Monday, 24 November 2008

Gas Masks, the Blackout and Strange Scary Places...




Aka the Book of my Heart

I've been wanting to write this (children's) book for a long time - probably since I first read 'Goodnight Mr Tom' waaaay back in 1980/1.
I used to talk to my Mum about it and, although she lived in Newcastle when WW2 started, she was never an evacuee. She loved my book idea and told me a lot about people she'd known who did go to a safer place - and those who came back after a few weeks and about Life on the Home Front.
So just over a year ago I decided I'd start writing it. But then...

Mum died and I couldn't bring myself to do it.

Maybe it was getting the first anniversary of her death over, or maybe it was one of my CPs niggling me to write it, or that I've got a two or three mss out with publishers and an agent and I know it will be a while before I hear anything. Whatever, the time feels right now.

As usual when I'm about to start writing something new, I make myself picture prompts while I'm getting to know my characters and the ups and downs of their lives.

Have any of you waited over 27 years to write the book of your heart?

52 comments:

Debs said...

I've been working on something for a bit, and was only thinking yesterday how I wish I'd asked my grandmothers more about their lives whilst I had the opportunity.

I'm sure your book will be wonderful.

Kerry said...

Pat this sounds like a wonderful book. I think it;s a good thing to wait until you are fully ready to embark upon a story - I can't wait to hear all about it!

Pat Posner said...

Hi, Debs
I know what you mean. I wish I'd asked more questions, too. I love hearing about the 'old days' and you never know when listening to an older person's memories will give you a Eureka moment.

Pat Posner said...

Good to see you, Kerry
Well, I can tell you that Rusty, the little dachshund, plays quite a part in the book. He's stoned and threatened by his young owner's neighbours because he's a German breed.

Mummy said...

It sounds like a real book from the heart Pat, I can't wait to hear how you get on. I used to love listening to my Grandma and Auntie's stories from the war years, some very funny, others heartbreakingly sad. I wish they were still here to ask about it all now that I am old enough to really take in what happened. And I certainly understand about wishing your mum was here to ask as well, I know that feeling well. :o(

HelenMH said...

It sounds wonderful. I can't wait to hear more about it.

JJ said...

That sounds wonderful Pat, and I can't wait to read it.

I've not waited to write a specific book, but I've waited and wondered if writing was what I wanted to do. I'm tempted to write wasted... but I guess I'm older and richer (in experience!!!) for the wait.

Good luck. It sounds fantastic.

Carol and Chris said...

That sounds amazing Pat and I think the story will be all the better for you waiting till the time was right to write it!!

I am lucky, my Gran kept a diary at various points during the war so I was able to read about her adventures. My Grandfather was stationed in Cornwall before being shipped out and my Gran decided to cycle from Glasgow to Cornwall to see him before he left...she's got a diary of her journey and leaflets detailing the hostels that she stayed in on her way. She was a feisty lady and I adored her!!

C x

Lane said...

This book has to be written and it sounds like the time is right for you now.

Goodnight Mr Tom is one of my absolute favourites. And the film was rather special too. 'Look dad. I'm riding'. (*sob*)

Pat Posner said...

Mummy, you and I get the 'birthday blues and missing our Mums' at the same time of year ((hugs)).
Mum told me many a tale about happenings in the blackout - some were so funny at the re-telling but I don't suppose they seemed funny at the time.

ChrisH said...

This is going to be a brilliant book, I can feel it in your excitment about the project. Good luck, Pat.

Pat Posner said...

Thanks, Helen and JJ. I so hope, when I've actually written it, somebody will feel it's wonderful enough to publish.

Carol - what a great legacy your Gran left. I don't think anyone in my family kept a wartime diary *sigh*.

Lane, that line was one of THE best. I loved the film, too, I think it was the greatest part John Thaw ever played.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Good luck with it Pat.
Any update on Tessa B yet?

Pat Posner said...

Weaver, thanks for the good luck.
As for Tessa B... well, gentle walks on the lead just didn't work - when we got back from them she started to act like a lunatic trying to run off her energy in the house. We thought she was far more likely to damage herself and her stitches leaping around that way so we've taken a chance and now walk her off the lead. She actually seems to pace herself sensibly, just bumbling here and there with only short slowish runs. And she's stopped dashing round the house and over the furniture and is a happy dog once again.

KAREN said...

