Meet the Book Links 2022 Children’s Historical Fiction Award Short List: #2 Lorraine Marwood
There are four brilliant writers on the Book Links Children’s Historical Fiction Award Shortlist, Mirranda Burton, Lorraine Marwood, Katrina Nannestad and Wendy Orr. Each one has kindly agreed to answer a few questions about writing historical fiction for StoryLinks.
is the author of Footprints on the Moon, described by the judges as ‘cleverly weaving together several recognisable themes important to children with the historical events of the late 1960s. The Moon Landing, the Cold War, the Vietnam War and the associated civil unrest are mirrored in the relationships which wax and wane as the story unfolds. Just as man leaves a footprint on the moon, the teens consider what footprint they will leave for future generations. Sharnie experiences a ‘cold war’ with her sister and her best friend as they are growing up and becoming increasingly distant. There are many contrasts and parallels to explore and digest in this engaging story, which is presented in a pleasingly succinct, lyrical style.’
Lorraine is attending the Book Links online event on Wednesday July 27 where the winner will be announced. You can meet her and find out who the winner is by attending the online event on Wednesday 27 July details here.
Lorraine, thank you for talking to StoryLinks
1 Why do you write historical novels? I love the wealth of amazing facts, amazing events and cultural circumstances so different to our current time frame. I want to discover what motivated certain people, what they achieved no matter the roadblocks in the world around them, how they used what they had to overcome difficulties to change their lives or to cause change. And in this way see that people in the past had the same problems, difficulties, emotions, dreams that we have today. It is akin to stepping into a fantasy world but with hard cold reality for the tragedies or circumstances that happened. And this is why I write historical novels.
2. What attracted you to the particular time in Footprints on the Moon? 1969 was a turbulent time in our not-so-distant past; conscription, a war not far from Australia, the perceived conflict between establishment and a burgeoning protest movement, the beginning of the hippy era and into the arena came the long awaited and anticipated man on the moon mission, a space race. It was my growing up era! And I’ve always wanted to write a verse novel for an older audience and base it in a high school.
3. How do you ensure that your characters are ‘in period’ and not modern people transported into the past? It may explain the attraction of ‘time-slip’ novels where characters with modern attitudes can provide a commentary on past values and beliefs. What are your thoughts on this? The era around 1969 is a time I am familiar with and so I needed to get details, voices right. For example; the setting up of the tiny black and white television in a large viewing area for students to watch who didn’t have the luxury of a television to watch at home. Not many families had a television in 1969. I’m not sure I am a fan of the time-slip novel. I like my characters to be shaped by the values, attitudes and the everyday world around them. Adolescents facing high school today have similar problems encountered as those 50 years or more ago- like standing out in a crowd if you don’t fit the ‘right’ crowd, bullying, trying to get on with everyday life when grief is festering like a sore, or home life is so far from being a ‘normal’ home life and also finding resilience and making a stand for yourself.
4. What kind of research did you do for this novel? Who/what were the best sources of information? I went to the Australian war museum in Canberra- the sound of those ‘choppers’ were horrific to my ears. It was my growing up era so it was always a hankering to revisit from an adult perspective and see how different events created the atmosphere of 1969. I could be accurate on many details and talked to others who remembered the moon landing, where they were at that time. I researched on Trove, I gathered newspaper cuttings, I listened to soldiers who had been to Vietnam, saw the effects, listened to first-hand accounts like the soldiers having to pack their own gear onto the ships, or applying for jobs and getting put to the bottom of the pile if they mentioned they’d been to Vietnam. Of living through that tension of the ballot system, whose birthday ballot number would crop up, of finding surprising after all these years that someone close to me would have willing gone into the army if their number had been called up. I knew the music of the era, like Simon and Garfunkel, listening to the radio then was a teenage thing to do. The school situation often is universal in the ins and outs of friendships and those who don’t sit in the popular, trendy group. The loners. Why are they loners? Gail and Lewis stand out from their contemporaries and are shaped by the circumstances around them and they in turn help to shape Sharnie’s response to the changes all around her and the direction she eventually takes. I researched the space race to be accurate on the moon landing facts, which Lewis as a character loved to spout. The space race and the tension it caused around the world and the huge leap, let alone the first footstep of the unattainable happening- the moon conquered like a last frontier.
5. Are you working on any more historical novels? If yes, can you tell us a bit about it? Yes, I am actually about to take up a May Gibbs fellowship in Adelaide on 1st of July to work on a World War 1 verse novel and I have written a big mystery novel set on the goldfields which needs revisiting to edit. I am also in the first semester of a Post Grad study on verse novels, specifically historical verse novels and part of my creative practice is to write one or two and put new found knowledge through technique and research into practice. I am fascinated with history and especially our Australian history.
Find out more about Lorraine Marwood at https://www.lorrainemarwood.com/