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Maggie Corbett

Copyright Guy Richardson

In the summer of 1965, with ‘A’ levels looming the following year, I crossed the Channel for the first time in the hope of making much needed improvements to my spoken French.

Maggie Corbett

Work camp buildings in 1965

If my parents had had any idea of the dire conditions and bizarre experiences that awaited me at the youth work camp set deep in the forest, they would have been on the first plane over to take me home.

However, with the resilience of youth and because I had fallen for one of the local boys, I wrote nothing untoward on my postcards - no mobile phones or email in those days - and left them in blissful ignorance until my return

Maggie Corbett

Maggie and Jean-Claude outside the entrance to the underground dormitories

A fictionalised version of that same location serves as the setting for Shadows of the Past in which three English schoolgirls disappear without trace in the 1960s. Twenty years later, a tourist, already intrigued by the hostility of the nearby village towards strangers, discovers a human skeleton in the forest. At considerable risk to her own life, she begins to uncover secrets dating back to the sufferings of the little community during the German occupation of WW2.

 Maggie Corbett

The view from inside the tunnel

Maggie Corbett

The tunnel entrance blocked up and covered in graffiti

Writing the 1960s part of the story, based to some extent on my own experiences, was relatively easy. The flashback to WW2 took me a great deal longer and involved travelling back to the area a few years ago, re-establishing contact with my old flame Jean-Claude and mining the memories of his parents’ generation. I am also grateful to the Museum of Jewish Art and History in Paris for allowing me access to a collection of letters written to their parents by children in hiding. Although Shadows of the Past is a work of fiction, it is strongly grounded in the lives of real people.

Maggie Corbett

No trace left of the work camp

Having decided to ‘self publish’ which, in my case, meant handing over all the technical details to my obliging journalist son Richard, the next thing was to decide on a suitable cover. The finished product shows many items crucial to the story, including an old CND badge and Be-Ro recipe book I was lent following an appeal on Facebook. The framed photograph is of myself and Jean-Claude standing in front of the entrance to the work camp’s dormitories. Yes, we were all obliged to sleep underground like moles and emerge each morning half blinded by the daylight.

Maggie Corbett

Maggie and Jean-Claude reunited

 Maggie Corbett

Chatting to villagers

Shadows of the Past, which has attracted some excellent reviews on Amazon, is available for £7.99 as a paperback or £1.99 for a download. Signed copies are available from me on request through my website and I am always happy to discuss the story itself and the publishing process.

Editor: I am delighted to announce that a signed copy of Shadows of the Past will be donated by Maggie for a future raffle. Details will be announced shortly. Many thanks Maggie!

Meet The Author...
Maggie Cobbett
Who Am I?

Maggie grew up in Leeds, crossed the Pennines to study at the University of Manchester and then spent more years than she cares to remember teaching French, German and EFL in the UK and abroad. Now settled with her family and two old and very happy to be ex-feral cats on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, Maggie takes inspiration for her writing from her surroundings, travels, family history and her work as a television background artist. She is currently a ‘village regular’ on Emmerdale.

In 2006, Maggie won her way to the Writers’ Summer School in Swanwick, Derbyshire and has attended every year since, generally financing her place by the writing of ‘fillers’ for magazines and newspapers. Since letting this fact slip, she has been invited to run workshops on the subject. Her ‘how to’ handbook Easy Money For Writers & Wannabes came out in 2014 and was an Amazon best seller in its category.

Maggie enjoys writing features and reviews, but fiction is her first love. Until recently, this has mainly meant flash fiction and short stories for magazines. Some of these stories, together with competition winners, also appear in her three published collections, Anyone For Murder?, Had We But World Enough and Swings & Roundabouts. These are available separately or in an omnibus edition.

New for 2015, is Maggie’s first novel, Shadows of the Past, a mystery set over three time periods in a French village. Although inspired by an extraordinary summer she experienced as a teenager in the 1960s, the story has its roots in the darkest days of WW2 and the German occupation of France. All Maggie’s books are available from Amazon as paperbacks or downloads.

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