Born in Belfast, Norther Ireland, I have lived most of my adult live in Dublin, near the bay. Writing fiction came an interest after a long career in the technology industry. My fascination in the subject of my novels developed out of my long-standing interests in military and political history. When not researching my books or visiting the sites for inspiration, I like to spend my time sailing in Dublin Bay with family and friends.
Ameican Athenaeum article
Was it my father who first stirred the interest in military history in me as a young boy? Walking the lanes and byways of the little country town in Northern Ireland where we lived, years after the war ended, he could still point out the tank traps and pillboxes still skulking there, festooned in weeds, waiting for the invader that never came. Even in a rural corner of Ireland, hundreds of miles from the likely invasion beaches in England, they had prepared.
He had been a reserve officer in the British Army; one of the many thousands of Irishmen who put aside their personal political views to be ready to fight Hitler. As a schoolteacher, he was not called to the frontline. His role, instead, was to train young cadets and to help man the local defences if the Nazis came. They never did, but perhaps the kernel of my novel was planted there, during those long country walks, and in those abandoned, puny, incongruous defence works in the heart of County Down.
A long career in the technology industry left me little time to indulge my interests in the political and military history of the period, other than casual reading. But with retirement came the opportunity to do more; to visit many of the sites, sail the waters, even fly an old biplane over one of the main airbases. And somewhere along the way, as I pieced together my own view of the feared invasion, a crazy idea told hold. As I continued my research, using cabinet papers and biographies from the period, I became more and more intrigued. Finally, tucked away, and unremarked, in Churchill’s History of the Second World War, I discovered the sentence that showed that the idea was perhaps not so crazy after all.
The leap from the Received History of the war in 1940 to an Alternative History was far smaller than I had imagined. That one sentence from the pen of Winston Churchill took the story from the purely speculative to the “maybe, just maybe” category.
As a genre, Alternative History can run the gamut from wild fantasy about goblins or death-ray machines to tight stories based on small quantum shifts in timing or facts or outcomes; the assassin’s bullet that missed; the flap of the butterfly’s wings. This story belongs firmly in the latter category; it revolves around a decision that might easily have been taken by a man well-capable of such decisions. With that small quantum step made, many of the historical loose ends of the period suddenly begin to look very different.
Why did Hitler stop his armies at the coast of France when Britain lay naked?
How close did the British government come to seeking a deal with him?
What was the relationship between the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and the Nazis?
Why did Hitler’s deputy fly to Scotland to meet the Duke of Hamilton a few months after the Battle of Britain ended?
Why did Churchill’s confidante, Brendan Bracken, have all his papers burnt after his death?
How much did Churchill know about Hitler’s strategic plans from Ultra decrypts?
How much information was supplied to the British by the head of German Military Intelligence?
Exactly when did Churchill find out about Hitler’s plan to invade Russia?
Did he warn Stalin, or choose not to?
Most intriguing of all, what dark secrets exist about Britain in World War 2, that they remain embargoed by the British government?
At the end of all this speculation and analysis, 'An Invitation to Hitler' is a novel, no more, no less. My intention is to entertain, to appeal to those who derive enjoyment from being intrigued, not just by my words as writer, but by the story’s interaction with their own personal understanding of the period.
There is more to be told.