Francesca and Elaine are chatting to the lovely Jean Fullerton about her new novel A Ration Book Wedding.
Hello Jean, thank you for joining us today. Can you give us an insight into your main character?
My main character at the moment is Cathy Brogan who is the middle sister of the three Brogan girls. Like the rest of her family she lives in Wapping East London, a few streets back from the London Docks. Like a great many in the area they are a second-generation Irish family. We first met her in A Ration Book Dream, which started the morning of her wedding on Saturday 2nd September the day before Great Britain declared war on German. She married Stanley Wheeler. He had his own van and worked at Spitalfields fruit market as a delivery driver. He also rented a more spacious semi-detached house with a garden, a step up from her parent’s three-up three-down tenement house with just a backyard.
When war started her father, Jeremiah, was the local rag and bone man but because the price of scrap metal was being strictly controlled by the Government, he has now built a successful delivery and removal business. Her mother, Ida, who used to scrub other people’s floors, now looks after the office side of the business. Unperturbed by the turmoil of war, Cathy’s feisty gran Queenie Brogan, tealeaf reader and one-time bookies runner, keeps a close and affectionate eye on the family.
However, since then life hasn’t been easy for Cathy as her husband has turned out to be a brute with dangerous friends. Mercifully, now he, like most men of fighting age, is in the army, leaving Cathy at the mercy of his equally vicious mother. She is now reconciled to her sister Mattie after a rift caused by her husband Stanley’s actions. She’s also seen her two sisters, Mattie and Jo, marry the love of their lives, but for Cathy after three years of marriage, love and happiness are just a crushed dream.
Her only joy is her two-and-half-year-old son Peter. That is until a chance meeting with Sergeant Archie McIntosh, a member of East London’s Bomb disposal team, while the bells are ringing after the victory at El Alemain, is set to change all that.
Do you see yourself in any of your characters?
I am all my heroines and fall in love with all of my heroes.
If you could tell your younger self anything what would it be?
To start writing sooner. I only began writing twenty years ago and I really wish I’d started a decade earlier.
Where do your ideas come from?
That’s an easy one to answer. I have absolutely no idea. I write to contract so I can’t just write the first thing that pops into my head so I start by thinking of a period or scenario that might suit the story then mull it over both consciously and subconsciously for about a week, making notes and sketching out possible scenes, after which I put a very loose plan together. I then start and as I get further into my characters and story the initial ideas just seem to build and develop.
What does success look like to you?
Although the money’s nice, success for me is having a reader contact me and tell me how much they enjoy my books. That is how I measure my success.
A Ration Book Wedding.
In the darkest days of the Blitz, love is more important than ever.
It’s February 1942, and as the Americans finally join Britain and her allies, twenty-three-year-old Francesca Fabrino is doing her bit for the war effort in a factory in East London. But her thoughts are constantly occupied by recently married Charlie Brogan, who is fighting in North Africa with the Eighth Army.
When Francesca starts a new job for the BBC Overseas department, she meets handsome Count Leo D’Angelo and begins to put her hopeless love for Charlie aside. But then Charlie returns from the front, his marriage in ruins and his heart burning for Francesca at last. Could she, a good Catholic girl, countenance an affair with the man she has always longed for? Or should she choose Leo and a different, less dangerous path?
Amazon: A Ration Book Wedding
Jean Fullerton is the author of twelve novels all set in East London where she was born. She worked as a district nurse in East London for over twenty-five years and is now a full-time author.
She is a qualified District and Queen’s nurse who has spent most of her working life in the East End of London, first as a Sister in charge of a team, and then as a District Nurse tutor.
She has won multiple awards and all her books are set in her native East London. Her latest book, A RATION BOOK WEDDING, is the fourth in her East London WW2 Ration Book series featuring sisters Mattie, Jo and Cathy Brogan and their family.
Thank you for talking to us today and we look forward to catching up again in the near future.