The Circle and the Flame - Available now on Amazon
I’ve always dreamed of being a writer and have dabbled with it over the years, writing theatre reviews for my University magazine, doing long-form copy for marketing agencies and even writing short stories for my children. I finally bit the bullet and did a creative writing course at my local community college. There I met a rich and diverse group of individuals who all wrote for the love of it. I found my voice and wrote my first novel, ‘The Circle and the Flame’. It’s a story about about friendship, love and humanity. Set in Great Britain during the 1980’s, the story unfolds against the political and social backdrop of the changing media landscape, CND, feminism and the growing acknowledgement of domestic violence.
I grew up in the Eighties in a small village in South West England near to Greenham Common. Every weekend we’d drive past the makeshift mess of tarpaulins and tents that made up the camp of women protesting against the storage of nuclear weapons near a small, sleepy market-town in Berkshire. They were such an integral part of my life, these strong, dedicated women, protesting against something they believed in so deeply, through rain and shine; vandalism and eviction.
They were heckled by locals, vilified by the press. They endured derision and insults. They arrived at the site in March 1981 and stayed until 2000. I’d always wonder whenever we drove past who these women were, what or who they’d left behind, whether they had visitors or people to go home to.
I was barely a teenager, it was pre-internet and the only newspaper in our house was the Financial Times. They didn’t dirty their pages with news of the quiet protest that was happening far away from the City of London. I was 12 years old in 1983. The quiet presence of those women had been part of my life for 2 years. on the 1st April we were returning from my grandmothers and as we drove past metres of chain link fence there were women holding hands all around the perimeter. White paper birds fluttered in the links. Everyone in the car fell silent.
‘Dad? Can I go and join them?’
My father pulled over the car and I climbed out. I felt as if I was in someone else’s shoes as I braved the solitary 10 metre wak from roadside to fence-side. It was daunting, exhilarating, and I had the unsettling feeling of something my twelve year old self couldn’t quite comprehend - the understanding that I was part of something much bigger than me, my family, my world. I stood with these women for 10 minutes, overwhelmed, intimidated, but unquestionably welcomed. Growing up with these women as neighbours, and experiencing this very brief encounter, undoubtedly influenced the direction I took as an adult.
When I started researching this book I reached out to some women who had been in the camp, but they were reluctant to talk to me - previous experiences with writers had left them cynical, and hurt. While this story is completely fictional, I used sources now available on the ‘world wide web’ to help weave the narrative.
The title is a tribute to the monument standing at Greenham Common, of seven standing stones encircling a flame sculpture. It represents the Greenham Peace Camp protestors and their occupation of the grounds around the fence of the Greenham Common RAF camp from 1981-2000. They were protesting against the storage of cruise missiles inside the camp.
To those brave, strong women who cared about people, the planet, the world so much; Thank you. This book is for you.
S.Rogers grew up in South West England and now lives in London. ‘The Circle and the Flame’ is her debut novel. Follow on Twitter @srogers_writes.