WOMEN & Children First is a fascinating new novel about the Titanic survivors, written by Milngavie born author Gill Paul - and published to coincide with the centenary of its sinking on Saturday.
Gill runs her own publishing business in London but is originally from James Watt Road, where her professor dad still lives.
She says she wanted to capture the ‘extraordinary saga about life before and after the sinking of the most famous ship of all time’.
Women & Children First is a work of fiction, which draws heavily on detailed research she has done following on from her first book on the ill-fated liner, the non-fiction ‘Titanic Love Stories’, published last year, about the 13 honeymoon couples on board the doomed ship.
On her research, Gill said: “I talked to relatives of survivors and became passionately interested in everything to do with the Titanic.
“The main character in Women & Children First was inspired by a photograph of a very handsome young man, who was a steward in first class, and who died. Nothing is known of what happened to him, and little is known of his background.
“I invented the character of Reg Parton with his picture in mind.”
The novel follows the fortunes of Reg, Annie, an Irishwoman who is travelling to America with her four children to join her husband and start a new life, Juliette, a titled English lady who is pregnant and unmarried, an American millionaire and his wife who are trapped in a poisoned marriage, and a mystery passenger who never shows her face in public.
All but one survive the sinking but each has to learn just how they can possibly carry on when they finally reach New York.
Gill, who studied English and history at Glasgow University in the 1980s, before heading down to London, added: “The sinking of the Titanic not only stole hundreds of lives, it blew apart the futures of those who survived.
“Coming to terms with the shocking events, the survivors form new attachments, make decisions with tragic consequences, and watch all their old certainties crumble. How can life ever be the same again when you have heard 1,500 people dying in freezing water around you?”
The author admits to always having a fascination with ships, and says it is in her blood. Her grandfather on her mother’s side was an engineering turner at John Brown’s and her father’s father was an draftsman at Scotts Shipbuilding.
She said: “I was brought up with stories of ships and especially the Titanic. But what interested me was the human impact of such a traumatic event. Out of the 711 survivors there are eight suicides we know about.
“Some of the survivors were shunned by society and many of the men who survived never admitted to being on the Titanic.”
Women & Children First is published by HarperCollins and available at Milngavie Book Shop priced £7.99.