Steel Girls at War: Author Michelle Rawlins talks fourth novel following Sheffield women during war
Michelle Rawlins' fourth Steel Girls book will continue the story of Sheffield's steelworking women who stepped forward when men were sent to fight in Europe.
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The fourth novel based on Sheffield's legendary Steel Girls is to be released at the end of this month.
It'll return to the lives of Nancy, Patty and the rest of the girls, as well as welcoming newbie, Hattie, during a crucial part of the war - Dunkirk.
Michelle Rawlins, a journalist whose non-fiction book, Women of Steel, prompted her to begin the Steel Girls series, talked with The Star about her upcoming release, which can be pre-ordered on Amazon, and the ups and downs of writing.
"When I wrote Women of Steel it was all factual information," the author said, "but when you move over to fiction you have to change the style of writing."
This style needed some adapting to, but basing the novels on the very real women she spoke to and wrote about before made the process easier.
She said: "This works for some people who want to engage with history, but in a different way. All the storylines and characters are based on real people and events that were lived by our steel women.
"Book four is about Dunkirk and Nancy is told her husband is missing in action... This happened to so many of our women during the war, not all troops got back to the beaches."
It is set in a time period so often told through the perspective of the men on the battlefields, or the politicians leading the war effort, but Steel Girls takes a different approach.
"Steel Girls tells it from the perspective of the wives and the families who are living in fear of whether their husbands will come back or not," Michelle said. "They had to pull together to adapt to that way of life... It's great to keep their stories alive."
The Steel Girls series has proven popular in Sheffield so far, with Michelle invited to talks and book signings with local history groups and bookshops.
She said: "It's nice to have got a lot of support locally...I get emails from people in Sheffield who say 'my grandma was a steel worker and I didn't know that this was what it was like'."
Steel Girls at War will be published by HQ on August 31, 2023.