Progressive School, Syria, TOM discussed on Little Atoms
The Strand magazine Critics Award and the Richard and Judy Book Club Readers Choice Award her next two novels afterwards and the quality of silence which was also region in GDP with Sunday Times Bestseller List. Books have been published in over thirty languages and resumes latest novel. Three hours we're going to be talking about today and to this lots of them. It's lovely SPE- here. Can you describe? How would you describe the novel first of all? I think it's very difficult. I think it's it doesn't really fit into one. John River easily so I knew that at the moment is just been published being squeezed into the thriller genre but with caveats so yes. There's a thriller element it's over three hours. Someone is short of the beginning in a school. It goes into lockdown. What happens for three hours? There's an obvious engine driving but a hope alongside that have done different expirations of things that interest me. Are there other stories? Taking place only took about three hours element first of all is literally what it says on the cover three hours. Yeah there's there's not messing about it starts off with the shooting an and the lose a little bit in flashback and obviously the book does aggressions about about the characters but fundamentally you have set yourself this three hour time period and I wanted to talk about any restrictions of that. I think in a way it's quite liberating in Anita. Some constructors told by many different points of view. Cheveley wanted and I think in order for that cohesive you need something to keep together and I found this timeframe quite useful way of making keeping me on track. We was it could have been all over the place so it was a structure and kind of gave it a. Haitian and I was also interested in exploring time. So there's the kids and teachers in the school and they're trapped in and tom gets very slowly for them whereas writing. It felt very slow coming in the door. It feels like a minute takes forever whereas other people experiencing timeframe differently. Certainly the police. Will you have to try and get everybody out? I'm times getting really fast. And I have the image of San after hourglass with sand going through rather than the modern sense of timing whom I see the time it's wasted so as writing it had these two kind of different times going on and someone what sets me if he warier an analog watches c time differently than digital watch. If Tom going round and round to see how. Percents time repeating. And if you don't you don't get that sense so there's kind of subtle expiration hypothyroid well in a blizzard which I mean there were sort of tolerance to that but also it gives that feeling of Stolnis the feelings stillness on aloneness. You know when is a blizzard and as a young boy with a teenager? And he's on his own and he's lost his so alone because he can't see where he is. He can't find his brother so. I liked that sense of isolation alien nation that you get with the blizzard them visually how everything changes now. All the familiar landmarks the covered. Nothing is exciting posting you in the normal way and it's very disorienting and the physicality of being very cold and I think in the book I look a lot of people feeling physically. It's it's quite an important part of being very cold is one of those physical experiences that happened during the book. This is a boy in a shed. News trying to police sleeves down over his hands which are really cold and they went reach. And there's a small details like that that you feel for him the cold and the dark much adversary three as say this government might be out there somewhere so this story as you said at the beginning of it does it does flit across genres but fundamentally it is it is thrilling strictly thriller so what was obviously. We're not going to talk too much about what happens because we want to give the story away because there are surprises. It goes fundamentally as you've as you've said is basically about a school shooting a siege at schools. And it isn't I mean I think there's a very useful engine that thriller engine to drive a story and that we did not you conduct all sorts of other things is very interested in exploring the experience of two young refugees from Syria. Who are part of this. And and when we look at that back story and how they've got to this place and you know the old one sport copy of Macbeth from Aleppo with him and kind of parallels t what's happening at the school in Bath and how his father saw serious Scotland so there's all sorts of other things going on which away having this very strong engine off three our schools each means I can then explore things are also very interested in frustration. The Burke and that was one of them and I was interested in the politics as interested in world. We live in with trump. And how hate speech seems to be guessing ever worse and the repercussions of that without wanting to write electorate kind of way but showing that three story as to what might happen. We'll look the main huge cast of characters. If you are the main ones in a moment we'll come back to my bath later on. Let's talk about the SCO festival. So map out. The school for is say so. The school is on the coast in sunset and partly. I chose that very important me that it was coastal. There's kids that shelter on the beach under the cliffs and I also wanted woodland and some of that has woodland going right down to the sea so I liked the geography whereas setting it and this is a school happened over time. It was founded in the twenty S. It's a progressive school so it starts off with a small building and other buildings being added and builds kind of doctor through a large woodland. So there's a sense of people being isolated from one another and the woods. Not sure what's going on. Who's lost in their if there's another terrorist words so that that was the kind of geographical Makeup if you like of of the book says a Progressive School. Tell us about the school's ethos schools. Ethos is actually based on on school. That my kids Katie was found in the twenties. And it's this idea that there is no uniform. There's no prize-giving says no prefects. It goes from three years all three two thousand eighteen and it's very small and in fact in the book they use surnames. Bitten in the school is based on. The teachers don't have parties by their first names. Only so it's a very particular kind of school and it has a history of taking in refugees so took in refugees during the Nazis. They sheltered Jewish children from Poland. Took them into the school? They should choose from Sarajevo so assertion type. If you like and I'm sure it's replicated across the Cape. It's one that I knew knew about quite well so I was writing about the school on new and also I will get that range of ages so it goes from very young three to six wellness. So let's talk about some of the the main characters books the third person nation. But it's told from the perspective of various different characters in various different positions relating to the siege going on first of all Matthew Ma whose headmaster who is the character of the guys. He's not giving anything away. Say He gets shocked shopping at the very beginning. Yeah so tell us. Something