Saturday 5 March 2022

Fiction echoing Reality


It has been hard watching events unfold in Ukraine. Feeling so helpless as you see families becoming separated, refugees fleeing and others determinedly defending their country against Russian invaders, sent by someone who can only be described as a dictator without any thought for others. Seeing children's faces full of fear as they run from the Russians. We feel like we are standing on the edge of something terrifying and am not even going to mention our own government's appalling behaviour towards refugees. #Notinmyname. All welcome. 

I faced the situation last week as these events were unfolding where my fiction seemed to become a reality around me. I was doing the latest round of edits for Firefly on my novel Safe which is coming out in September 2022. Part of the story involves a group of 'lost children' who are fleeing from the Russians. Watching the news and feeling so desperate certainly enabled me to add depth to the emotion of my story even though it is based during the end of the Second World War.

I was very lucky in the past Flight was picked by EmpathyLabUK as a Guided Reading book for Empathy in 2020 so I am very aware of how important reading can be for creating empathy. It can also be a way of dealing with difficult subjects such as invasion, war and all those frightening terms that are being bandied around at the moment. Reading a story that opens dialogue and discussions can make a huge difference. It allows children to consider what it might be like for those children they see on the news. What they might be feeling but also to understand that though bad things happen often good things can occur too and there might be a sense of hope to hold on to. This image by Charlie Mackesy is a perfect example and a great reminder of the importance of love:

 This is why I think it is important that we continue to write stories about the past because it helps children deal with the present and as a reminder to try and ensure that certain events of the past should never happen again. We need to create stories they can empathise and engage with. Writing the best stories we can. 

For inspiration read books by: Phil Earle, Lesley Parr, Emma Carroll, Michael Morpurgo, Tony Bradman, Miriam Halahmy, Ally Sherrick, Rowena House, Hilary McKay or maybe even my book Flight

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