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Children's author unites generations with his war stories

October 24th, 2014
11:39 AM ET

By Madalena Araujo, CNN

It is rather unusual for a children’s author to fill his books with war and violence, but for beloved writer Michael Morpurgo, conflict became the common thread in his creations.

“I care about war because I'm a war child. I was born in '43 and grew up with the Second World War, the damage that had wrought on people and societies and families and buildings… and I've played in bomb sites. I grew up with all that world of war around me,” he told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview that aired Thursday.

His best-selling novel-turned-blockbuster and stage play War Horse, which is about the First World War, only became a phenomenon 25 years after the book was written in 1982.

"The National Theatre picked it up really because Tom Morris discovered my book. In fact, his mother said one day, 'Tom, you should read this book. It’s quite good'. And luckily he listened to his mother, made the play,” Morpurgo said.

The First World War is also the subject of his latest novel, Listen to the Moon, a powerful journey based on the sinking of the American civilian liner the Lusitania.

“There were 1,200 people drowned on the Lusitania in May 1915 after Germany boat put a torpedo in her side. She sank in 18 minutes; the Titanic took three hours. The loss of life was really terrible.”

The award-winning English writer explained that while he does just write for himself, his ultimate goal “is to try to tell stories that have some kind of universality, that they touch the lives of older people and parents and children at the same time.”

All dressed in red for a children’s event, Morpurgo thinks it’s important not to forget the child inside all of us.

“We grow a thicker skin and sometimes more wrinkled skin and we change shape. But nonetheless, a child is there inside us all. And we'd better not lose it,” he said, showing off his red outfit and his “amazing yellow socks.”

Over five million people have now seen War Horse on stage worldwide. “It's been on in Germany for a year, in Berlin and London at the same time, about this war that happened 100 years ago. And to me, that is the most moving thing. If there's any justification for writing any of my stories, it's that, that we are listening to the story about reconciliation and these two capitals, where these people came together and did this appalling thing.”

Click above to watch the full interview.


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