Real story of POW and RAF Bottesford inspire novelist

Author Estella McQueen.
Author Estella McQueen.
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A novelist has been inspired by the real life experiences of her father-in-law during his time in a POW camp in the Second World War.

Estella McQueen’s latest novel ‘The Man at the Back’ is something of a breakaway from her previous work, and the story came to her when she was going through old letters and postcards belonging to her late father-in-law Vincent McQueen.

World War II novel 'The Man at the Back'.

World War II novel 'The Man at the Back'.

Estella explained: “I’ve previously written what you might call ‘chic lit’, but this is the first time I’ve written about the war. I found it really interesting and I might do something similar for my next novel.”

What particularly struck Estella during her research was not just the hardships of the POW camps but also the range of activities the prisoners did in order to keep themselves entertained, including theatrical and musical performances.

She said: “Many people don’t realise all this really happened in the camps. Before the war my father-in-law was an amateur actor and his hero was Laurence Olivier, who appears in the book.”

The story follows protagonist Tom Waterhouse, also an actor, who joins Bomber Command, becomes a prisoner of war and puts on Henry V in the camp.

Not forgetting her romantic roots, the wartime tale also has an underlying love story, and has been described by The Romantic Novelists’ Association as ‘an exceptional piece of work’ and ‘thumping good read’.

Having grown up in Bottesford and Grantham, Estella was always aware of the area’s rich history in aviation, but the novel led her to delve deeper.

She spent two years researching into Bomber Command at RAF East Kirkby and RAF Bottesford, which became the fictionalised RAF Waddesford in the book.

Now living in Osterley, West London having moved there as a BBC Researcher, 45-year-old Estella has enjoyed going back to the places of her childhood and hopes those familiar with Bottesford will recognise other real locations within the fictional setting of Waddesford.

‘The Man at the Back’ is currently available in eBook form via Amazon.