Welcome to Novel PASTimes! We are pleased you stopped by today.
Tell us something about where you live.
London is the most beautiful city in the world. Its ancient Roman history –especially in the City proper –is a favourite place for me to roam. I love how the ancient walled city gates are still visible even after centuries.
Is there anything special about your name? Why do you think you were given that name?
My first name, Diana, is special because my father (like myself) was obsessed with history, churches and the architectural legacy of Christopher Wren. It is said that St. Paul’s Cathedral, Wren’s magnum opus, was built on what was once a statue of the goddess Diana in the Roman occupation of the city…way back when it was known Londinium. My maiden name, Foyle, is special to me because it is the same as my favourite bookseller’s in Charing Cross Road.
Do you have an occupation? What do you like or dislike about your work?
Before the war, I was a graduate student in King’s working toward a doctorate in architectural history. Now that the war has come, I am working for the foreign office in translation at a manor house in Bletchley Park –a few hours from London in Buckinghamshire ( I can’t really speak of it, but the Foreign Office translations role is one we feed the public, what I really do is intercept messages, and hold up a listening station in Hut 3 where under my supervisor, Simon Barre, I am charged with making out patterns from Luftwaffe Air Signals).
Who are the special people in your life?
I have two close friends here at Bletchley: Simon Barre and Sophie Villiers. My husband Brent Somerville is a professor of theology at King’s College and is currently a stretcher bearer at the front.
What is your heart’s deepest desire?
To be home with Brent. Our honeymoon never happened. Our wedding night was spent in a Tube shelter as the bombs fell around us.
What are you most afraid of?
A telegram telling me he is taken from me.
Do you have a cherished possession?
My father left me a book of Ditchfield’s Cathedrals of Great Britain. I hold fast to it.
What do you expect the future will hold for you?
Part of me wants it to hold my finishing my doctorate and rebuilding the churches that the bombs have felled. Here, we call the bombs Blitzkrieg (or Lightning War, in German) or just Blitz. There are volunteers on the Paul’s Watch who have badges and pledge their lives night after night to protect the cathedral at Churchill’s behest. I hope my future holds a standing St.Paul’s: it is the tallest building in our skyline…
What have you learned about yourself in the course of your story?
I always thought I wanted to end the war and go back to being a wife and eventual mother. To finally get to keep house and tend to Brent but now that I’ve been given the opportunity to use my degree in a new way I wonder if that will ever be enough. I’ve learned that while I love Brent and while he compliments me, he does not consume me. I need to be my own woman as well. What I am doing in Bletchley for the war is as important as his role at the front. He knew when he married me that I was a strong, intelligent woman (he told me this was part of the reason why he married me) I just hope this lasts beyond the war.
Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you?
I come across as someone who talks too fast and too much. But that is only because I talk when I am nervous and it takes a certain special person to decode that facet of my personality. Fortunately, Brent did. As did Sophie Villiers and Simon Barre when I arrived at Bletchley Park.
Thanks for allowing us to get know you a little better!
Rachel McMillan is the author of The Herringford and Watts mysteries, The Van Buren and DeLuca mysteries and The Three Quarter Time series of contemporary Viennese romances. She is also the author of the London Restoration and The Mozart Code. Her non-fiction includes Dream, Plan and Go and the upcoming A Very Merry Holiday Movie Guide. Rachel lives in Toronto, Canada and is always planning her next adventure
Twitter: @rachkmcinstagram: @rachkmcfacebook: rachkmc1
The Herringford and Watts SeriesThe Van Buren and DeLuca Series The Three Quarter Time Series Dream Plan Go (May 2020)The London Restoration (Aug 2020)