About RJJ Hall

I began to write soon after retiring as a chartered accountant. Two high points from that career – being Finance Director at the Royal Opera House and two years living and working in Milan – influenced what I chose to write about.

I had read about the re-opening of the San Carlo theatre after the liberation of Naples in late '43 and also about the misery of the fighting at Monte Cassino in early '44 (see Background to the Novels). Both stories had moved me intensely and these feelings were heightened by the contrast between events that were happening only fifty miles apart. 

For many months this disparity simmered at the back of my mind. Then, unbidden, came the idea of a young woman linked to two soldiers: one fighting at Cassino; the other running a theatre in Naples. I became determined to write the story. 

I went to Italy frequently (including memorable visits to Monte Cassino and Naples) and read extensively about the war in Italy. I thought a lot about my characters and their backgrounds and quickly realised that the story started in Egypt so I extended my research to cover the Desert War.

After much rewriting and an extensive process of review with guidance from a freelance editor, I finished the novel which Troubador published in September 2013 – in time for the 70th anniversary of the landings in Italy. I was of course delighted when Theatres of War won The People’s Book Prize (Fiction) 2013/14.

I had written Theatres of War as a single novel with no thought of returning to the subject. However, whilst working on a different story, I found myself wondering what happened to the characters after May ‘44. The only way to find out was to write a second novel. The result was Embers of War, which follows on from Theatres of War but is self-contained and can be read on its own. 


 © rjjhall 2020