Harry Fletcher is an energetic young man with many plans for the future. In this exclusive post on the eve of Anzac Day, I’m asking him about his upcoming tour of Egypt, Gallipoli and the Western Front.
First, though, we have to take ourselves back to January 1915 and behind the pages of The Stars in the Night.
Clare: Hi, Harry, pleased to meet you. I’ve been hearing so much about you over the past few years that I feel like I already know you.
Harry: Never met you before, Miss, but how do you do all the same.
I hear you’re leaving the bakery to become a soldier.
That’s right. Me and my brother Eddie. Off to save the Empire, we are. Unless the war finishes before we get there.
I don’t think that will happen.
Really, Miss? They said it would be over by Christmas. Maybe next Christmas then.
Perhaps. Now, I have a couple of notes here that I’d like to check with you if that’s all right.
You and Eddie have the same birthday. How did that happen? I thought he was your foster brother. Your enlistment papers make you look like twins.
Nah, we’re not twins. Have you met him, our Eddie? High as a house and twice as broad. Anyway, we have different surnames, so we can’t be twins.
And both your birthdays fall on the same day as mine, June 28th.
True, Miss? That’s strange. Eddie shares mine because we never found out when his real birthday is.
Indeed. Now, what about that Nora girl?
Miss MacTierney, you should say. What about her?
Nothing to be concerned about, Harry. I just wondered whether the two of you…
None of your business, I’m pretty sure, Miss. Where did you say you were from, anyway?
Ah, I’m from The Future. It’s a, um, a new paper. Interviews, life stories, history, travel, that sort of thing. Fiction and poetry.
Never heard of it. I like reading, though. History and geography. Not poetry so much. Mind you, I won’t get much time for reading from now on.
You’re heading off to training camp this month, I know. Tell me this, Harry: why did you enlist? The war is half a world away.
It’s the right thing to do, isn’t it? Everyone knows that. I couldn’t stay home when other blokes are fighting for what’s right. Britain is at war and they need us. Australia has to do the decent thing.
You really believe that war is a decent thing?
Well, it’s the only thing, isn’t it? The only way to beat a bully is to fight him. Besides, it pays well. Six shillings a day, imagine that, and a free trip to Europe. Not bad. And when we get there, we’ll show the English army that we’re just as good as they are.
I believe you will. I hope you stay safe, I really do. You and Eddie.
That’s kind, Miss ah, sorry, didn’t catch your name. Miss Future, let’s say. Maybe we can talk more when I get back.
I hope that too. Promise to look me up when you get home.
*laughs* You’ll have to wait in line, Miss. There’s somebody I’ll be looking up first.
Oh, of course, Nora! I’m sure she’ll be waiting for you.
I’m depending on it, Miss. Thanks for dropping by.
Thanks for talking to me, Harry. Good luck!
You’ve probably guessed that this is one of many entirely impossible conversations that I regularly hold with my character Harry Fletcher, picking his brains about why he’s doing what he’s doing, and what life is like for him. He can be a prickly chap but he always tells me the truth.
For the latest review of The Stars in the Night, see Baffled Bear Books.
Where to find Stars in the Night: You can buy Stars from my publisher Odyssey Books, from BookDepository (with free shipping worldwide) and from Amazon in Kindle and paperback, and as an ebook for KOBO.
You can also ask your friendly local bookstore to order it in for you. During the pandemic shutdown, many bookstores are delivering for free. Bonus!
If you are in Australia, you can buy a signed copy from my website, with free postage included.