Behind the Book

The initiative for writing “An Unplanned Encounter: Two Lives Forever Changed” originated out of a discussion I had with my mother in December 2007. At that time she was aged 84. It was the last time I saw my mother alive. After many years of persistent questions that were never answered my mother decided to tell me how I had been conceived in 1943 and why the events of my childhood were as I could remember them. My mother was raped, or so she said during this conversation. Her words were “Today it would be called rape. I never dated him. I never paid him any attention. But one night he grabbed me by the wrist and …..” My father was the lodger living with my mother’s parents in a small village in east Yorkshire. Locally he was considered a man of importance. As a civil engineer he was responsible for the construction and timely opening of a new bomber airfield needed to increase the intensity of bombing over Nazi occupied Europe. This was the last bomber airfield to open in Yorkshire during World War 11. After the war my father, who never provided my mother and I with any financial or other child support, returned to live with his wife and two children in the west Midlands, and my mother had no further direct contact with him beyond late 1943.

I have combined the content of this conversation with an account prepared by mother of her first fifty five years. For much of her adolescence and early adulthood she kept a diary. However her written account somehow seems to skip over the circumstances of my arrival which became much clearer after the December 2007 conversation. For a year after this conversation there was little I could do to validate her facts and expand the story. She continued until her death in December 2008 to be embarrassed and ashamed of what she had allowed happen to her body at the end of July 1943. She was age 20 at that time.

Following her death I had the opportunity to conduct research to try and discover the whereabouts and status of my father and his family. It was not easy. Thanks to Ancestry.com I was able to engage assistance from a professional researcher and soon the missing pieces of the jigsaw started to appear. Details of this process, including the results, are described in the Epilogue in the book. Sufficient to say I finally tracked down my half sister who lives in Shropshire, and met her for the first time in May 2010. We were both aged 66 at that meeting. It was the first time we had ever seen each other. Since that first meeting my sister has shared as much information as she can recall regarding my father. He died about 40 years ago in the early 1970’s. From my sister’s stories it seems that my father’s life as well as that of my mother’s was significantly affected by my arrival, and in ways that no one could have foreseen at the time. It is these many stories that I have combined along with the historic realities of their time, to develop a novel that while fiction, is very much based on a true story. Many of the issues faced back in those times still face us today; only social advancement, improved legal procedures, advances in medicine, and paternity testing might make today’s answers different and easier to reach than occurred back then.

I hope you will read what I have written. I continue to come to terms with the nature of my conception and the disruption my early life caused among other people. I hope that there are only a few people like me. At the same time I find each day of my life to be a special bonus and am thankful for the kindness that seems to have cloaked me for much of my life. It is a fitting tribute as I reach the age of 70 to publish this novel in honor of my mother and all that she went through to give me a life.