Kirsten Delighted to Host First Book Launch Party for WW1 Book

Local author, Kirsten Dougal launched her new book; Wartime on Sanctuary Lane on Thursday evening last week at Jacobini on Hart Street.

This is Kirsten’s fourth published book.  Her first Another Us was followed by two Post Office Girls books based in WW1 under the author name Poppy Cooper which were all published during the pandemic and therefore this was Kirsten’s first ‘proper’ book launch party.  As the story is based in WW1, guests were invited to wear a splash of red.

Wartime on Sanctuary Lane has been promoted as Call the Midwife meets All Creatures Great and Small based in the London East End in WW1.  The backdrop is that most of the vets in WW1 went to the front line because it was a very horse based war so they went to look after the horses.  The vets that were left in England were pretty much only concerned with the horses of the rich or the dogs of the King.  They certainly weren’t interested in the small ‘fluffies’ (name for dogs and cats at the time).  It follows the story of Ruby who can’t ignore the abandoned animals scavenging the local streets. Mustering all of her courage, she decides to take action and open a weekly animal clinic.

Radio 2 Book Club Pick author of Bad Men, Julie Mae Cohen introduced Kirsten.  She said, “I first met Kirsten when we met at Reading Writers, a local writing group and at the Reading Chapter of the Romanic Novelist Association and at that time she was unpublished.  People who aren’t writers often think there is only one thing needed to publish a book and that is talent.  People who are writers know that it is much more than that.  It does take talent but it also takes passion, dedication, a willingness to learn from mistakes and maybe more than anything it takes bloody mindedness. No matter how many books we have published, every single one of us authors fails a lot.  It is a process of failure.  We fail to get the right words in the right order on the page, we make mistakes, we get rejected, we get bad reviews (which we try not to read).  We do most of these things all by of ourselves in room with nothing but the stories and the characters we love to keep us going.  What you don’t see behind the cover of a book is the hard work and the blood, sweat and tears, to get a book published.  That’s why is so important to celebrate these successes.  The book is big-hearted, it is funny, it’s well researched, poignant and it’s evocative of its setting which is the East End of London during WW1.”

Kirsten said, “I’m so honoured to have Julie here today.  We did actually have another party for my first book, Another Us.  I think I dyed by hair red but it was on Zoom and we kind of had a party for Poppy Cooper but there could only be 30 of us socially distanced in our garden which was quite difficult.  It’s absolutely fabulous to get together in an outside venue and lovely so many of you have come.  I’m absolutely thrilled.  I think there is no more interesting period than WW1 because ordinary people are living through extraordinary times.  One of people who was in the back of mind when I was writing was my Grandpa George who signed up at 16 to go to the front.  At the end of his life in the 70s, my Dad was there at his death bed and he said he was right back there in 1916 at the front, hiding from the shells in the trenches.  That has always haunted me and made me think we can’t not forget what went on there.  It was an absolutely horrendous time.   Putting that aside it was an amazing time for women and the social, economic opportunities were unparalleled.  I was inspired my maternal grandmother, she was of German heritage and the family set up bakery on Brick Lane.  WW1 wasn’t a good time to have a German surname and she suffered indignities and violence and that’s one of the themes that I explore.  I’ve loved researching it and I’ve loved writing it.”

The Bell Bookshop have signed copies of the book, priced at £9.99.


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