Robert has a novel idea!

Author Robert Allison.
Author Robert Allison.

Roberttown author Robert Allison has launched his first novel this week detailing the life of a Second World War soldier.

The 51-year-old, who splits his time between West Yorkshire and London, released The Letter Bearer with major London publisher Granta Books yesterday.

Robert said he was ‘very excited’ to be launching his first novel.

“As a budding writer you become accustomed to your work being read by only a few people, so I’m thrilled to finally have a novel out there anyone can pick up and enjoy,” he said.

The Letter Bearer tells the story of an injured motorcyclist with amnesia who is found in a North African desert by a group of hide-away British Army renegades.

The injured man slowly reconstructs his past using, among other things, letters in his bag.

It was the stories of Robert’s grandfather, a Teeside-born Second World War British Army sergeant who moved to Yorkshire in middle age, which first inspired him to write the book.

He said: “It was the story of his transport plane being shot down over Burma, and his subsequent three-day trek through the Burmese jungle carrying a wounded airman on an aeroplane door.”

Robert said he drew from his childhood memories of Roberttown when writing the book.

“The memory I have of walking the family dog through Bluebell Woods near Roberttown when I was a boy, that recollection was very much in my mind when I had a soldier write about walking his dog through woodland in one of his letters home,” he said.

The novel highlights the trauma of combat and the feelings of desertion that Robert feels are under-explored in accounts of modern-day combat.

“War stories, perhaps understandably, tend to concentrate on acts of heroism and bravery, but there is a flipside which hasn’t often been touched upon, which is that of the soldier who chose not to fight.”

Robert has previously written short stories and children’s book, The Demon from the Deep End, under pen name, James Allison.

“I thought that sounded more literary,” he said.

He will start work on his next book, a suspense thriller set after the First World War, after he has finished his current publicity tour.