Today Peter Yeldham joins us to share the inspiration behind his latest novel The Last Double Sunrise. Plus, to celebrate the release of this novel we have an ebook copy for worldwide giveaway.
I was eighteen when I first saw Italian prisoners-of-war who’d been captured in North Africa and sent to Australia. Until then I’d enjoyed nearly two years as a teenage writer in wartime Sydney, surviving those polite but lethal letters that said ‘The Editor regrets’ until receiving the inevitable letter that was a call-up to the army.
We recruits trained at Cowra not far from the Italian POW camp, and it was there I first became aware of the camaraderie between the Italians and their Aussie guards. Many POWs who worked on local farms were trusted to return to the camp unescorted each day, a privilege never given to Japanese or German captives.
The Italian sector was a surprising place. It had an orchestra and a choir as well as workshops where sculptors crafted miniatures of Roman icons, like the Coliseum and Pantheon. There were also painters, some of whose work is still in local galleries and in my research for this book over the past two years, I kept meeting people who recalled the friendly Italians of those days.
The war ended while I was at Cowra and I returned to civilian life and scripts for radio, until television began in 1956. The TV moguls imported shows from overseas at first, so my wife and I sold everything we owned and, with our two children aged five and two, tried our luck in England. We planned on a visit of two years, but stayed 20.
London was a great place in the sixties. I wrote for British and American television, as well as stage plays and feature films. One of the films The Liquidator was directed by renowned cinematographer Jack Cardiff, and we became close friends.
Jack and his wife lived in Rome, and on one of our visits there we spent a day in the Villa Medici, the French-owned galleria. By the time we left that artistic treasure trove near the Spanish Steps I had the start of an idea about a young Italian painter, and how Rome’s most famous gallery changed his life.
It had taken 70 years, but that visit triggered the long-ago memory of Cowra’s wartime POW camp, a memory that prompted the writing of this novel.
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The Last Double Sunrise by Peter Yeldham was officially launched by Mayor Bill West at the Italian Memorial and POW Campsite in Cowra, NSW on Friday 20 October 2017.
Right to Left – Mayor Bill West, Peter Yeldham author of ‘The Last Double Sunrise’ and For Pity Sake Publishing Principal, Jen McDonald at the book launch in Cowra.
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The Last Double Sunrise Synopsis:
Carlo Minelli is about to discover that war and art are certainly not mutually exclusive.
His politically ambitious father is carefully curating Carlo’s future at the family’s Lombardy vineyard. But Carlo and his artistic mother have other ideas. On the day he is meant to take up a highly coveted art scholarship at the French-run Villa Medici in Rome, Il Duce declares war. Carlo is turned away from the Villa’s heavily guarded entrance, leaving him neither a student nor gainfully employed in support of the war effort.
Press-ganged into the Italian Army and captured in North Africa, Carlo the POW sketches and paints his way across three continents and several oceans, bringing the hardships of World War II into sharp relief against unexpected mateship, beauty and love.
“The silly sods think they’re all being shipped to Austria. They’ll get one hell of a shock when they end up in Australia!”
(For Pity Sake Publishing, 2017)
About the Author, Peter Yeldham
Peter Yeldham’s extensive writing career began with short stories and radio scripts. He spent 20 years in England, becoming a leading screenwriter for films and television, also writing plays for the theatre including Birds on the Wing and Fringe Benefits, which ran for two years in Paris. Returning to Australia he won numerous rewards for his mini-series, among them 1915, Captain James Cook, The Alien Years, All the Rivers Run, The Timeless Land and Heroes. His adaptation of Bryce Courtenay’s novel Jessica won a Logie Award for best mini-series. He is the author of several novels including Barbed Wire and Roses, A Distant Shore, Against the Tide and A Bitter Harvest. For Pity Sake is honoured to be the publisher for Peter’s two latest works, Above the Fold and Dragons in the Forest. For more information please visit www.peteryeldham.com.
We have an ebook copy of The Last Double Sunrise by Peter Yeldham (.epub or .mobi format) to giveaway thanks to For Pity Sake Publishing.
- open worldwide, entries close midnight 10 November 2017
- extra entries for spreading the word via Twitter [+2], Pinterest [+3] and Facebook/Google+/Webpage [+4]
- the winner will be randomly selected and announced on our Facebook Page
SORRY, ENTRIES CLOSED – See winner announcement