Michelle Magorian combines her two careers as actress and writer. Her very first book, Goodnight Mister Tom, propelled her to fame and is widely regarded as a modern classic.
THE BASICS Born: Southsea, Portsmouth, November 6th 1947 Jobs: Actress Lives: Petersfield First Book: Goodnight Mister Tom, 1981
THE BOOKS Michelle Magorian never set out to be an author. Her long-held ambition was to be an actress. She studied at The Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama and Marcel Marceau's International School of Mime in Paris. Whilst in Paris, she began a journal. After finishing her training, she embarked on work in touring and repertory theatre companies, continuing to scribble away in secret. It was in this environment that Michelle wrote Goodnight Mister Tom. Whilst researching Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle came across a photograph of a group of English children on a liner, returning from America to England. This picture inspired her second novel, Back Home. Michelle achieved her ambition of becoming an actress and has worked in theatre, television and film. Appropriately, both Goodnight Mister Tom and Back Home have been adapted for television. Back Home was also adapted for BBC Radio 4 and Goodnight Mr Tom has been performed as a stage musical.
WHAT SHE SAYS... 'It was while reading children's books that I suddenly realised I wanted to write one. I expected it to take me until I was eighty to write one that would be accepted for publication. I was stunned when it happened fifty years earlier.'
To create the village of Little Weirwold, 'I literally drew a large map and gradually put in lanes and fields, woods, the river, Grange, cottages, school and church.'
'I don't usually base characters on people I know. I prefer to imagine them. That way I have more freedom.'
'I wrote a short story about the first day of an evacuee and his meeting with Mister Tom and found myself still thinking of them after I'd finished. I wanted to know what happened to this pair. I realised then that I would have to write a book.'
'Research is a bizarre business. No sooner do you start than the most extraordinary coincidences start happening. You bump into the right people on trains and in canteens. You walk into a chaotic second-hand bookshop and through the dusty disorganised piles you spot an old out of print book which you desperately need and you get it for ten pence.'
'Daydreaming is an important part of creating fiction. When the characters begin popping into your head and speaking to one another that's when it starts to get more exciting until you reach a point when you feel as though you're about to burst. Then you know you're ripe to start Chapter One.'
'You have to live with a book for a long time. There will be many days when you will be tempted to throw away what you've written. But you need to keep plodding on. You can always take a break and return to it. You can always rewrite.'
WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT MICHELLE MAGORIAN... 'This not-to-be-missed novel explores a wide range of problems amid an amazing welter of emotions. This is particularly important and striking because the emotions relate to a boy and a man.' Books For Keeps on Goodnight Mister Tom
'The brilliant story of an evacuee with the worst mother in the whole of children's literature.' Sunday Telegraph on Goodnight Mister Tom
'A brilliant story of how love defeats fear.' The Independent on Goodnight Mister Tom
'Beautifully written and fun to read.' Junior Education on In Deep Water
'Michelle Magorian gets right under the skin of her protagonists and makes you experience what they are feeling in a way which stays with you long after the book is finished.' The Telegraph on In Deep Water
'A useful, lively addition to the poetry shelf.' Junior Education on Orange Paw Marks