about him is he. So here's a headmaster who I think is at the point that he's short. He has been wondering what he's done with his life a bit that he's given everything to the school he hasn't got kids of his own and he's become too loves me but the sudden. He's got his favorites. Which is young deputy head and the cheap voice from Syria? He he met when he went to Dunkirk to the refugee camp there so he's a very compassionate man we've quite quite inspiring man and he definitely is this little captain of the ship and when he's short it's really what the others learnt from. This headmaster feel like so the teenagers looking after him in the library. Very conscious that this man that's led them is now probably dying and how they deal with that and I think he's very proud of them. He's not able to speak but she has. A sense of what's going on. Address has tremendous guilt because he knows the reason for this and he realizes that it's something. He played a part in tremendous guilt over that I think affects them horribly through three the siege. And the way that you've you've written his character in his fundamentally a dying man and he's coming in and out of consciousness and imagine in the past and the present at the same time often and the descriptions of his thought processes a brilliant. I thought I really wanted this. I did your consciousness is something that you you take it for granted when you can't quite get it when you feel like you're an island c. In the CS lapping at the shore. You're losing consciousness. And he mustn't you have to keep awake. And I kind of wanted to write about brain injury in a way. That was very immediate for the reader. They're sharing that sort price with the head teacher. Get THROUGH IT. So yeah he was. I cut lots of him. Pared down version of because like to start with. I thought it would be historic. It's it was a lot and I've I've kind of trimmed and so it's kind of salient points. Now tell me more about how to develop them. I was going to ask you about this idea. Later about using you know choosing to use the multiple characters now. I didn't I didn't set out to do that. I set out not knowing story to tell and I tried various people so the headmaster who I liked it wasn't quite sure and then the mother of a teenager who's missing and then the Syrian refugee boy and a teenage girl and and drama teacher. And I loved all of them more but I couldn't pick and then I started looking what we're talking to fight intercut the different voices fee like this. You say it's not from inner voice but it's very much from just over their shoulder and realized that that was actually quite a good way for me challenging way but the way that I tell him complete story. So it's this one event for three hours which is told by various people outside of the school so parents waiting and a police officers as I call it just trying to find out what's going on in governments heads and I quite liked the idea that all these perspectives would somehow form. A complete story is complete is I could make. It gives them more rounded perspective on the characters as well so hanner. Who is the next character. I wanted to talk about the teenage girl. She took the story is told from her perspective at some point. There's also points where there's another boy this hostage we've had. Franco is basically you know we see Hannah through his eyes as well and he can pop top actually expecting Franken he's he's in love with hundred invasive platonic way he kind of does and so you see us through his eyes and brave shares and therefore how cowardly he feels and then he tries very hot not impressive it to be the kind of young man that he should be in her eyes so Hannah is really important but she looks off to the head teacher She's got a single parent. Dad and one of the things that happens is your inciter has a lot of time and it. So Dad's voice talking to her and she realizes as this progresses that they haven't really grown apart tool that even though she's no sixteen seventeen years old dad still justice improvement when it counts and I. She's got a kind of Joie de vivre despite all the horror. That's going on around her. She has this kind of Ayden. Amazing Energy and resilience and encourage in a kind of really unusual word. I think she described herself as courageous and one of the things I like. She's she's in love with this boy could Rayfield user. Who's a refugee? And she liked him but she doesn't think he loves her back and as it transpires he feels the same way in this amazing moment what she realizes and despite everything and gunman literally pushing at the door she has this your boric joy that this boy loves thirty. I want that relationship to be as real as important as any adult relationship in the well rated. I want to talk about if I were onto him ambassador. We're doing the moment. Another one characters are going away from the school Bath Olten who is another one? That you've just alluded to the fact that you you know. You wondered about telling the story from have expected so she is the mother of a Boy. Jamie out the schools who is missing throughout most of the book and also she hears his voice to do it and I still the only way that you can really for me. Get across the relationship close relationships. Modern teenage boy is tough. Shots between them inconsequential chats. And three. That you get his voice in her voice and the kind of love between them. I think is much clearer than her describing it. So they do. She remembers conversations or she almost makes the more. She knows what he'd say. Turn the situation. He teases her which I think that something. The teenage boys teach them quite a lot affectionate way so I wanted to. Although he's lost and missing I wanted him to be very media presence in the book so yeah I think that the kind of normality of their day just suddenly turning on his head is highlighted against normal conversation. This terrible thing that's happening so she's Beth's away from the school letter. Leisure Centre minehead miles away. Which is the place where all the parents of and then eventually survivors. Also the gathering. And so we get to see you know the parents interacting with each other in a terrible situation which is almost reflects you know you see the kids at school and how they behave to each other and the parents reacting to each other and there's this sort of the the sort of changing attitudes between a certain parents children suddenly. They realized that their children to save on the kind of fury that you can feel that someone can be sending a Smiley Emoji because child safe and yours isn't yet I think there's also the sense that they are very separate this terror make some of them very separate from each other and then gradually stopped talking to each other and sometimes very ugly things come so I took about show courage and in lots of the people but in in the summer of the parents that prejudice is in that. Tara means that they are talking about Houston this and saying things that they will never have said if they wanted in this particular situation. And there's a father that really regret sendings tells US liberal school that somehow the school is by being liberals brought this on themselves that people who blame the Refugee Children Muslims..