I Heard My Country Calling
by Sue Elliott
Published by The History Press
Published in October 2015 (and in the US and Canada in January 2016), this is the biography of a little-known wartime special agent whose exceptional story Steve and I first uncovered in The Children Who Fought Hitler.
With this book, I decided to risk something different. Though every substantial character, event and conversation is based on interviews with Elaine herself and on research and documentary evidence, I wanted it to read like an engrossing novel. This was difficult to achieve and I had problems finding the right voice, but I think it works. I hope readers will think so too…
I was just pleased to be able to tell her story in full for the first time. Though no longer with us, she deserves recognition for the part she played.
This is how I pitched it to publishers, and pretty much how it turned out:
“This is the true story of a woman whose life was marked, almost from the beginning, by a series of life-changing challenges and adventures. How she coped with them, and at what personal cost, forms the basis for this book. The narrative begins, before her birth, with the horrors of the Great War and traces the influence of a highly unusual childhood among the war cemeteries of Flanders. Still in her teens, she is plunged into the chaos of the 1940 Dunkirk evacuation and emerges into a life of heightened intensity and danger during the London Blitz.
Then the excitement really begins…
Elaine Madden never claimed to be a heroine but her story proves otherwise. Its centrepiece – war service as one of only two women Special Operations Executive agents parachuted into enemy-occupied Belgium – is just one episode in an extraordinary real-life drama of highs and lows, love, loss and betrayal.
Based on documentary evidence and personal testimony, this account of the life of a complex woman lived through troubled and changing times, is stranger, more disturbing and ultimately more affecting than fiction.”
Read more about Elaine here on The History Press website.
Buy I Heard My Country Calling on Amazon here.