Focus on Tracey Lawrence winner of The Book Awards in July 2016 for ‘The Day Poppa Turned into a Star’
We like to set a backdrop for our readers, would you tell us about where you live in the world, what you can see out of your window, and what it’s like where you usually write?
I live Burbage, a small village in Leicestershire with my partner and 2 little kitties called Jimmy and Pumpkin who love nothing more than trying to write their own stories when I am on the laptop! We back onto a field where we are lucky enough to have friendly cows that pop their head over our decking looking for tasty brambles. I normally write in my Office overlooking the fields or on my decking with the cows. Regardless of where I write, there’s always a cup of tea on the go!
The idea or inspiration for ‘The Day Poppa Turned into a Star’ is personal to you, did it creep up over time or come to you all at once?
It was the toughest story that I’ve written as it’s all based on the relationship between Aidan and my Dad (Poppa). We had just lost Dad and Aidan was really struggling with his emotions and understanding why and how Dad wasn’t there anymore. In my job I work with vulnerable children and we recommend stories to support children through difficult times. There wasn’t an age appropriate story out there for Aidan so I wrote one! It was literally the event as seen from Aidan’s perspective.
Has writing this book made a difference in the conversation with you and your family?
It has. It’s bittersweet. It’s lovely having a physical copy for Aidan to read and keep as well as being a tribute to Dad but it’s also very painful to read and acknowledge that I’ve had to write it in the first place! It’s been a tool that’s allowed Aidan to ask questions that he wouldn’t have thought to have asked beforehand and we’ve been able to answer his tricky questions too.
Your story opens up a very delicate, but necessary, conversation for your readers. How does that make you feel?
I really think it’s important to open up that conversation. It’s hard to know what to say and when to say it. Bereavement can be such a taboo subject because it’s so fueled by emotion and we try so hard to protect our children that we don’t want to do the wrong thing. This book is that tool that can open up that conversation which does need to happen to support the understanding of your child. I feel honoured that I can support families in doing this.
Where do you go from here Tracey, what can we expect to follow The Day Poppa Turned into a Star?
After writing Poppa and discussions with my publisher, we have decided to write a series of books called #breakingthesilence. Each book will focus on a difficult issue that may arise in a child’s life. They will be designed to facilitate discussion on that particular topic. We will be exploring those taboo subjects, such as, anxiety, depression, domestic violence etc. The next in the series focuses on Selective Mutism. It’s called ‘Where is my voice?’ and is due out in October.
It’s been wonderful for me to have the opportunity to chat with you Tracey, congratulations on winning the Book Awards!