The importance of Goodnight Mister Tom is such that I have long had Michelle Magorian on my top level of ‘really good authors’. The kind you need to worship from afar, someone who is unquestionably great. So meeting her in person at last year’s launch for Just Henry wasn’t a case of your everyday garden variety of a book launch. Having found Michelle reassuringly kind and friendly and normal, I came to the conclusion that it wouldn’t be out of the question to consider interviewing her. Would it?
When by happy coincidence Michelle turned out to have an event on my home ground, I simply had to ask to meet her again. So you could say that I waited as eagerly to meet her, as I did for Just Henry after I’d read Michelle’s first five novels. I’d been so happy when I discovered her, and my assumption that readers can expect a new book, if not every year, then at least every two or three, meant that my patience wore very thin over the ten-year wait. But as you can read in this interview, it was for a good reason, and it was worth waiting for.
I just ‘happened’ to bring along my copy of the anthology War, edited by Michael Morpurgo, which contains a story by Michelle. It seems we have a lot to be grateful to Michael for, since it was he who got Michelle writing again after her long break.
In her talk at the Imperial War Museum Michelle told us how she first wrote Goodnight Mister Tom, and after that she decided to attend a writing course, which may be an unusual way round to do it. And when she has to write horrible and upsetting scenes, she goes for calming walks in between.
There is another book on the way, but read my interview with Michelle while you wait. And then any book of hers that you have inadvertently overlooked. Perhaps between us we can have a late run on A Little Love Song?
(Photo D Giles)