Saturday, September 8, 2018


Sleeping Through War by Jackie Carreira - Book Blitz

Sleeping Through War

It is May 1968. Students are rioting, civil rights are being fought and died for, nuclear bombs are being tested, and war is raging in Vietnam. For three ordinary women in Lisbon, London and Washington life must go on as usual. For them, just to survive is an act of courage. How much has really changed in 50 years?

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Guest Post

(Jackie Carreira)

The question I get asked the most about Sleeping Through War is 'Why 1968?' There are several reasons, but there was one trigger, and that trigger was pulled ten years ago.
            In May 2008, one of my best friends, Anne, and myself decided to treat ourselves to a long weekend in Paris. We both share a love of art and culture, so we spent three days wearing out our shoes, walking from gallery to museum to gallery with many stops for coffee and pastries (we needed the calories for all that walking - that's my excuse!).
            One morning, we found ourselves sitting outside a cafe close to the Sorbonne university. On the pavement were displays of large, black and white photographs. We didn't look at them too closely at first. Paris is well known for stuffing art into every corner of itself and we thought it was just another example. Then we took a closer look and realised what the displays represented: they were images taken in May 1968 of events that happened on the very spot where we sat exactly 40 years before.
            It was extraordinary to stare at those images and then look beyond them at the same streets on a sunny, Spring day. Behind the pictures of protesters and barricades and burnt-out cars were clean streets and trees and Parisians going about their business as if nothing had ever happened. Such violent and volatile acts had taken place right there, but without those photographs, a passer-by might never have known.
            As we walked around Paris that weekend, we saw more photographs, all set in the places where they happened. Lovers of 20th century history will know about 1968: the Vietnam war; the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy; the Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia; the height of the Civil Rights movement; the raised fists at the Mexico City Olympics; the fight for women's equality; and, of course, the student protests around the world - most famously those in Paris that led to a General Strike in France.
            It was the contrast between those pictures and the normal, every day goings-on around them that caught my imagination. Perhaps that was the intention. I don't know who had the original thought of installing the photographs around the city, but it was a brilliant idea. Life goes on, no matter what kind of massive events are taking place.
            When I got back home, I started to do a bit of research into 1968 and it was a remarkable year with too many huge events to mention here. I was a child then, sent to live in Lisbon for a couple of years with my grandparents. At the time, the people of Portugal were living under the dictatorship of Salazar, 6 years before their own revolution. The events of 1968, hardly touched the 'ordinary' people there, and I saw that contrast again.
            Amalia's part of Sleeping Through War began as a short story, inspired by several women that I met in Lisbon. It stayed in a drawer for several years, but she had become real in the writing of her and I missed her! I wondered what it would be like for other women in other parts of the world at the same time.
            First Rose was born, inspired by women I knew as a child growing up in the East of London. Then I felt I needed to include something that was such a big part of 1968 - the Vietnam war. As a pacifist myself, I wanted to know what it must be like to be the mother of a soldier in an unpopular war, and so Mrs Johnson was born. The rest is history...literally!
            Imagery is so important in literature. My favourite books are the ones I can 'see' while I'm reading. Sleeping Through War started when I saw a picture. Hopefully, its readers will see something when they read it. I wonder now if it would have been written at all if Anne and me had decided to go to Paris in June instead of May.

Photo credit: ©Jackie Carreira 2008

Forthcoming 'Meet the Author' events:-
            Jackie will be doing a talk about 'all things 1968' plus a book signing on Wednesday 26th September at 2.15pm at Ipswich County Library in Suffolk
            Plus a book signing at Waterstones in Chelmsford, Essex on Saturday 29th September from 11am-2pm.

Author Bio –
Jackie Carreira is a writer, musician, designer, co-founder of QuirkHouse Theatre Company, and award-winning playwright. She mostly grew up and went to school in Hackney, East London, but spent part of her early childhood with grandparents in Lisbon's Old Quarter. Her colourful early life has greatly influenced this novel. Jackie now lives in leafy Suffolk with her actor husband, AJ Deane, two cats and too many books.

Social Media Links –  FACEBOOK: @SleepingThroughWar

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