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Born in West Yorkshire in 1963, Robert Allison graduated from university with a 1st class combined honours degree in Drama, History and English. He went on to work as a theatre director and then as a marketing director in a music distribution company before taking up duties as a copy editor of digital media in educational publishing. He has over twenty short fiction credits in various online and print publications in the UK, the USA and Australia. He is the author of a children's book for The O'Brien Press. 'The Letter Bearer' is his first novel.

Q&A (excerpt)

What first drew you to write about the Second World War?

It's a period in history I've always been fascinated by. My grandfather had stories from his service as a British Army sergeant in the Far East. In fact it was one of those – which involved a three day trek through the Burmese jungle while carrying a wounded pilot – that provided the genesis of the book.

And why deserters?

I think the psychology of desertion is something that we're ready to consider afresh in light of our modern-day understanding of the traumas of combat experience.

The novel centres on a cache of letters from soldiers to their loved ones at home. Did you refer to genuine war correspondences to base these upon?

That was an essential part of the research, and I found plenty of interesting and often very touching examples. What became immediately evident was the extent to which soldiers would make light of their own situation and instead be concerned only for the welfare of those they were writing to.

(Excerpt courtesy of Granta Books. The full Q&A is available to read here.)