Diana Bishop is a former TV broadcaster and the author of a new book about her grandfather Billy Bishop, the flying ace who shot down 72 German planes in World War I. Her book is called ‘Living Up to a Legend – My Adventures With Billy Bishop’s Ghost.’ The other night I joined her for a screening of the film Billy Bishop Goes to War at the prestigious National Club in downtown Toronto. It was a few days before November 11th. Incidentally, this year marks the 100th anniversary of her grandfather getting the Victoria Cross from King George V.
When Diana isn’t writing books she helps ‘brand’ her clients and she branded me. What’s the brand?
‘A crusader for preserving history through the actions of unsung heroes.’
I probably never would have thought of that myself, but she’s right. Every book I ever wrote embodies this theme – some more, some less – but it’s always there. They are stories about heroes, and in the case of historical novels, about protagonists fighting some grave injustice.
Gift of the Bambino is a coming-of-age tale over three generations about a boy and his grandfather, and how the two are bound by baseball and Babe Ruth. In that one the Grandpa is the hero.
The Last Witness is about a 100-year-old man who is the last living survivor of the Holocaust in a near-future world where people know little of the past. The survivor is the hero in that story.
Qumran is about an archaeologist who makes a dramatic discovery in the Holy Land and who is caught in the storm between science and religion. The archaeologist, whose core ideas are challenged in the novel, is the hero in this one.
So now I have put all this into a presentation that explores the stories, actions and issues around many an unsung hero. And, of course, why history is important. I call it, well, A Crusader for Preserving History.
If only I can find the right cape.