In our interview series of the Timelines an anthology of short stories for children,
I am talking to Paula Warrington.
[©2013 to P. Warrington]
Tell us how you got involved in the Timelines project.
When I came up to Manchester for the Children’s Book Festival in June 2012, I was very interested to hear Iris Feindt and Helen Sea’s account of Animal Stew, a short story collection that they had edited. I was thrilled, later, to hear that a new collection of historical short fiction was being planned – and I was eager to contribute a story.
How and why did you come to write your story?
A (distant) relative of mine compiled a family tree some years ago, and I went to this source when I was asked to write a short historical piece for my MMU MA course. I remembered a short newspaper account of a (very distant) relative, Sgt. Francis Tarratt, being caught up in a “small scale Irish rebellion” in Leicester in 1868. At the time, I did nothing with the story. When the opportunity arose to submit a story for Timelines, though, my thoughts returned to Sgt. Tarratt and his family: what if one of his six children had been caught up in the riot, too?
Tell us a little bit about your story.
The bare bones of my story are taken from the historical record: Sgt. Tarratt has a stone thrown at him during a disturbance outside the Fleur-de-Lis tavern. The rest is invention. Frank Tarratt’s son, Charlie, resents having to be on his best behavior at all times: he would like to be having fun in the seedier parts of town, but knows that his father’s Borough Police colleagues are keeping their eyes on him. Then he meets some new friends who seem to offer excitement and adventure…
Some people think it is easy to write while Ernest Hemingway said: “It is easy to write. Just sit in front of your typewriter and bleed.” Where do you stand?
I wouldn’t want to pick a fight with Ernest Hemingway… I do think that it’s easy to write – up to a point. Writing something that someone else wants to read – well, that is a different matter. I’m not talking about adhering to a formula or anything like that: I just think that there’s a real art to hooking a reader, and that this takes effort and perseverance on the part of the writer. I’m not sure that I’m there, yet!
What is it that appeals to you when writing for children?
Writing for a young audience is appealing because children still have a sense of wonder at the world, a sense that anything is possible. In writing for children I can ask ‘what if?’ and take a story in any direction; although writing can be hard work, it also allows me to play!