The Way To London
William Morris Pub
September 19th, 2017
The Way To London by Alix Rickloff is very much a relationship story with the backdrop of World War II. It is the flip-flop Cinderella story about a rich girl and poor boy. Instead of having the military aspect the author concentrates on how the civilian population endured the war. The book starts out in Singapore in 1941, just three months before Pearl Harbor, where the population is still free of any concerns. Lucy Stanhope, the granddaughter of an earl, is living a life of pampered luxury in Singapore until one reckless act will change her life forever. Exiled to England to stay with an aunt she barely remembers, she sees the devastation first-hand as the Nazis blitzkrieg London. Her companion, Bill, a twelve-year-old boy, journeys with her as both escape the English countryside heading for the city. She hopes to meet up with a Hollywood producer as she seeks fame and fortune, while at the same time helping Bill to find his mother. In the course of their journey they encounter a soldier, Michael, whom Lucy originally met in Singapore, He takes on the responsibility of getting Lucy and Bill safely to London.
Elise Cooper: How did you get the idea for the story?
Alix Rickloff: I think the kernel of an idea came from the character Lucy who was mentioned in my first book. In that book I already had a little of her backstory and the setting of Singapore. I wanted to connect the dots as I had her travel from the Near East to England. In the course of my research I learned of the evacuations and what the civilian life was like during World War II.
EC: How would you describe Lucy?
AR: Self-centered, snarky, sarcastic, cynical, and someone who says whatever she is thinking. I think she very much starts out as a character that readers do not root for, but as the story progresses they will connect with her. She turned her negative traits into positive ones, a flip-flop.
EC: How would you describe Michael and the difference in personality from Lucy?
AR: Loyal, brave, never gets rattled, and just an overall good guy. He is an insider who people are drawn to, while Lucy is the outsider. She chased belonging and tried not to be invisible. She is searching to find her place in the world.
EC: How would you describe Bill?
AR: Like many twelve-year-old boys, he thinks he has it all figured out. He wants to be an adult, but many times acts as a child. Definitely a con artist. Both he and Lucy grew up way too soon and this is what draws them together.
EC: Do you think the story speaks about the “Great Generation?”
AR: Yes. They had a quiet resolve with an all out effort to win the war. I am not sure this could ever be replicated. Everybody felt honor bound to do their part and pull their weight and make the necessary sacrifices.
EC: How does WWII fit in?
AR: It is the catalyst that sets all three characters on their respective journeys. I wanted to explore how they had to get through the every day indignities of war, what did the citizens go through. Despite all the violence and sorrow, what gave them the ability to cope?
EC: Was there a reason you made both Michael and Lucy designers?
AR: This was definitely subconscious. I wrote in one scene where Michael’s mother says he is able to look at something and see what could be. Although she was speaking of designing buildings she also meant he could look at Lucy and see what she could become. Lucy, a designer of dresses, could see beyond what was in front of her. She saw that her family was much wealthier than Michael’s, but he is rich with a sense of community.
EC: What about their relationship?
AR: I think Lucy fought falling in love with Michael. She did it unknowingly. She first saw him as an everyday guy that she equated with dullness. He saw the good in her before she saw the good in him.