One of my questions in telling this story is 'How do I incorporate all my research material with Hugh's letters in a way that feels natural and unforced?'
I have been thinking about writing a 'secret diary'. The idea being that Hugh wrote this diary while in America. But this just felt fake and, as one of my friends said to me, this story has to be authentic.
Then last week I had a better idea. I have been talking with a few American writers and they picked up on descriptions of my grandmother and it occurred to me that Granny was as much a part of this story as was my great-grandfather. She introduced me to the story. She shared the letters. She told me the stories. And ultimately she gave me the letters.
And I remembered an interview I filmed with her in 1991 when she talked about her father and life as a child before the 1st World War. I went through my tapes and found the footage: there was an hour and a half of unedited reminiscences.
So yesterday I edited this down to seven minutes. How strange to hear her voice again after so many years. It was bittersweet.
I have finished the video with the comment about Hugh's parents attitude - that they felt he was letting them down by not joining the army and going to America. This is a good starting point for the story.