Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the seventieth, is of Stephen L Wright.
Steve, who writes under his full name, Stephen L Wright, was born in Yorkshire, England; his father was a Methodist minister, so the family also lived in Derby and Kingston upon Hull. He left school at 18 and went to college to train as a teacher.
His degree from the Open University came later, as part of a career working with or for young people; as well as teaching, Steve also worked on the government’s Youth Training Scheme in the 1980s and currently works as a Youth Officer in the Fire & Rescue Service. He still has a few more years of working ahead of him, but is looking forward to retirement!
Steve has always been interested in history, but his interest in World War II arose through his uncle, S/Sgt Billy Marfleet, who was a British Glider Pilot. He died when his glider crashed into the Channel on the night of 5/6 June 1944 – the start of the Normandy Landings. Steve wanted to know more about Billy’s experiences as a Glider Pilot, so he started researching. The result was ‘One Night In June‘, which he wrote with Kevin Shannon, and which tells the story of the operation in which Billy was involved.
Steve has also written magazine articles and is currently working on his next book.
As a dad and granddad, Steve has a lot of family time but he is also an improving golfer and banjo player.
And now from the author himself:
My interest in, and knowledge of wartime Airborne Forces, continued to grow and I began to read as much as I could find about Operation VARSITY. There wasn’t a great deal of information on this pivotal event, and the only book on the whole operation was in German. So, I continued my research, contacted archives and veterans and ‘The Last Drop; Operation Varsity March 24-25 1945’ is the result.
I call ‘One Night In June’ a labour of love, because it is family-related and it provided a lot of information that my family, particularly my mother who is Billy’s youngest sister, didn’t previously know. I would say the same about ‘The Last Drop’ because, although not family-related, it has brought me great satisfaction and encouragement, as well as a feeling of privilege to be entrusted with the stories from the men who took part in the operation; as long as the book is ‘out there’, their experiences will continue to live.
In compiling ‘The Last Drop’ I used an anecdotal format, only using editorial when necessary so that the greater part of the book is told ‘through the eyes’ of the men who were there as paratroopers, gliderborne troops, glider pilots and members of RAF and US Troop Carrier crews. I received more than fifty accounts from American, British, and Canadian veterans and was granted permission to use others published in books. The stories add poignancy and vividness to the account of this operation. Many of the stories came via email or letter, but I did speak to a number of my contributors on the telephone or in person. As well as personal accounts I also drew on war diaries, unit histories and after-action reports.
Operation VARSITY was the last major airborne offensive of World War II and remains the largest and most successful single-lift airborne operation in history. It was conducted by the British 6th and the American 17th Airborne Divisions, which some three months earlier had been through the hell of the Ardennes. The goal of the operation was to protect the ground troops that would cross the River Rhine by amphibious means. It was a daylight landing on top of heavily defended and fortified positions. Paratroopers and gliders descended through a hail of fire. Once on the ground many had to resort to hand to hand fighting to gain their objectives. All this took place in the fog of a smokescreen created to cover the ground troops who were crossing the river. Casualties, as will be imagined, were not slight and acts of valour were witnessed across the battlefield. The end of the day saw all objectives won and the awarding of two Congressional Medals of Honor, a Victoria Cross and a Conspicuous Gallantry Medal.
The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with editor and publisher Kim Maya Sutton – the three hundred and nineteenth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can read / download my eBooks from Smashwords, Sony Reader Store, Barnes & Noble, iTunes Bookstore and Kobo (Amazon to follow). And I have a new forum at http://morgenbailey.freeforums.org.