Brighton Magazine

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Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Monday 22 January 2018

Home Before The Leaves Fall: Debut Novel Offers A Unique Perspective On Horrors Of First World War

Brighton author N L Collier offers a different perspective of the First World War in his début historical novel, Home Before The Leaves Fall.

"My book is about German soldiers in the Great War, unlike most other English language fiction set during that conflict. 

"It gives readers a different perspective on a war that may feel familiar," explains N L Collier, of this début novel which follows two young soldiers as they struggle to survive during a period of danger and uncertainty."

August 1914: as war breaks out across Europe, German university student Franz Becker rushes to enlist. Franz is nineteen and the war appears to offer and adventure and the opportunity to escape from his dull, safe life. 

Franz's closest friend, Karl von Leussow, is appalled by the conflict. Karl's family has provided the Prussian Army with officers for generations and he knows that war is brutal and bloody. But Karl too enlists to defend his country.

After six weeks of inadequate training, the new recruits arrive in Ypres where intense fighting results in slaughter.

Franz is profoundly shocked by the scenes he witnesses, but learns to fight for his life. 

Promoted to corporal and then sergeant, Franz rises up the military ranks until he is pressured to become an officer. 

Unwilling to take the "express ticket to eternity", he refuses the role. Karl, who grew up hunting, becomes a sniper much to Franz"s dismay.

"First World War aviation has always fascinated me and at the end of Home Before the Leaves Fall, my narrator leaves the trenches to become a pilot," explains Collier.
"Aircraft at the that time were fragile and unreliable, and crashes were frequent, so he was taking a bold leap into the sky."

"I am most inspired by real events. The Great War has been a passionate interest of mine and I have read a large number of histories and memoirs in both English and German. 

"I have also visited Ypres and Verdun more than once, and find both places deeply moving," concludes the author.

As aircraft start to appear increasingly above the trenches, Franz starts to wonder what it would be like to fly and observe the war from above. 

When he applies for a transfer to the Air Service, Franz tries to persuade Karl to go with him, but his friend refuses. Before separating for the foreseeable future, the two go on leave together, perhaps for the final time.

N L Collier was a professional pilot for 20 years and has a lifelong passionate interest in the Great War, especially the German side. 

Home Before the Leaves Fall, published on 28th January 2018, is the first novel in The Flowers of the Grass series.To purchase a copy CLICK HERE.

by: Mike Cobley


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(c) Tom Sheehan 2018

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