Sunday, August 07, 2016

Fiction, fact and His Little Girl

Way back in1997 I wrote a book called His Little Girl. It didn't get a US retail release and it's still only available as a digital download in the UK. This is the original UK cover; it's not exactly inspiring but I can't bear to use the hideous cover they've put on the Kindle edition.

Why am I talking about this book now?

I recently attempted to regain the rights to the book so that I could give it a new lease of life. Unfortunately I did not succeed but my publisher is keen to push it a little and so, to help editorial find the right words to promote it, I wrote a brief outline of the story.

My hero is John Gannon (a war correspondent) who risks everything, including prison, to rescue a child he'd fathered when hiding out with her mother, grabbing comfort in what might be their last moments on earth while under bombardment in Sarajevo.

They are strangers and when the danger passes they go their separate ways - she to find her family, him to file his report, although he gives her his card in case she needs help.. Three years later he discovers that she has died and the child fathered in that moment of terror is in a refugee camp. Any doubts about her parentage are blown away the minute he sees her. She is the image of his grandmother at the same age. Aware how long it would take to go through the formalities - and all the terrible things that could happen to her in the meantime -  he grabs her and runs.

The extraordinary thing about His Little Girl is that just as it was published a real life story, very similar, was revealed in the British press.

While reporting from Sarajevo in the early nineties, legendary British war correspondent, Michael Nicholson found 200 orphans living in a mortared and shelled building - four had already been killed and he smuggled Natasha, a nine-year-old who had been abandoned by her mother, out of the country, claiming that she was his daughter, owning up when she was safely in Britain. Despite protests from the Bosnian authorities Nicholson succeeded in adopting her and later published his experiences in his book, "Natasha's Story" which inspired  the film Welcome to Sarajevo.

Michael Nicholson's story was a true story of compassion and courage, mine was a romance (because of course there was a brave, strong woman who helped them both), but I love the fact that a story I spun out of my head could and did happen in real life. And had an equally happy ending.


dstoutholcomb said...

my brother was stationed there at that time with IFOR.


Liz Fielding said...

Terrifying, Denise. I can't imagine the constant worry of having someone deployed in such a dangerous situation.