Lydia has worked with words and stories all her life, in her early career as a radio producer for the BBC World Service, and now as the author of critically-acclaimed YA fiction that explores overlooked areas of the past. A World Between Us, set in the Spanish Civil War, was highly commended for the Branford Boase Award and longlisted for the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize and the UKLA Book Award, among others. All three of Lydia’s novel were inspired, directly or indirectly, by members of her family. Her most recent story, Last Hope was specially commissioned by the National Literary Trust for their reluctant reader programme.
Before becoming a novelist, Lydia wrote a PhD about explorers, poets and Timbuktu, and a biography of an eighteenth-century quack doctor who invented an electrical, magnetic and musical ‘Celestial Bed’ designed to produce perfect babies. She’s now a Royal Literary Fund writing fellow at the Courtauld Institute of Art.
Liberty’s Fire: Paris, 1871. Four young people will rewrite their destinies. Paris is in revolt. After months of siege at the hands of the Prussians, a wind of change is blowing through the city, bringing with it murmurs of a new revolution. Alone and poverty-stricken, sixteen-year-old Zéphyrine is quickly lured in by the ideals of the city’s radical new government, and she finds herself swept away by its promises of freedom, hope, equality and rights for women. But she is about to be seduced for a second time, following a fateful encounter with a young violinist. Anatole’s passion for his music is soon swiftly matched only by his passion for this fierce and magnificent girl. He comes to believe in Zéphyrine’s new politics – but his friends are not so sure. Opera singer Marie and photographer Jules have desires of their own, and the harsh reality of life under the Commune is not quite as enticing for them as it seems to be for Anatole and Zéphyrine. And when the violent reality of revolution comes crashing down at their feet, can they face the danger together – or will they be forced to choose where their hearts really lie?
A World Between Us: Spain, 1936. Felix, a spirited young nurse, has travelled to Spain to help the cause of the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War. But she is also following Nat, a passionate young man who has joined the International Brigades fighting Franco. And George – familiar George from home – is not far behind, in pursuit of Felix … As Spain fights for its freedom against tyranny, Felix battles a conflict of the heart. With the civil war raging around her, Felix must make choices that will change her life forever.
That Burning Summer: Romney Marsh, July 1940. When invasion threatens, you have to grow up quickly. Sixteen-year-old Peggy has been putting on a brave face since the fall of France, but now the enemy is overhead, and the rules are changing all the time. Staying on the right side of the law proves harder than she expects when a plane crash-lands in the Marsh: it’s Peggy who finds its pathetic, broken pilot; a young Polish man, Henryk, who stays hidden in a remote church, secretly cared for by Peggy. As something more blossoms between the two, Peggy’s brother Ernest’s curiosity peaks and other secrets come to light, forcing Peggy and Henryk to question all the loyalties and beliefs they thought they held dear.