under suspicious circumstances whilst landing her Tiger Moth, Betty and three other women pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary in WWII England unite to discover who killed her and why.
Estranged from her family, Penny Blake wants simply to belong. American Doris Winter, running from a personal tragedy, yearns for a new start. Naturally shy Mary Whitworth-Baines struggles to fit in. Together though, they are a force to be reckoned with as they face the mystery that confronts them.
Against the backdrop of war, when ties of friendship are exceptionally strong, they strive to unravel the puzzle’s complex threads, risking their lives as they seek justice for Betty’s sister.
My Review of A Wing and a Prayer
Eleanor’s death might have been more than an accident.
A Wing and a Prayer is a smashing read. I don’t often read sagas and feel foolish for not finding time for them more frequently if M W Arnold’s A Wing and a Prayer is anything to go by. This story has everything. There’s friendship, history, intrigue and romance in an entertaining blend that I thoroughly enjoyed.
A Wing and a Prayer opens in dramatic style that captivates the reader instantly and M W Arnold’s lightness of touch as he introduces the women in this story, unites then with a common aim, and makes the reader care about them, is so well done. Whilst mystery very much drives the narrative, with a traditional Agatha Christie or Golden Age style, the assiduousness of research shines through so that the reader feels a confidence in the factual detail underpinning the story which adds to the enjoyment in the book. Everything from the food, through shady black market dealings, to clothing and aeronautical operations, adds depth and colour that I thought was wonderful. M W Arnold’s descriptions really bring the story alive without ever slowing the pace or feeling extraneous, so that there’s a visual quality to the read too.
I thought the balance of emotions worked very effectively, especially with humour, particularly through Bobby the dog, to counterbalance the darker moments. I found myself caught up in the narrative, willing on the women who are warm and vivid. Each one has a slightly flawed personality, often resulting from events in their past lives and I think it would be wonderful to see them in future stories too. I really appreciated the manner with which they all made the most of the life they had been allocated at the time and I had a particular soft spot for Doris whom I’d like to meet in real life.
Although it might sound a peculiar comment, I thought A Wing and a Prayer was the perfect example of a time when grit and determination, friendship and loyalty, would help steer us through the most difficult times. Reading M W Arnold has somehow restored my faith in my fellow humans and shown me that we can succeed if we work together and this is a much needed message in today’s world. A Wing and a Prayer is super stuff. It’s entertaining, warm and engaging. I loved it.
About M W Arnold
Mick is a hopeless romantic who was born in England and spent fifteen years roaming around the world in the pay of HM Queen Elisabeth II in the Royal Air Force before putting down roots and realizing how much he missed the travel. This he’s replaced somewhat with his writing, including reviewing books and supporting fellow saga and romance authors in promoting their novels.
He’s the proud keeper of two Romanian cats, is mad on the music of Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys, and enjoys the theatre and loving his Manchester-United-supporting wife.
Finally, Mick is a full member of the Romantic Novelists Association. A Wing and a Prayer is his second published novel, and he is very proud to be welcomed into The Rose Garden.
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