About the Author
Kate Furnivall is the author of eight novels, including the international bestseller The Russian Concubine. She lives in Devon. You can read more about Kate and her books on her website.
Your latest book, The Guardian of Lies, is described as a story of love, danger, courage and betrayal, set in the South of France in 1953. Can you tell us a bit more about the book?
It is the story of a young French woman, Eloïse Caussade, who tries to track down the Soviet agent who attempted to murder her brother in a car crash in Paris. But nothing is as it seems, so she leaves Paris to return to her father’s bull farm where her brother is recuperating from his injuries.
There she finds herself trapped between two worlds that are on a collision course. One is the quiet rural life that is the world she believes she has outgrown and to which her childhood friend Léon still belongs. The other is the tense and dangerous existence of those caught up in the Cold War between America and Soviet Russia, a world in which lies, spies and murder entwine to drag Eloïse into their dark web. She cannot ignore the blood in the barn or the fire in her father’s stables. Her family is being targeted and she has to find the killer. But how do you catch hold of a shadow that has no name?
What inspired the idea behind this novel?
There were a number of triggers for the ideas that drive this book, but at its heart lies the bond between a brother and sister. My own older brother passed away several years ago but I still think of him daily, and it is this brother-sister relationship that kept intruding into my mind each time I picked up my pen to write. Sadly my relationship with him became somewhat fraught towards the end and I could feel the pain of that emotional wound bleed into my words on the page as I was writing this novel. The apparent withdrawal of affection by André caused his sister Eloïse’s intense distress, though in my story their sibling love for each other was ultimately too bone-deep to deny.
But the other major inspiration for The Guardian of Lies was my terror at what I see happening in the world today. We are in the grip of another Cold War between world powers. The fingers of seeming psychopaths hover dangerously close to nuclear buttons. The threat is ever present. Right in front of us. So I wanted to take a look back to a time in 1953 when the world was on the brink of a nuclear war between Soviet Russia and America, when both countries were frantically trying to amass information on each other’s military secrets and nuclear developments. Spies and counter-spies lurked in every walk of life, in government, industry, laboratories and education. They were everywhere.
This atmosphere of suspicion, lies and fear only intensified when the USA decided to construct a series of nuclear air bases in France to create a formidable line of defence/attack. This decision divided the people of France. Some were in support of it while others condemned it as a suicidal move. This struck me as a fascinating and revealing moment of brinkmanship that we should be looking back at and learning from today. It is into this tense situation that André and Eloïse Caussade step in The Guardian of Lies. Watch out for explosions in every sense.
What do you hope the reader will take away from this book?
I always hope my readers will take away a sense of having lived another life. One that has captivated both their minds and their emotions, and that during their time there they learned something new that has made them think differently about certain subjects. One that makes them feel it was time well spent. At the end of reading The Guardian of Lies I hope readers will sit back, ponder on what they’ve read and recognise that it is time to look closer at those into whose hands we place immense power. To think again. And to demand a safer world for us all to live in.
What’s your daily writing routine like and what are you working on at the moment?
I am an early bird. My mind pays no heed to my desire to sleep late and kick-starts into action between 5am and 6am. I do some of my most prolific work in those first few hours of the day while my brain is sharp. It grows blunter as each hour passes until by lunch time I abandon all hope and take to tramping the beach which is a few minutes walk away.
In the afternoons I’m not good. My mind is a blank sheet. So I edit what I’ve written in the morning, scurry around doing chores and dip in and out of various research books, preparing for the next day’s scenes. At about 5pm I get in another intense burst of writing – I write by hand with a pen – before collapsing with a glass of wine in hand. It is then that I discover I have a husband in the house and a box-set to watch or music to relax to. Overnight all kinds of magic goes on inside my head and the ideas and words return at 5am the next morning. But the fear is always there – what if the words don’t turn up? It is a writer’s eternal nightmare.
What next? I am very excited about the new book that is still in the process of taking shape in my mind. But I’ll whisper that it is set in Berlin in 1948-9 and I see it as a powerful love story set against the heroic background of the Berlin Airlift. A story about making a life and death choice. About its consequences. About the devastation and the hope burning like a flame in a darkened city. I can’t wait to pick up my pen.