Interview with Sue Firth, Kingsman

KINGSMAN, a novel written by the late Eric Firth, was published last month due to the hard work of his daughter, Sue. I recently had the opportunity to ask her a few questions about her father, the book and the process of getting it published.

Please tell us briefly about yourself

I am retired, having enjoyed a very successful and exciting career which involved much international travel.

Can you tell us a little about your father?

My father, a Yorkshireman, joined the Royal Corps of Signals in 1944 and retired as a captain in 1969. He settled in Harrogate where he established a second career in communications electronics. He was a town councillor from 1974 to 1984. After retirement, he undertook an Open University degree, achieving an Honours in modern history. His interest in writing resulted in his joining a creative writing group in Harrogate. He wrote some short pieces and then undertook the writing of a novel, KINGSMAN which was completed in 2001.

Did he always want to write or was that something he came to later in life?

I don’t know the answer to this, but, as with most of his generation, he left school at age 14 without the opportunity to study further. Subsequent marriage and children, together with his army career, demanded all his time and effort and his retirement finally gave him that opportunity.

How did you decide to get the book published?

I simply continued the work my father had initiated prior to his being overtaken by ill-health, and then death, by targeting likely agents in the Writers and Artists Yearbook. I had it in mind to try for self-publish in the event I was unsuccessful after trying for two years. This I did.

Was it something you had discussed with your father or did you decide on your own?

I promised my father I would get the book published.

What was the most difficult part of getting the book published?

The long process of submission to agents and their rejection notes could have been disheartening, but I knew the book had merit, so embarked on the self-publish route. This has its own trials and should be undertaken only if you commit to total responsibility for how your book will look as a finished product. There is a very steep learning curve and a whole new set of jargon to learn.

In a few sentences, what is KINGSMAN about?

July, 1946. Sergeant Harding of the Royal Signals returns from an undercover mission on the Assam/Burma border. His assignment: to gain co-operation from tribal headmen in reporting sight of Indian National Army stragglers. He has been advised of unidentified aircraft using an abandoned airfield at Tamu.

A chance encounter with the young wife of a missing tea planter, Mark Erskine, results in his being invited to the tea estate, where his suspicions are aroused by the behaviour of the manager and the apparently strange circumstances surrounding Mark’s disappearance.

A detailed recce of Tamu airfield reveals a Junkers 52, a Dakota DC3 and a conclave of unknown men. Harding must return to the chilling austerity of post-WW2 Britain and work with Army Intelligence to identify the men and uncover all the secrets Tamu has to hide.

Kingsman is available from Troubador Publishing

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