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Guest Author - Michelle Magorian

You have had many popular books published such as Goodnight Mr Tom, Just Henry and Back Home just to name a few. Could you tell us about your latest book to hit the shelves, Impossible?

Set in 1959, it's about an intelligent about an intelligent 12 year old tomboy from a working class background who loves acting for its own sake and not because she wants to be a star. Far from being happy at her first term at a London stage school (which is more like a posh finishing school) she is made to feel talentless and is told it will be impossible for her to be offered any work because she had had her hair cut so short that she looks like a boy. Fortunately, being in the right place at the right time she is offered a part in an American comedy. Unfortunately, being at the wrong place at the wrong time she finds herself on the run from two empty headed kidnappers. She hides with a fellow runaway in the Theatre Royal Stratford East and becomes involved in a far more exciting physical approach to acting.

Meanwhile, unbeknown to her, more people from the criminal underworld are on her tail.

 

You are both an author and actress, what would you say is the greatest achievement in both careers?

I don't think in terms of great achievement. When you act you are part of a company and you are all working together to make your play or musical the best it can be. You want to take the audience to another place.

However, I do remember playing the deaf and blind Helen Keller in a play called The Miracle Worker. It was a great challenge and it was wonderful to work with the actress playing the teacher Anne Sullivan who was also visually impaired. There is a moment in the play when yet again her teacher spells out the word of an object into her hand. Helen smashes it in a temper. Her teacher then pours water on her hand and spells that out too and suddenly Helen makes the connection between the movements  (sign language) in her hand and the object and then she wants to know the sign language for everything! It was a fantastic role to play.

With writing, every time you complete a piece of work it's always an achievement. But then it's also an achievement to finish a page, finish that first chapter and so on.

 

What was the first book you remember reading and couldn’t put down?

I can't remember the title. It was a Famous Five book. It was leant to me by the woman who had the key to a cupboard filled withchildren’s books on a ship. I read it on my bunk in one night, returned it to her the next morning and asked for another one.

 

This is a hard one... Out of all of your books which one would you say you are most proud of which would that be and why?

There isn't one. I'm afraid I wriggle out of this question by answering 'maybe it will be my next one.'

 

Apart from reading, writing and acting do you have any other secret hobbies that you enjoy doing?

I don't have much time for hobbies but if I do, I like watching old films and going to the theatre. But it's no secret as I am usually sharing it with my younger son.

 

If you could pick any play, past or present to star in which would it be and why?

A well-written, well directed, comedy or farce with a wonderful company. I think so many audiences could do with a break from their worries and enjoy a good dose of laughter so that they can return to their problems with their shoulders down and their batteries re charged.

 

We have lots of young budding authors and I’m sure actors and actresses. What would be your top tip for them?

Learn as much as you can about human beings. If you act for a living you will be playing them and you will have to be able to see the world through their eyes. It's the same with writing. Observe them, listen to them and read about them through stories. If you are dyslexic try and get hold of CD's of stories read by actors.

If you go into the acting profession try and keep physically fit. It will give you the stamina you need for performing and it will improve your breathing which will support your voice.  If you have a hobby outside acting keep it up. My old theatre agent used to ask his clients about their interests and hobbies because if a casting director asked him if he had any actors who could play cricket he needed to know. Some actors of course will go into training for a role. The actor who plays Turner in the Mike Leigh film took lessons in art.

Have something creative you can do between acting jobs to keep that side of you going whether it be drawing, writing, gardening, repairing old furniture, playing a musical instrument, dancing singing etc.

 

You are currently collecting research for your eighth book; could you give us a little hint on what it will be about?

Nearly all my books contain the seed of another book. In two of them, two men appear briefly. I'm going to write a story about them when they were boys. I hope it will make readers both laugh and bite their fingernails. 

 

To find out more about Michelle visit  www.michellemagorian.com.