But Madam, I'm not old enough!

Oh alright then. This is definitely a book I'd love to read. My mother-in-law has some great stories from this period - in fact she recently sent one off to, I think it was The Times, as they're compiling a database of memories for future generations :o)

Flowerpot said...

oh Pat what a lovely post, and how exciting that you're finally able to start writing it. I'd love to read it - best of luck with it and hearing from the agent etc.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

I'm glad you have decided to write this, Pat. I guess if I have waited 27 years that would have made me around 11 or 12 when I first realised I had a book to write so perhaps my answer is no! I've waited about 10 years to be honest with things to do in between!

CJ xx

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Perhaps your mother has a hand in guiding you thus far. The first and most important anniversary is over and it is time to move forward rather than remain in a period of reflection. Who knows why but if it feels right then something must have clicked into place. Good luck.

Pat Posner said...

ChrisH - Yes, I *think* I'm excited about it.

Karen, I really hope the younger generation and future ones too will want to read it!

Thank you Flowerpot! I think I'll copy and paste all these comments and send them to the publishers with the ms (when it's written).

CJ, you sure know how to make me feel old *grin*

MOB, good to see you here, thank you for visiting. I think you're right about it being time for me to move forward now.

Honeysuckle said...

This is a great idea for a book, Pat - I think it's hard nowadays to imagine how heartbreaking it must've been for parents and children to be torn apart like that.
I feel sure your mum will be watching/guiding your progress.

Pat Posner said...

Hi, Honeysuckle
Well, 'tisn't a new idea of course - there are more than a few 'evacuee' books out there. Hopefully, though, mine will be different enough to be... different.

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

It sounds like it will be an amazing story, Pat. I think you're so right to have waited until you were really read to write this book - that's the nature of story, isn't it, it knows when it's "time" to be told. I hope working on it brings you much pleasure and joy - and that you have great success with it too!

Shirley said...

For a minute there, I thought Rusty had been on the heroine. Wrong sort of stoned. Tsk.

I've never waited so long to write a book, but I'm firmly convinced you know when the time is right. Good luck with it, Pat. Write it for your mum.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Re-reading your piece Pat it occurred to me that your title fits to the tune of my favourite things or would it be better renamed "least favourite things."

Shirley said...

Darn it. Now I can't stop singing My Favourite Things. Or, more accurately, Gas Masks, the Blackout and Strange Scary Places...

Pat Posner said...

Thanks, Vanilla
I hope one day you'll write a book about the peeps!
Shirley!
Weaver, you do know what you've gone and done, don't you?
See Shirley's second comment.

Annieye said...

I lost my lovely mum, too, Pat. On 1st December 2006. My dad died five years before mum and I used go for my dinner on Tuesdays with mum and my great Aunt (she was my mum's auntie). They decided to live together after dad died, but neither of them gave up their home; they just spent half the week at mums and half at Auntie Rita's. The trilogy is really based on 5 years worth of Tuesday dinnertimes when mum and Auntie Rita cooked me whatever I wanted, made a fuss of me, and we talked about 'the olden days' of the 20s, 30's and 40's.

They passed away within a few months of each other. It was strange - Auntie Rita was present both mum's birth and her death and there are not many people can say that, can they. Mum was 74.

So I say go for it, Pat. In memory of your mum.

Pat Posner said...

Aw, Annieye
I'll be thinking of you on Monday.
What lovely memories you must have of your Tuesdays with your Mum and Auntie Rita and great that there'll be characters in your trilogy based on your Tuesday dinner times. As I said over on yours, I can't wait to read the 'Sunlight trilogy'.

And, yes, I will write mine in memory of my Mum.

Amanda said...

My dad was an East End evacuee and I wrote a short story about him and sent it to PF - rejected of course!
Lots of luck with your venture - what a great subject - can't wait to see it in print! x

Pat Posner said...

Hi, Amanda
Good to see you on your weekly visit!

Maybe 'YOURS' mag might be worth subbing your story to?

patteran said...

I'm still waiting...

Jean said...

Sounds a great idea, Pat. My dad, 94, died in March this year. He had an elephant memory and he loved to talk about the past. I kept meaning to record him reminiscing on tape. If only...

Pat Posner said...

Welcome, Patteran

Jean, sorry to hear about your Dad. What a great age he was, though. Hopefully, you'll remember a lot of his reminiscing to pass on to others.

