David Laws

Inspiration: My favourite historical period

I’ve been a national newspaper journalist for many years but have always nursed an ambition to write novels about my favourite historical period - before, during and after the two world wars. I hope my present effort is the first of many.

Henry Porter, Robert Harris, Robert Goddard, Philip Kerr, Ken Follett and Jack Higgins are some of the authors I’ve been inspired by. The novel itself arose out of my life-long sense of amazement that Neville Chamberlain and the British appeasers couldn’t see how they were being fooled by Hitler and that their actions were making war more likely - not less.

Everyone has to start somewhere - and my first “journalistic” job was operating an old-fashioned plug-in telephone switchboard for a City of London financial weekly newspaper.

When I’d cut off one too many calls and they’d sent me on my way, I managed to find reporting jobs around the London suburbs for weekly papers at Hayes, Southall, Harrow and Wembley. This was followed by sub-editing at an evening paper in Shropshire. Next step, the Daily Express in Manchester, and finally London.

I also managed to fit in writing and producing magazines on film, medicine, travel and finance. Some of the highlights were interviews with Jack Higgins, Marti Caine and Robert Ludlum. Other obsessions: rambling, gliding, flying, railways, locomotives.

Inside the Fuhrer-bau where the Munich Agreement was signed