Monday, 12 April 2010

Dream Breakers

I grew up in a little pit village high up on the Durham fells. My experiences as a child have formed the basis of almost all my books.The local Durham people joke about Tow Law and say there is sometimes snow in June because it's so far above sea level and the air is said to be rarefied and clear.
It's famous for its football team,they used to play in black and white - perhaps they still do - as Newcastle United did and were very respected as an amateur team from way back.I decided that I would write a football book and all the memories of being a small child in Tow Law and living beside the football field surfaced.
On Saturday afternoons friends would come to the house and drink mugs of Bovril and stand in the upstairs windows to watch the match.When we got older we used to sneak in under the fence and not pay.
It was the ambition of many lads to go and play for the local big teams,Sunderland,Newcastle or Middlesbrough.Some of them made it,others came back and went down the pits or to work in local shops or at the steel foundries but in the north east football is in the blood,the lads kick a ball about in the back lanes and beg their mothers for boots for Christmas in spite of the risk of failure.
When my father went to the Sunderland matches, taking with him his foundry manager, Mr Crummy, he would drop my mother and me in town and we would go shopping.
As research for my book I began reading. I read Hunter Davies' excellent book about the year he spent with Tottenham Hotspurs,The Glory Game.I read Gazza's autobiography and Shearer, My Story So Far by Alan Shearer and all about Bobby Robson who came from just outside Durham and the tragic tale of George Best.
I was around when Best was a pair of twinkling,dancing feet and even someone who didn't appreciate football could not help but watch the way that he moved,so graceful and so adept.
I was fascinated with the lives of footballers, their triumphs and disasters.I began to wonder what it was like to be a lad growing up in the sixties with a talent and ambition and what it would be like for a girl who worked in a shop like the local co-op and wanted a little house of her own.
The two main characters in Dream Breakers have different goals. Ruari dreams of being rich and famous, Jenna's ambitions are more modest and they are inevitably bound to destroy one another's desires with this conflict.
But I like that people have dreams and that they folllow them even if they come back having failed like some of the lads who didn't make the football teams.For many of those who do it is a hard game and the fulfilment of one's dreams is never as you imagined it.

This is the big print edition of Dream Breakers published by Magna Large Print Books. The audio which also came out recently has the same lovely cover.

This is the house where I lived when I was a child.  It looked slightly different then, it was detached and had regular oblong windows.

This is the football field from the house.

And this is the black labrador who escorted me around the garden when the people who own the house were kind enough to let me take photographs. I can't resist labradors. The people who own the property are doing up the garden and have lots of plans for the place.

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