Jan Selbourne was born and educated in Melbourne, Australia and her love of literature and history began as soon as she learned to read and hold a pen. After graduating from a Melbourne Business College her career began in the dusty world of ledgers and accounting, working in Victoria, Queensland and the United Kingdom. On the point of retiring, she changed course to work as secretary of a large NSW historical society. Now retired Jan is enjoying her love of traveling and literature. She has two children, a stray live-in cat and lives near Maitland, New South Wales.

2020 Character Interview

Beverley: What’s your name?

Andrew: Andrew Conroy, although that wasn’t always my name.

Beverley: Where did you grow up?

Andrew: Kent, England.

Beverley: During what time period does your story take place?

Andrew: 1918 to 1919.

Beverley: What’s your story/back story? Why would someone come up with a story about you?

Andrew: World War One was raging and like millions of men I enlisted. Not out of patriotism, to avoid arrest for assault. I was shipped over to the bloody battlefields of France, and on the eve of the Battle of Amiens, I got talking to a bloke of similar colouring and build. Like me he had no family. Next day, in the thick of battle a shell exploded killing him and wounding me. In front of me was the one chance of a new life. It was a hanging offence, but I was past thinking clearly. I swapped identity discs.

Beverley: What’s your goal in this story?

Andrew: To survive, I cannot make one mistake because my new identity pushed me into a life of family greed and murder.

Beverley: What conflicts are you facing?

Andrew: I’m in the middle of a family at war with each other. And, to complicate things more, a young woman desperately needs help.

Beverley: Do you have a plan for resolving them?

Andrew: Not making one mistake is essential, but planning is impossible when I don’t know what will happen next.

Beverley: Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you?

Andrew: That one desperate act pushed me into a life of lies and now, as I grow closer to this young woman who needed my help, honesty is the only way forward. What will she think of me when I tell her I stole the name of a man who died for his country?

Blurb for The Proposition

They met on the eve of a battle. One enlisted to avoid prison, the other enlisted to avoid the money lenders. On the bloodied fields of France, Harry Connelly collapses beside the corpse of Andrew Conroy. It is a risk, a hanging offence—and his only hope for a future. Harry swaps identity discs.

Now as Andrew, he is just another face in post-war London until a letter arrives with a proposition. Accepting is out of the question, refusing pushes him into a nightmare of greed, blackmail and murder. To survive he must live this lie without a mistake. Then he falls for Lacey and her secrets. Will the truth set them free or embroil them even further in the webs of deceit that surround them?

Excerpt from The Proposition

It took many seconds before his eyes told his brain the craters were dark red and littered with dozens of bloodied, twisted bodies. Some stared up into nothing, some face down. Harry looked behind him, he’d been pinned beneath bodies submerged in the crater still smoking from an exploded shell. The entrails of one body oozed into the bloodied soil and the other body, oh God. Harry’s stomach heaved, he was covered with blood and guts. The ground shook again making him cringe. In the distance, a thick pall of black smoke was covering the rows of men fighting furiously while shells pounded around them, but it was eerily silent. Like the films at the picture house without the words on the screen. 

Harry struggled to his knees and almost fainted from the pain in his leg. Closing his eyes, breathing deeply, he reached down to feel the blood oozing through his trouser leg.

“Come on, move, move.” He dragged himself forward until he came to a mound. “Give up,” his mind screamed, then his eyes settled on a water canteen half buried in the earth. Pulling it out, he unscrewed the cap and drank. Nectar. Spitting the dirt out of his mouth he gulped the water greedily, feeling it flowing through his body and clearing his mind.

“Oh, Jesus.” The mound was a pile of bloodied bodies with sightless eyes. He couldn’t crawl over them. He couldn’t do it. Wheezing with the pain in his leg he inched around them and looked back. The crater was barely thirty feet behind him. He had to stop. Why crawl to the trees? Stay here. Rest.

The throbbing in his leg forced Harry’s eyes open. If he could crawl to the little rise ahead of him, he’d stop there. Using his elbows to propel him, he inched forward and without warning, the earth gave way. Tumbling down the small slope he fell against a solid lump. A lump in uniform whose blank eyes stared directly into his. Jerking back, he clutched his head as excruciating pain tore through his ears. Moaning, he rocked back and forth until it eased and when he opened his eyes bile ran into his mouth. Insects were taking up residence in the gaping, oozing chest cavity while the neck and chin, mouth and nose were strangely untouched. The scalp had gone. Harry turned away as his stomach heaved again. Move, move. Inching forward, his fingers touched a shiny object in the churned soil. He stared stupidly at the unscathed cigarette case.

“Oh no!” he turned back and leaned closer to read the name on the identity discs. Andrew Conroy, his service number and C E. The poor scared bastard with no family. He wanted to move away but his feeble strength failed. He’d rest here for a while.   Holding the cigarette case with both hands, he lay back against the crumbled mound. He was so damn tired.   Voices, shouting. Blinking, he squinted at the hazy moving objects, oh yes, the Red Cross stretcher bearers and wagons were picking up the wounded before the ghastly task of removing the dead.

Harry looked at the cigarette case in his hand and its owner lying next to him. It was a hanging offence. If he did, there would be no turning back. If he didn’t…

He had no strength; his fingers wouldn’t work. Do it, for Christ’s sake, do it. His chest wheezed, and his weak hands fumbled with the effort of pulling Andrew Conroy’s discs over the gaping skull. His arms ached with the mammoth task of removing his. When it was done, he lay beside the body. He wanted to say something, beg him to understand, but he couldn’t find the words. 

His tears dripped onto the soil. “Mate, you are in a better place.”

Buy Link for The Proposition

The Proposition – Kindle edition by Selbourne, Jan. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

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