Pondside said...

The book of your heart will be wonderful. I love the idea of stories about children for children. I look forward to hearing more.

The Write Woman said...

Just had a browse through your blog, Pat. Your children's books look lovely! And reading about the 'Book of your heart' made me feel quite emotional! Will look out for you in The People's Friend (now my fave magazine, of course!!)

Pat Posner said...

Great to see you again, Pondside. I've visited your re-opened blog and have put you back on my list of favourite places.

Pat Posner said...

Thank you TWW!
Glad you popped in, look forward to seeing you again - both here and in PF!

Annie Wicking said...

What a wonderful idea!
I'm sure your mum would love to know that at last you put pen to page and wrote the book.

Good luck, Pat.

best wishes,
Annie

Mistlethrush said...

Good luck with the book Pat - sounds interesting and there's not many such books out at the moment so should sell well to schools.

Fionnuala said...

Maybe not 27 years...but I did leave a job 13 years ago telling my then boss that I was leaving to write a book. It just took me eleven and half years to start! Fx

KatW said...

A story like this that has been with you for so long will surely become a heartfelt and absorbing story. The time has arrived to start and I have a feeling you will enjoy writing it and that the words will flow.

Exciting stuff - I'm looking forward to learning more about this new book.

Kat :-)

Melissa Marsh said...

I am waiting to write one book right now - I started it, but couldn't finish it. It wasn't the right "time." I don't know if it's the book of my heart, but I think the story is wonderful.

And being an avid lover of WW2, I can't wait to read the book that you're going to write!

Pat Posner said...

Annie, apart from the detailed character lists and loadsa scribbles on scraps of paper, as of now it's only written in my head (heart?). But I know it won't be long before I get the right opening lines and then the rest will just follow.

Hi, Carol
Thanks for the good luck. It would be great if schools like it enough to read it in their WW2 sessions.

So, Fionnuala, is this the one you wrote so many words for in Nano?

Kat
Good to see you. Yes, I'll really enjoy writing this one. I hope you're feeling less tired now after your hard work on Bodmin Bookworm.

Melissa
Welcome to my blog and thanks for visiting. I hope you don't have too wait much longer until the time's right for you to get back to your book.

Lettice said...

Hi again.
Your book sounds fantastic, is this the book you were always 'meant' to write? I love books set in WW2, there is something about the quality of spirit of people involved and the everyday joys mingled with very real terrors that makes the stories special and truly heartwarming.
I've been talking about writing for years, but it wasn't until I had a sudden shock that I realised that if I don't do it I'll never do it.
I mentioned in my blog I've been writing my children's book for five years, it's not quite 27 years, but it will probably be a long time before I actually do finish that one though.

Pat Posner said...

Hi, Lettice
Good to see you here! Yes, I think this is the book I was always meant to write; I got 3/4 through writing a WW2 saga (for grown-ups) but even then I kept thinking of this one. I've actually pinched one of the minor young characters out of that book for Gas Masks...

I hope your children's book won't take 22 years to finish!

Lettice said...

Oooh - a link would be good, thanks.
I'm south of Manchester, so at least two trains away from Todmorden.
Got some fevered brows to soothe.

Tam said...

Really looking forward to seeing this, Pat. Hope you're making the most of being snowed in!!

Lettice said...

How is the seasonal snow weather up the hill? Hope it's not too cold. Have you got your war cupboard stocked up for winter?

Pat Posner said...

Hi, Tam
Hmm, being snowed in is hard work when one has to struggle down the steep, bumpy icy hills to get a taxi and go to the Drs surgery for a prescription that dear dh should have picked up 1 week ago.
Of course while I was out, I got a few items for my war cupboard, Lettice. I dragged them back up icy hills in bin bags. Only to discover the bottle of milk I bought wasn't there. Aaaaaaaaaargh!
Now Tessa B is hooked on watered down evaporated milk!

Shirley said...

Phew! Glad to hear you managed to get out, Pat. We're totally stuck up here today. Glad you got supplies for the war cupboard ... ooh, yes, I can see the smoke signals from here. ;o)

Pat Posner said...

Oh, yes indeed, Shirley!
Thank heavens it was the milk and not the more important item that got left on the counter - tea leaves were horrible to smoke.

Ladybird World Mother said...

Oh well done for doing it now, even with the long wait! Looking forward to seeing the real thing.