A poetic and profound read

Erica Yeoman
Erica Yeoman

From a training camp in the shadow of Alnwick Castle to the deadly Battle of the Somme – a new novel captures the impact and the horror of the First World War.

North Northumberland-based writer Erica Yeoman has recently released her second book, Shades of Innocence.

It tells the tale of Jack and Charlie, who arrive at the Northumberland Fusiliers’ training camp, in Alnwick, and both fall for the same girl, Tansy, before the men depart for the brutal Battle of the Somme.

“It is a made-up story and the characters are fictitious, but the facts are there,” says Erica, who lives in the town’s Allerburn Lea and has a big interest in natural history.

“I belong to the local history society and there was a talk about the camp in Alnwick and it was very inspiring.

“I really do feel that it is important that we remember the First World War, and the fact that next year is the 100th anniversary of the start of the war makes it quite relevant.”

The book took the 74-year-old about four years to complete, as she also took time away to focus on her first published novel, Devil’s Drove.

Erica did plenty of research about the period, including looking at local newspapers from the time.

She even managed to get her hands on a diary of a man who had been at the Somme.

It isn’t just writing that captures the imagination of Erica, who is a retired teacher and describes herself as a historical geographer.

She is also a keen artist and the front cover of Shades of Innocence is from one of her original paintings.

Erica writes poetry too and belongs to the Alnwick Playhouse Writers’ Group.

She published her first novel, Devil’s Drove, in 2010, and she is currently writing the sequel, which she is hoping to complete in the summer.

She says she draws inspiration for her writing and painting from Northumberland’s varied landscape and scenery, whether it be the sandy beaches or the Cheviot Hills.

○ Shades of Innocence is on sale from The Alnwick Garden shop and Barter Books.