Guest Blog Post: Leah Fleming, author of The Girl Under the Olive Tree

Dot Scribbles is hosting author Leah Fleming today, she is the author of The Girl Under the Olive Tree, it’s a gripping story of love, friendship and betrayal set in wartime Crete – based upon the true story of Johanna Stavridi, a British debutante-turned Red Cross Nurse who remained at her post after the fall of Crete in 1941.  It’s also an evocation of the spirit of the Cretan resistance, embodied in the lives of Patrick Leigh Fermor, John Pendlebury, and thousands of Cretans.  And like all Leah’s stories there are fantastic strong women characters, family secrets, and a page-turner of a story.

Leah’s writing has been praised by Rachel Hore and Kate Atkinson and she won the Premio Roma prize for Foreign Fiction in 2012.

Leah has written a really interesting post about heroes, who has inspired her and the type of fictional heroes she likes to write about: 


I thought you’d  like to know my kind of hero. Every author needs them. especially ones like me who set their stories around World Wars so I make no apologies for the fact that the ones in The Girl Under The Olive Tree, both men and women are inspired from real life soldiers and nurses whose exploits would seem fanciful in books today.
 Take one of my all time favourites: Paddy Leigh Fermor who died only recently was handsome, suave, self educated,  a ladies’ man and how…but whose superb prose captured my writing heart many years ago with the wonderful account of his walk to Constantinople from the Hook of Holland in the 1930s as a young student. ;Time of Gifts, Between and Woods and Water and the final volume coming soon.
 His exploits on Crete as a Special Operations Officer are legend. His group galvanized the Cretan resistance, kidnapping General Kreipe in in 1944 ( fictionalized in the film: Ill Met By Moonlight.) This was a man who sat under the stars quoting Ovid to his hostage, a dare-devil who disguised himself as a Cretan shepherd and roamed the streets of Chania, writing slogans on walls even with a price on his head, He lived a full and varied life, a great raconteur,  beloved of correspondent to the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire.(Yours In Tearing Haste) He worshipped women but I suspect was a devil to live with. Do they make them like him anymore?
  There’s also the legendary New Zealand Officer, Jock Lewes, whose secret service exploits in the Egyptian desert commanded such respect. Letters to his fiancée, Mirren Barford  published by her family as : Joy Street are some of the most understated yet romantic love letters I have ever read. He too didn’t survive the war.
 No wonder the lost hero is a theme to which I return time and time again in my novels. I’m sure we must have similar men in this generation, volunteers willing to give their lives to the cause, to sacrifice their own well being and happiness for the greater good. My heroes, Bruce Jardine and Rainer Brecht although enemies would be  educated in the Classics, speak many languages,  natural leaders of men, often driven, sensual beings, who could express their feelings in prose and verse, dare devils in courage, taking risks, playing hard, loving both life and danger.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man, they say. Yes, my heroes were of their time, old school, reticent, chauvinistic perhaps but I find them fascinating if not a little daunting, the yard stick to which all my fictional heroes must be measured against. To be a hero in a Leah Fleming novel, no wimps need apply.

The Girl Under the Olive Tree is available now from Simon & Schuster, Leah is is currently on a blog tour so check out the rest of her itinerary! 

Leah Fleming
The Girl Under the Olive Tree Blog Tour schedule
9-16 August 2013
Check out Leah’s blog summer tour – and hear about her new book, The Girl Under the Olive Tree, a gripping tale of love, friendship and betrayal in wartime Crete… 
Visit these wonderful book blogs for interviews, guest posts and surprises galore!
9 August  Dot Scribbles
10 August I hearts books 
11 August Mamajhearts 
12 August Reading In the Sunshine 
13 August Fabulous Book Fiend
14 August Tales From the Reading Room
15 August  dizzycslittlebookblog – back by special demand!
16 August Laura’s book reviews
Lap of honour
20 September Jera’s Jamboree
find more about Leah at www.leahfleming.co.uk  @Leahlefleming @simonschusterpr


Anonymous said...

Thank you for asking to pop in here. It was fun writing this post especially for you. Leah

Nikki-ann said...

Hmmm... I think my previous comment got lost in cyberspace as all I got was an error message when I tried to submit it. Anywho... here goes again!

An interesting post!

I think the best fictional heroes are the ones based on real-life heroes :)

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