Thanks to the children from Marlborough Primary and Tytherington High School in Cheshire for all the interest and participation during my visits this week to talk about Riding Icarus and Dream Land.
You were wonderful! It was great to see so much enthusiasm for books, and how many of you want to be writers. You asked so many fantastic questions it’s hard to single out one or two, but one I really liked was “Have you ever dreamed you were a character in one of your books?”
I use ideas and images from dreams a lot in my writing, but only once have I dreamed I was one of my own book characters. I dreamed I was Masha, the heroine of Riding Icarus and of a new, yet to be published novel known so far as It’s a Sweet Word, Kamchatka.
In my dream I was about thirteen years old and I was homeless. I was wearing a horrible grubby pale pink coat that wasn’t warm at all and that I’d never have chosen to wear; I think I was being chased, and that I asked some strangers to help me – all that part is a bit vague now but what I really remember from the dream was the feeling of being cold and dirty and having no clean clothes, nowhere to go. And knowing that I was totally alone. No one cared about me; if people saw me then they quickly looked away and pretended I wasn’t there at all. That terrible feeling of being small and unwanted stuck with me long after I woke up.
I’ve put that dreamed experience into It’s a Sweet Word, Kamchatka, along with some real things that have happened to me and to people I know, particularly homeless children in Ukraine that I met through journalism and charity work. In the book, Masha doesn’t stay living on the streets for too long, but the effect of the world’s indifference stays with her for far longer – as does the amazing kindness of some strangers.
Anyone here ever dreamed you’re a character in a book?