Edina Paxton is kissed at twelve, seduced at fourteen and married with child at fifteen. She immediately regrets her marriage to Charles Vernon and is relieved when he leaves to fight in the trenches during WW1. She soon finds love, comfort and sexual satisfaction with Bill, another soldier and the boy who first kissed her.
Charles is invalided out of the army and is sent to India on a hospital ship. There, he becomes a manager of a coalmine in Britain’s Indian Empire, with all the privileges that his position rewards, including sexual favours from female employees. At the end of his army service in 1920 he returns to England to collect his family and return to India, only to be greeted with the news that while he was away Edina was at play. She is pregnant.
Reluctantly, Edina and her three children sail for India with Charles and Edina gives birth to her fourth child while sailing south on the Red Sea. On reaching India Charles finds his Indian mistress is pregnant and Edina finds Charles’s Indian boss to be very attractive. It’s a mutual attraction. Neither Edina nor Charles is a saint.
Piecing together fragments of her grandmother’s remarkable and tragic story, Everlasting Lies is Barbara’s loving tale of the early life of Edina, her grandmother, and Charles, Edina’s husband. They both experience the horrors of WW1 and, in hopes of renewing their marriage, start new lives as members of the upper class in Imperial India.
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Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself.
I live with my very long-term, first husband in Alberta, Canada in the summertime and in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in the winter. We grew up in England, married and emigrated to Canada. We have three daughters and some grandchildren and great grandchildren.
I went to university for the first time as a mature student at age of 36 and, four years later, was a qualified teacher, teaching grade six students. Later I moved to a Junior High School where I taught drama and language arts.
After retirement, I have painted in watercolours, pastels and acrylics, built a house and travelled to India, China, Cambodia, Vietnam and many other countries. I have written memoirs for my family and have taught that topic to seniors.
Everlasting Lies is my first novel
How do you create your characters?
When I was researching my family’s history in London, England, in 2003 I discovered from the records of soldiers in the British army that my maternal grandfather came home from a four-year spell in India in March 1920. My mother was born in May of the same year. The family skeleton was on full display and I decided to write about it. I knew my grandmother and my “grandfather”, so those characters were easy to visualise. My aunts are part of the story in Everlasting Lies and also part of my childhood memories. Bill Charlton is the “prince charming” character in the book and I created him from researching the English census of 1901. In it I found the boys living near to my grandmother and close to her in age.
Where do you write?
During the winter my husband and I have a place overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where I have a small office that is open to the flowers and the hummingbirds that surround us. In the summer I write wherever I happen to be. That might be in my office in our condo, in coffee shops or, if we are travelling, in a bed and breakfast or a cabin in the mountains.
Editing is an important part of producing a book. How did you do this?
I was very lucky! I started the book with no idea about editing or what it meant but after I had finished about 20,000 words I knew I needed help to keep the story on track and making sense, so I Googled “content editors” and picked one at random.
Tanis Nessler was the name I picked and, serendipitously, she lives in Calgary, Alberta. She asked me to send what I had written, gave me her comments and told me to keep writing and we would work together as I wrote. Eventually Tanis completed three full content edits before the draft was ready for a full technical edit and, because Tanis had been so easy to work with and thoroughly professional, I asked her to do that too.
Who are your favourite writers?
I love Janet Macleod Trotter and the way that she writes the Scottish and Geordie dialects. The Jarrow Trilogy and the Tyneside Sagas are wonderful. At age 18 she climbed on a bus, went to Kathmandu and wrote about the trip in “The Vanishing of Ruth.” My kind of girl!
Kate Morton and I have a childhood connection through reading books by Enid Blyton. Kate has a writing style that I’d like to emulate and her success as a writer would be good too. She has sold over ten million copies! My favourite book of hers is “The Forgotten Garden.”
John Grisham was a favourite of mine when he first started writing but I find his stories now to be a bit repetitive.
The last part of your book is set in India. Have you ever been there?
Yes, my husband and I went there as part of a group of nine photographers in 1998. We visited many of the cultural sites and national parks in northeast India and Nepal. While other friends who have been there couldn’t wait to get home, we loved it.
The teeming crowds of people, the heat, the smells, the opulent palaces, the poorest of women braking stones with heavy hammers on the side of the road, the sacred cows, the working camels and beautiful elephants were all unforgettable sights and experiences. I recommend that anyone who has an open mind should visit India.
Barbara Warren always has the pedal to the metal. Born in England and educated at a convent, she left school at sixteen and was selling encyclopedias in the roughest part of London at eighteen. She married and emigrated to Canada when she was twenty-three, had three charming daughters, went to university when she was thirty-six and retired from teaching in her mid fifties.
Then she pursued her passion for the arts and for travel. She and her husband rode camels in India, elephants in Nepal and horses in Montana. They hitchhiked in Norway, cycled across Denmark and snorkeled on the Great Barrier Reef. Barbara’s paintings grace homes in Canada, USA and Mexico and she designs her own clothes. She spends the winters in Mexico and the summers in the bible belt of southern Alberta.
Her first novel, Everlasting Lies, tells the story of her grandparents’ love affairs with each other and with others. They struggle to survive in the last years of Victorian England and the horrors of WW1 and then start a new life with four children in Imperial India.