Simon Hardman Lea

I’m Simon Hardman Lea – obsessive observer of the world and cynical romantic at heart.For the record, I was originally educated in the USA, Oxford and London, and now live and work in Suffolk, UK, where my other job is as a hospital-based eye surgeon.

Why do I write historical novels set in the First World War?

I started with a problem. We all know about the ghastliness of life on the Western Front in the First World war – much has been said and more written about it. And yet…

Why are there many photographs of young men smiling and laughing, even in the trenches of the front lines? How did anyone survive and thrive when facing the extremes of danger?

Many years ago I started reading both factual accounts and novels set in the First World War. After some time, I came to believe that perhaps men and women deal with war as they do all other extreme challenges in life – taking refuge in the safety of routine, in humor, in friendship, love and hate.

And in wartime, all those emotions are greater and brighter, more vivid and more exciting, to the point where many of those who survive find life afterwards dull and disappointing. Maybe now, caught up in our fascination with the grimness of war, we’ve failed to understand some of those emotions.

So I started to write my own novels, a sequence called the Lost Intensities, (taken from a line in a First War poem – The Lost Intensities Of Hope And Fear) which sets out to find stories in the less-explored sides of the war.

Remember that in times of war all stories are possible!