Tuesday, April 19, 2022

"Two Storm Wood"

Philip Gray studied modern history at Cambridge University, and went on to work as a journalist in Madrid, Rome and Lisbon. He has tutored in crime writing at City University in London and serves as a director at an award-winning documentary film company, specialising in science and history.

Gray's grandfather was a captain in the Lancashire Fusiliers and fought through the First World War from start to finish, losing his closest friends along the way. Years after his death, Gray came across a cache of trench maps and military documents that his grandfather had kept, and in which he had recorded the events that befell his unit. Gray was inspired to write his thriller Two Storm Wood when the pull of his grandfather's legacy felt too strong to ignore.

The author applied the Page 69 Test to Two Storm Wood and reported the following:
Page 69 of Two Storm Wood is the last page of chapter 9, and consequently only 13 lines long. In it the main protagonist, Amy Vanneck, emerges from an abandoned dugout, where she has been sheltering from the rain with her companion, Kitty. The dugout turned out to be teeming with ravenous rats, and in fighting her way out with the aid of an entrenching tool, Amy has lost her hat and been covered with mud, filth and blood. She finds herself being stared at by a member of the Chinese Labour Corps, one of the thousands who worked on the battlefields of the Western Front both during and after the war.

These lines show something of the grim and gritty setting for Two Storm Wood, which itself forms a crucial element of the story. It also shows one of the main characters in action. However, the passage is not really long enough to give any hint as to why Amy is there, or what the story is about.

That said, this short passage does show us the beginnings of something important: namely, the main character’s nascent understanding of the world which she has chosen, against all advice, to explore. Amy is determined to learn the fate of her fiancĂ©, who was missing in action during the last summer of the war. The horrors she uncovers bring her to an understanding of the psychological and emotional toll the war inflicted on the men who fought. This journey begins, as here, with an appreciation of the physical hardships and squalor of the front.
Visit Philip Gray's website.

Q&A with Philip Gray.

My Book, The Movie: Two Storm Wood.

--Marshal Zeringue