I have a new book coming out in July. It’s called THE DEAD HOUSE and in a way I owe something to Kate Atkinson for an aspect of this book.
Let me explain. Years ago I used to teach Creative Writing to adults and one of my sessions was about Writing for Children (naturally). In this session I tried to show the students the difference between writing FOR children and writing ABOUT children. I used an extract from Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson. It is where the main character (a child) has to stay with her cousins for a while. Her cousins (twins) and their bedroom are described in minute detail and in a very scary way. There is a disturbing scene where the girl has to go up to bed on her own and is afraid that the wolves who live on the stairs will tear out her teddy bear’s throat. This is clearly writing ABOUT children and not for children.
There is a doll’s house in the bedroom and this is a source of fascination for the little girl. It was also a source of interest for many of my students. I asked them to imagine a story FOR children which centred on a doll’s house and many of them came up with terrific ideas.
I loved reading about this doll’s house in Kate Atkinson’s book. I always wanted to write a story about it but because my books are dark thrillers for teenagers I couldn’t see where I could fit it in.
THE DEAD HOUSE is about a girl called Lauren who revisits the house of her childhood. When she was seven a terrible thing happened there and ten years later she goes back. In her parent’s bedroom was an antique doll’s house. This doll’s house, where time has stood still, is just like Lauren’s old house. Time stood for her in it when she was seven years old.
As she says at the end of chapter one:
………her parent’s old bedroom. It was a room she knew well.
Ten years ago she had died and come back to life in that room.
My thanks to Kate Atkinson. I finally got to use that doll’s house.