book promotions, World War history, Writing

A war story

Today, I welcome to my blog, Sue Wilkinson who will be telling us about her children’s book Bombs and Bunting, which she also illustrated. Over to you, Sue!

Sue Wilkinson picI’m Sue Wilkinson, a retired primary school teacher, drama enthusiast, lifelong Elvis fan and now, at last, an author!

It’s not that I have only just started writing. In fact, I have been writing plays for as long as I can remember: for schools to perform, for local drama groups, as festival entries and alongside my husband for his touring theatre company. I have also written lyrics and the occasional poem but never a novel, or even a short story. Far too daunting! Too long and so many words! I was used to dialogue and the barest of description in my stage directions.

Not that I didn’t want to write a best seller. Of course I did. Everyone does. It’s just that I thought I had nothing to say. Well, nothing that would take 80,000 words! So I snuggled down into my comfort zone and continued to write plays.

Last year, I wrote a play to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of VE day, for a  group of children to perform in a local drama festival. There could only be one set and, although I wanted a Victory Street party to be central to the play a street scene presented too many difficulties.

Imagine the props needed and The All England Festival rules only allow ten minutes to set up! It also had to be somewhere where a group of children would congregate and the idea of a bombed out house came to me after seeing photos of children playing on city bomb sites. Much easier to set, without the fear of being disqualified because we failed to strike the set in the required time!

There were five characters in the play, which I called ‘Spoils of war’. They were all children aged between ten and fourteen years of age, living in the same terraced street in a northern city and all had reason to avoid the celebrations. Each had suffered in different ways, as a result of the war.

The play won two awards and afterwards the adjudicator happened to mention that he would love to know more about the characters’ back stories and what happens next.

Flushed with success, I decided to write a short story based on the play and armed with the script, attempted to change it to prose. What a challenge that turned out to be for someone used to telling the tale almost entirely through speech! However, after many attempts, I had something resembling a reasonable piece of prose and then wrote a story for each character.

To my delight, I discovered I had written about twenty five thousand words – over half way to a children’s novel! But all I had was five short stories. It lacked structure. Back to the drawing board. Actually, it was more a case of back to the whiteboard because I bought some self adhesive whiteboard paper, for the office wall, before covering it with a plan, a street map of the area and a timeline. I started again.

Four months later, I had written and illustrated my forty one thousand word novel called ‘Bombs and Bunting’!

What I hadn’t bargained for was the sheer enjoyment of writing about these lives and others from the same street. I recalled sayings from my own childhood in Leeds and remembered with great fondness, old friends and the imaginative,exhilarating games we played outside in the street from dawn to dusk in the school holidays. The dialogue was a pleasure to write and caused me to chuckle on many occasions, when I remembered the dry Yorkshire humour of my hometown.

Now, what shall I write about next?

Thank you, Sue, for telling us about your inspirational journey of writing. We wish you all the best in the future for your books!

If you would like to buy Sue’s book Bombs and Bunting, please click here!  Available as a paperback. Bombs and Bunting










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