I am thrilled to be kicking off the Mohinder’s War blog tour and am excited to be sharing a guest post from the author Bali Rai, about how much research went into the book. This was a really interesting read and I hope you all enjoy.
A big thank you to Faye Rogers and Bloomsbury for allowing me to be part of this blog tour.
What Research Went Into Mohinder’s War
The research for Mohinder’s War was mostly done online. When I was first published nearly twenty years ago, it wasn’t always so straightforward. Finding information, particularly about hidden or ignored aspects of British history, involved numerous (and always welcome) trips to archives and libraries. You had to know that unheard voices existed, too. Or discover their existence by chance whilst researching other topics. That was how I learned of the immense contribution India and other former colonies made to British efforts during both world wars. Something that I was never taught at school.
I had written about those Indian contributions already. From my novel City of Ghosts, to an earlier Flashbacks book, The Night Run, and my recent title Now or Never. I had pages and pages of handwritten notes covering various aspects of the Indian war experience during Empire. Research gathered from non-fiction, and historical websites and archives over eighteen or so years. Those notes were invaluable for Mohinder’s War because they gave me a head start. They also provided me with a background. Mohinder’s War follows the same vein as those previous works. In fact, I consider them to be related, in style, feel and subject matter.
Mohinder’s War also continues my passion for writing unheard voices. For writing war stories every bit as exciting and worthwhile as those with white British protagonists. I enjoyed countless World War Two stories during my childhood. Yet, not once did I encounter non-white lives. I want to change that for today’s school pupils. To make clear that non-white voices existed too. That they played a huge role in British efforts. That they were integral to victory. To allow youngsters to consider why certain voices remain unheard and certain stories unwritten. To encourage that debate.
There’s also another side to my research. Facts and detail are great, but my primary focus is the human experience. So, alongside dates and facts about planes and uniforms and distances between various places etc…, I researched the lives of ordinary folk in France and Britain. I can’t begin a draft without knowing what my characters think and feel, and their motivation for being part of my plot. I even know what they eat for breakfast and which books they might read. Discovering how ordinary French families lived under occupation, knowing what the weather was like, how the fields and lanes might have looked – all of this gives me a focus. I develop a landscape in my imagination and place my characters within it. After that, the details matter less. The most important thing is how the characters feel and how they react to the drama that unfolds. The rest, although important, isn’t the focus. For Mohinder’s War, you get the France I imagined after my research was complete. It may not be factually correct in detail, but who cares? It works for the story and that’s all that matters.
Mohinder’s War by Bali Rai
Published By: Bloomsbury Education
Released: 11th June 2020
*This post contains affiliate links, this means, at no extra cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and purchase the linked item.*
A thrilling World War II adventure set in occupied France, featuring an Indian RAF pilot. Great for fans of Michael Morpurgo and John Boyne, and those who want diverse historical fiction.
Thirteen-year-old Joelle Breton stumbles across Indian-born RAF pilot Mohinder Singh when his plane crashes in occupied France and it’s up to her and her parents to hide him from the Nazis. After all, her parents are brave members of the French Resistance and will do everything they can to help get Mohinder back to Britain. But when they are betrayed and tragedy strikes, Joelle and Mohinder will have to act fast if they are ever to evade the enemy.
About Bali Rai
Bali Rai has written over forty novels about teenagers and children. Born in Leicester, his writing is inspired by his working-class, multicultural background. A leading voice in UK teen fiction, Bali is a passionate advocate of libraries, reading for pleasure and promoting literacy. He has nearly twenty years of experience in working with young people across the UK and further afield and is extremely popular with schools. He has been nominated for and won numerous awards since 2001.