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Margaret Mulligan: Katy Parker and the House that Cried

Margaret Mulligan introduces Katy Parker and the House that Cried

Katy Parker and the House that Cried is my first published story for children. My inspiration came from my two favourite topics: old houses and the Second World War. I love visiting old houses and imagining the lives of the people who once lived in them and I am fascinated by how the war changed daily life for children in 1940s England: my own mum was an evacuee and used to tell me stories about her experiences, some of which ended up in my book.

I wrote my first draft by hand in a small notebook and it took me six weeks; I enjoyed every minute of the writing process and it more or less took over my whole life. I didn’t have a plan but the characters just came alive in my head and I had to write fast to keep up with what they were doing. Once the first draft was finished, I began redrafting to produce a book ready for publication. I let groups of children read the draft and listened to their feedback – I loved hearing what real-life readers thought about the plot and characters and their comments helped me shape the story better for the final draft.

I wanted to create a story which showed a young person doing something better than adults: I’ve given Katy a strong sense of natural justice and when she finds an injured German pilot we see her true nature as she shows ‘kindness to a stranger’. As well as this, I wanted to create a fast-paced, exciting mystery and I hope I have achieved this at the beginning of the story by entwining Katy’s dreams with her reality and the idea of slipping back through time.

I set the story in a small village in Cheshire, like the place where I grew up. I wanted to create that sense of a community where people work together, but I also wanted to use the story to weave a kind of magic, showing how people can overcome difficult situations in their own lives – Hillary has been disconnected from her neighbours for a long time and the events of the story give her the chance to reconnect.

I hope you enjoy following Katy and her brother, Patrick, on their magical adventure into the past.

Margaret Mulligan loves to write adventure stories for children, magically weaving the past and present. She studied English and History at Christ Church College, then after many varied jobs, from waitressing to working at the Stock Exchange, she trained as a history teacher. She now teaches A level history at a sixth-form college in Leeds. When she’s not writing or teaching, Margaret likes to visit historic houses and pursue her love of all things vintage.

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