“Imagine if these four walls could talk and what they would say about the things they’ve seen and heard over the years.”
This is a line from the first Time School book, Time School: We Will Remember Them.
It also sums up the premise for these stories and it was this same thought that had first triggered the idea for the books back in 2015.
Do you know the feeling I mean? When you go to a museum, particularly a stately home or castle that’s set out as it may once have been? It gives me goosebumps, to be honest, and I find myself creeping around or whispering as if I’m intruding on another world.
“The ghosts of the past are absorbed within the walls of this building….”
Another line from the same book, which sums up exactly how I feel.
It was the idea of a building standing strong through time when there had been so much going on in and around it. And I’m talking all sorts of change, such as different people coming and going, additions or removals to the building itself, local changes to the area surrounding it, social change, economic change and national, international and even world-wide events.
All have their impact, no matter how small and this building has been a witness to them all.
For my Time School series, I chose a school in a northern mill town. The towns of Hickley and nearby, Kirkshaw, are based on the area where I grew up in Kirklees, West Yorkshire. In this area, everywhere you look there are remnants of its Victorian past, when the mills churned out wool to make carpets and cloth exported across the Empire and the coal mines fuelled the mills, along with the steam trains that transported the goods.
Bearing witness to its industrial past, the beautiful sand-coloured Yorkshire stone buildings are now blackened and worn down – many of the mills lie disused and abandoned, the rail tracks having long since been given over to mother nature. Yet the people of this area are fiercely proud of their industrial heritage when it was a northern powerhouse, and it’s important to remember and acknowledge this.
In the Time School series, four friends, on returning to the past at different time-periods, get the opportunity to learn where they fit in amongst all these changes.
They find out about their histories and how events that were going on at that time affected their families. There’s a lot to be gained from understanding how your past affects your present life and how changes and events that happened in the past have shaped future lives. This is the crux of the series and at the centre of the four characters’ learning journeys.
I loved writing these stories because it allowed me to delve into the past as if I were time travelling myself.
Picking four moments in time, some you may have heard of, others you might not, and then weaving them into each character’s life was part of the process. For book one, we journey with Jess back to the end of the First World War. For the second book, we see how Nadia’s Polish relatives struggled with life in England following the end of World War Two and for books three and four, well… I don’t want to give too much away!