18 July 2017

Guest Post by David Ebsworth, author of Until the Curtain Falls, a new thriller set during the Spanish Civil War.


Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

October 1938, and foreign correspondent Jack Telford is on the run in northern Spain, territory now controlled by Franco’s fascists. And he’s killed somebody close to the Generalísimo’s heart. Telford’s a hunted man, and hunted by three different and deadly enemies. In a climactic chase from Madrid to the Republic’s last outpost, in Alicante, during the closing days of the Spanish Civil War, Jack will learn hard lessons about the conflict between morality and survival.

“The image of the woman Telford had just killed would not leave him. He was almost sure she deserved to die. And, if he hadn’t drowned her first, he was fairly certain that he himself would now be dead.”  

I suppose that Spain and its civil wars are in my blood. An ancestor, Francis Crook Ebsworth, died there in 1837, fighting for the liberal Isabelino faction against the more reactionary Carlists. And then, as a trade union activist from the early 1970s onwards,

I worked closely with men who had volunteered to fight as part of the International Brigades – Merseysiders, like Jack Jones and Frank Deagan – on behalf of the Spanish Republic in the terrible conflict from 1936 until 1939, which was, itself, the opening chapter of the Second World War. That struggle began when, in July 1936, four insurgent generals, including Francisco Franco, launched a military coup to overthrow the elected Popular Front Government.

Three brutally cruel years followed, and sadly ended with Franco’s eventual victory and the establishment of yet another dictatorship for Spain, one that would last until 1975.

Meanwhile, I’d grown close to our ‘extended Spanish family’, many of whom had themselves supported the Republican cause. And so, when I was thinking about writing my second novel, during 2012, it seemed natural to think about the Spanish Civil War as the background – though I was obviously keen to find a “new angle” for the tale.

I began researching different aspects and, through sheer serendipity, came across a paper by American Professor Sandie Holguin, in which she’d uncovered the bizarre story of Franco’s Battlefield Tours, organised from mid-1938 onwards, while the outcome of the war was still in the balance – tours which attracted thousands of international tourists between 1938 and 1945. That’s right, all the way through the Second World War.

The result of all this was the publication of The Assassin’s Mark in 2013 and, this year, its sequel, Until the Curtain Falls – although, to be honest, Until the Curtain Falls can just as easily be read as a stand-alone story.

Between the two novels, I’ve been able to tell some generally untold and “stranger than fiction” stories of the Spanish Civil War: about the way that Franco used Battlefield Tourism and the Camino de Santiago as international propaganda tools; about Franco’s lair in Burgos and the barbarity of the neighbouring prisoner-of-war concentration camp at San Pedro de Cardeña; about the final months of the two-and-a-half year Siege of Madrid; about the secret story of Britain’s dirty involvement in the war’s politics; and about the tragedy of the closing chapter, in Alicante Province.

Then I needed some major characters through whom these stories could be told: left-wing correspondent for the weekly Reynolds News, Jack Telford; Franco’s Irish tour guide, Brendan Murphy; Jack’s mysterious travelling companion and fellow-journalist, Valerie Carter-Holt; Republican army Captain Fidel Constantino; and, in Madrid, the British consulate’s staff member, Ruby Waters.

I like to know my protagonists very well before I start writing and then, with only the most flexible of plot outlines, let them loose on the historical timeline – the “stranger than fiction” incidents I mentioned earlier – to see where their characters take the yarn.

In this case they rewarded me with enough material to fill the pages of these two thrillers: a suspicious accident in San Sebastián; a hostage siege in Spain’s most holy sanctuary; assassination attempts; an unexpected murder; mayhem in Burgos; enough guerrilla activity to rival For Whom The Bell Tolls; espionage and skulduggery in Madrid; a life-and-death chase to Spain’s Mediterranean coast; and twists galore during the finale in Alicante and beyond. Hopefully, Until the Curtain Falls will live up to its reputation as “a roller-coaster” ride, as a simple thriller, but might also serve – as historical fiction should always do – to bring this important period of history to a wider audience.

David Ebsworth
# # #

About the Author

David Ebsworth is the pen name of writer Dave McCall, a former negotiator for Britain’s Transport & General Workers’ Union. He was born in Liverpool but has lived in Wrexham, North Wales, with his wife Ann since 1981 – though they now spend a significant part of each year in Alicante, Spain. Each of Dave’s six novels has been critically acclaimed by the Historical Novel Society and been awarded the coveted BRAG Medallion for independent authors. His work in progress is a series of nine novellas, covering the years from 1911 until 1919 and the lives of a Liverpudlian-Welsh family embroiled in the suffragette movement. Until the Curtain Falls is also the first of Dave’s books to be translated into another language, with the Spanish edition due for publication in November this year. For more information on the author and his work, visit his website at www.davidebsworth.com. and find him on Twitter @EbsworthDavid.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting, Tony, and happy to pick up any questions or comments.

    ReplyDelete

AddToAny