At Yellowbird Education, we are starting an ‘Meet the Author’ section to complement our Book of the Month section.
September 2018’s featured book is, Wolf Children, by Paul Dowswell. This is a gripping World War II drama set in the dangerous streets of Berlin just after the end of the war. I can’t put it down!
Meanwhile, we are delighted to have secured an interview with the author himself. Paul Dowswell has won many awards for both fiction and non-fiction. He is a leading writer of some of the best Historical Fiction in the UK today. For further information about his books: http://www.pauldowswell.co.uk
Q&A date: July 2018.
Thank you for taking the time to talk to us here at Yellowbird Education.
Q. Do your ideas mostly start with a character, time, place or a theme?
PD. My ideas start with a historical situation which I think a reader will find interesting - for example, what was it like to be a child or a teenager in Berlin immediately after the war ended. It's difficult for us in 2018 to imagine such utter devastation in prosperous Europe.
Q. Do you plan your stories right to the end before you start writing? Is planning important to you?
PD. I always have a good idea where my story is heading because I write a detailed synopsis before I begin to write.
Q. Where do you start when you are visualising a main character?
PD. I find a picture or painting and decide 'THAT is what my character will look like.'
Q. What tip would you give a young writer about writing beginnings?
PD. Your reader has a hundred other things they can do. Why should they read your book? Make the start of your story as intriguing as possible.
Q. Do you have a writing motto or mantra?
PD. Bash on! Even when you don't feel like it, something good usually comes out of a day's writing.
Q. ‘The characters in Wolf Children lead the story through the choices they make.’ Would you agree with this statement?
PD. Yes - there is always a reason to do something. Is it the right one?
Q. Wolf Children is set in Germany after World War II. How did you research this?
PD. I have been to Berlin twice to research books. I love the place. I also read very widely and watched documentaries.
Q. You have written many books. If you were to put all your main characters in a room, do you think they would like you if you walked in? Why?
PD. No - they would say 'Why did you give me such a terrible time in that story???' I would say 'Sorry - had to keep the reader turning those pages...'
Q. What is the point of writing stories?
PD. Mainly to entertain, but also to educate and to encourage reading - and to pay my gas bill... Reading fiction develops empathy - and I don't think we have enough of this in the world at the moment.
Q. Would you be prepared to visit a school and give a talk about writing?
PD. I visit schools all over the country, and the world, so I'm always happy to visit schools to talk about my books and give writing workshops.
Thank you, Paul. We wish you all the best with your writing. Perhaps, you’ll come and give a talk at one of Yellowbird’s Creative Writing courses soon?
Interviewer: Viv Richardson