We are delighted to announce that both Goodnight Mister Tom and Back Home have been chosen by Puffin Books to be reprinted with brand new covers as part of a twenty title list of Stories To Last A Lifetime in a series called A Puffin Book Read more >>>>
I’m very happy to announce that I will be appearing at both the Chalk Valley History Festival and the Festival of Chichester 2014.
In April I was asked to write an article for the History Hub on the Chalk Valley History Festival Website. I hope it will wet your appetite for my talk, which is on 26th June 2014 at 17:00. Click on the picture to the left to buy tickets.
If you can’t make that, then I hope you can join me at Chichester Library (tickets only £3!) on July 1st at 19.30.
Here’s a link to book tickets for that Festival of Chichester 2014 event.
I hope to see you there!
News just in: You can buy the brand new Back Home copies at Michelle’s talk at the Festival of Chichester 2014 on July 1st – two days ahead of publication
Living Together Again
Cuckoo In the Nest and A Spoonful of Jam
(Written at the request of members of Book Clubs.)
It was while I was carrying out research for my second novel Back Home that I became aware of the problems facing families who had to adjust to living together after having been separated during the Second World War.
(Penguin Customer Service Number for Back Home is 0870 607 7600) Back Home tells the story of a girl returning to England from America after five years. Like many shocked, disorientated and lonely sea-evacuees she is faced with bombed streets, rationing, having to live with relatives who are strangers and being expected to behave like an English girl.
After its publication a theatre director approached me and told me that evacuees in England also had difficulties living with their families again. He had been sent to Devon where he had lived for years with two elderly unmarried sisters. He had loved his time there and had planned to be a farmer.
His father, however, on returning from serving overseas, insisted that he come home and begin an apprenticeship. He was bitterly unhappy. What helped him cope was his evening work at two Variety theatres.
Yesterday it was announced that the play of Goodnight Mister Tom has won the Olivier Award for Best Entertainment And Family!
“I’m absolutely delighted for the cast. They are an incredibly talented and lovely group of people and Oliver Ford Davies is stunning as Mister Tom, making people laugh one minute and well up with tears the next. After the West End run, when they were touring they were often doing two shows and sometimes three shows a day on top of having to find places to live.
By an extraordinary coincidence, the choreographer of the musical version of Goodnight Mister Tom, Bill Deamer, who saved the day on its opening night in Manchester in 1995 also won an award tonight for Best Choreographer (Top Hat).
The boy playing William had fallen ill and lost his voice. There was a packed house and it looked as though the performance would have to be cancelled.
‘Play as cast’ were the words written on a long term acting contract with a repertory theatre company. I was not only fortunate enough to have been offered these contracts but my work was mostly in theatres that were three and a half weekly rep.
For six days a week these companies would have three weeks to rehearse a new play or musical followed by the technical and dress rehearsals, while giving six evening performances and two matinees of the preceding production. Each month we would be given the cast list for the following play/musical and would be expected to play whatever was thrown at us. Occasionally I was cast as more than one character in the same piece.
We are delighted to announce that Michelle’s new book Impossible! is available now.
Michelle will be appearing at a few events around the country and the official launch will be held at Theatre Royal, Stratford East on6th November. I asked Michelle whythey wanted to use that particular venue for the launch and she answered:
Twelve-year-old Josie, a tomboy from a working class background, is in her first term at a London stage school, which turns out to be more like a finishing school for the upper classes. She is firmly told that there is little possibility of her being given an acting role with a professional company until the following year. Fortunately she is offered one in an American comedy. Unfortunately she is mistaken for one of the other cast members and kidnapped.
She escapes and, with the help of a fellow runaway, heads for the Theatre Royal Stratford East. Hiding in the theatre he and she witness Joan Littlewood working with the cast of a new musical where the approach to acting is far more physical and includes improvisations. It is a far cry from her stage school where the pupils are endlessly told to keep smiling, be elegant and make sweeping gestures. Josie decides to hide in the theatre for as long as she can so that she can learn more.
Meanwhile, the kidnappers discover her whereabouts and head for the theatre. Escaping from them by the skin of their teeth Josie and her friend, Mr Beauvoisin are discovered on the roof by Joan Littlewood who offers them both a fortnight’s work and a taste of a new way of acting.
But the criminals are still hot on Josie’s tail.
For more information visit:
Publication date: 16 October 2014
Format: Paperback, 592pp/colour cover
Age range: 10+
Pub price: £7.99
Rights available: World
I’m happy to announce that I will be appearing at a Question and Answer session on the 18th December after the Tower Theatre Company’s production of Goodnight Mister Tom, The Musical. The Q & A session is FREE to those who have tickets for the Wednesday performance. To secure a ticket please make sure you book in advance!
The shows are at 7.30pm on Tuesday 17th through to Saturday 21st December and there is a matinee at 3pm onSaturday 21st December.
<<< Click on the poster for more details and to book a ticket.
‘Break a leg’ to the cast and company and hope to see you there with a question on the 18th.
When I read the book I felt sad for William, his mum was mean to him and didn’t know how to look after him properly, he hadn’t ever celebrated his birthday and he had no friends until Zach, who died trying to find William. I imagine he always felt scared of what might happen next. Read more >>>>
We have just heard that the excellent four-part radio serialisation of Back Home is to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 extra starting this Sunday, 23rd June at 09:00 and 17:00. The broadcast stars Mary Wimbush.
For The Archers fans amongst you, Mary played Nigel’s formidable Mother, Julia Pargetter.
Click on the image above to listen.
(For those of you who live outside the UK, you can still listen after the show is broadcast by downloading it from the iPlayer.)
- (First broadcast: Sunday 08 May 2011)
Welcome to my new website designed by the talented and versatile, Heather Cairncross. Heather’s highly acclaimed album At Last was released earlier this year to wonderful reviews. Heather’s voice was my inspiration for Grace in Just Henry. You can hear clips from all fourteen songs from At Last by clicking HERE.
By an extraordinary coincidence, the composer of a one woman jazz musical hello life! originally written for Heather, is bringing out an album in November. The album New Things To Say will include four of the songs from it. Heather and I created the book, I wrote the lyrics and Alexander L’Estrange wrote the music. It was Heather’s performance in the musical which won Pick of the Fringe at the Brighton Fringe Festival. The album will be performed by Alexander and his wife Joanna Forbes L’Estrange otherwise known as the duo, L’Estranges in the Night with guest musicians.
And for those who laughed at radio 4’s hilarious series Two Pipe Problems, written by Michael Chaplin, and starring Richard Briers and Stanley Baxter as resident sleuths living in a retirement home for members of the theatrical profession, keep your ears peeled. A new episode is about to be recorded for Radio 4. It was Michael who adapted Just Henry for ITV.
That’s all the news for now.
Update: New Things To Say is available now by clicking on the CD Cover.