Somewhere to review books I'm reading without giving away any spoilers!
Welcome and many thanks to author Jackie Carreira,
who kindly answered my questions about her book, Sleeping Through War.
Read on to discover her responses, as well as more about her book and herself . . . .
Where did you get the inspiration for the book/series?
Sleeping Through War tells the story of three ‘ordinary’ women living through an ‘extra-ordinary’ time of change, all set during the month of May 1968. Wars are fought, civil rights campaigns are mounted, students are protesting, nuclear missiles being tested, general strikes, and more. These huge events hardly touch these women’s lives, for better or worse. They work, they bring up children, they struggle to make ends meet while the world goes around and the papers print the news. History is written by the winners – and almost all of it has been written by men. The stories of women like these go unremarked and unwritten so often that we forget how important they are. I grew up in London and Lisbon during the late 1960s and I met women like the ones in the book. They were the mothers, the grandmothers, the aunts, the sisters of my friends and family, and the one thing they all had in common was dignity in the face of hardship. I wrote Sleeping Through War so that we can remember them. I also wrote it so that we can learn from this time in history and recognise that nothing will change unless we do.
Do you write using pen and paper or on a computer?
I almost always start with pen and paper, and always have. I just love the feel of it on my fingers. Then I type into my computer and do a preliminary bit of editing as I type. I always keep the handwritten drafts, even after a book or play is finished. The beauty of pen and paper is that you can’t easily delete what was originally written (unless it accidentally catches fire!). It’s interesting to go back and read those first drafts. Sometimes I find a sentence that’s better than the final version.
Who is your favourite character out of your stories and why?
That’s a tough question. It’s like asking a parent who their favourite child is! if I was forced to choose a favourite character from Sleeping Through War it would probably be an old man called Charlie. He’s not one of the main characters at all, but I developed a genuine affection for him when I wrote it. I think it’s because he’s full of mischief.
If you were a character in your story, which would you like to be?
I’d probably like to be different characters at different points in the story because there are things that all of them do that I never would or could. I’d like to be Amalia and Rose when they dance. And I’d like to be naughty like Charlie when I’m old!
How and why did you choose the names for your main characters?
Usually I try to choose names that don’t belong to friends or family, just in case someone thinks I’m writing about them! In the book, Amalia is Portuguese and named after the most famous and celebrated Fado singer ever – Amalia Rodrigues. Her part of the story is set in Lisbon’s Old Quarter, where you can still find restaurants and port houses hosting Fado singers today. I chose the name Rose for the second main character because there is a softness and delicacy to her on the inside, but she has to have the toughness of thorns to survive in the world she inhabits – the East End of London in the late 1960s. The third main character, Mrs Johnson, is really a kind of ‘Everywoman’ in her situation, so I wanted a deliberately commonplace name for her. The reader never even finds out what her first name is…but I know!
Here’s more information about ‘Sleeping Through War’:
The year is 1968. The world is changing. Students are protesting, civil rights are being fought and died for, nuclear bombs are being tested, and war is raging in Vietnam. For three women, life must go on as normal. For them, as it is for most ‘ordinary’ people, just to survive is an act of courage.
Rose must keep her dignity and compassion as a St Lucian nurse in London. Amalia must keep hoping that her son can escape their seedy life in Lisbon. And Mrs Johnson in Washington DC must keep writing to her son in Vietnam. She has no-one else to talk to. Three different women in three different countries. They work, they bring up children, they struggle to make ends meet while the world goes around and the papers print the news. History is written by the winners – and almost all of it has been written by men. The stories of women like these go unremarked and unwritten so often that we forget how important they are.
Any Purchase/Pre-order Links –
Link to purchase from Waterstones: https://www.waterstones.com/book/sleeping-through-war/jackie-carreira/9781788038539
Author Bio –
Jackie Carreira is an award-winning novelist, playwright, musician, designer, and co-founder of QuirkHouse Theatre Company. A true renaissance woman, or a Jack of All Trades? The jury’s still out on that one. She grew up in Hackney, East London, but spent part of her early childhood in Lisbon’s Old Quarter. Sleeping Through War was inspired, in part, by some of the women she met when she was young. One of her favourite places to write is the coffee shops of railway stations. Her second novel, The Seventh Train (published by Matador in 2019) was born in the café at Paddington Station. Jackie now lives in Suffolk with an actor, two cats and not enough book shelves.
Social Media Links –
TWITTER – https://twitter.com/JCarreiraWriter
Many thanks to Jackie Carreira for answering my questions – I enjoyed reading her responses and hope you did, too. Also thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources for providing materials for this post and organising the tour it is part of.