Monday 1 October 2018

Yesterday Uncovered - 1960's with Jackie Carreira & Sleeping Through War

This month on Yesterday Uncovered we slip back to the 1960s

Sitting, in the shade, on a recliner at the side of my pool is Jackie Carreira, the author of Sleeping Through War, so please help yourself to a glass of chilled bubbly, a plate of tapas, then make yourself comfortable and enjoy slipping back to the 1960s.

Tell us a little about yourself

I was born in England to Portuguese parents and grew up mostly in Hackney in the East End of London. For a couple of years as a child, I was sent with my brother to live with grandparents in Lisbon, and these two locations are the settings for a large part of the book. Today I manage to earn a living as a playwright, feature writer and crochet designer (yes, crochet!) but before that I spent 12 years travelling the world as a musician with a variety of indie, dance and rock bands - that's a whole other story! In 2014, myself and AJ Deane (an actor, singer and poet who loves books and cats as much as I do) co-founded QuirkHouse Theatre Company in Suffolk. Reader, I married him!

What inspired you to write about the 1960s?

I was born in the 1960s, and it's very sobering to discover that my birth decade is now taught in schools as history (I can't believe I'm that old!). I'm at a point in my life where I'm starting to reflect backwards and, with the advantage of time and experience, it's fascinating to look at my childhood from an adult's perspective and from a greater context. When we are children, we just accept whatever our life and surroundings are as 'normal' and assume that others are the same. Most of the photographs I have of myself as a child are black and white, but I now see that in many ways my childhood was far more colourful and interesting than I thought it was at the time - just like the 1960s themselves. I'm sure there's another novel in me that will be set in that decade. There's so much to say about it. I hope I get to write it one day.

Tell us little about the story and its plot without giving too much away

The year is 1968: students and workers are striking across the globe, civil rights are being fought and died for, nuclear bombs are being tested, there are major conflicts on every continent, and war is raging in Vietnam. Against this volatile background, we meet three 'ordinary' women. Rose must keep her dignity and compassion as a West Indian nurse in East 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, three different countries, but all are connected by their dignity, courage and compassion.  

Is any part of the story based on facts / real events?

Not exactly the story, but the backdrop to the story. Interspersed throughout the narrative are 'news' reports. These are real things that happened on those days but I've rewritten them in a journalistic style. When you look at them altogether, 1968 really was an extraordinary year.

Are any of the characters based on someone real or are they pure fiction?

All of the characters are composites, based on real women that I met during my childhood, both in London and Lisbon. They were the mothers of my friends; dinner ladies; baby sitters; cleaners; neighbours; women who worked in cafes. Their stories are fiction but inspired by all of those women and the kind of struggles they had to face every day. I tend to write character-driven stories and enjoy finding the extraordinary in the so-called 'ordinary.' To me, women like these are courageous and inspiring and I didn't want their voices to be left out of our history.

If research was necessary what did this involve?

Research is one of my favourite things, which is lucky because I had to do lots of it! Sleeping Through War is set during just 3 weeks in May 1968, but I spent time researching the whole year. One of the most fascinating things was hunting through the archives of national and international newspapers to pinpoint specific events to the dates where they appear in the novel. Much internet searching was done, as well as many hours sitting in the British Library - one of my favourite places in the whole world. 1968 was an extraordinary year, and arguably one of the most tumultuous of the whole 20th century, so it was a question of deciding what to leave out rather than what to include. I was spoilt for material.

Now, where's that chilled bubbly...?

Sleeping Through War is published by Matador and available via all major retailers.
In paperback - ISBN: 9781788038539
ebook - ISBN: 9781788034388


Facebook: @SleepingThroughWar
Photo credits:
Jackie as a child in Hackney (late 1960s) - © J. Carreira

Jackie today - © Andy Abbott

Thank you for stopping by and meeting Jackie.

Next Tuesday Dizzy Greenfield talks about 

You can also read...

A Snap Shot from the 1960's

Please come back again soon and I hope the sun is shinning on your face and in your heart.


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