Retired teacher Sue Wilkinson turns award-winning play into first book

PROUDLY holding the first copy of her book, Bombs and Bunting, Sue Wilkinson can’t quite believe she’s turned her original one-act play into a children’s novel – then publish it herself.

Now the retired primary school teacher can now add author and artist to her impressive list of accomplishments as she also illustrated the front and back cover and well as sketches throughout.

“I’m absolutely thrilled with it, and I’ve already got ideas for my second attempt. The thought of writing a book always seemed so daunting but I’m really happy with it,” she said.

With a lifelong passion for words and dialogue, Sue taught at Whitehouse Primary in Stockton for 20 years and her talent was often used to dream up plays for school performances.

Since leaving the classroom five years ago she has been busy writing for local drama groups as well as for her husband Terry’s ‘Team Players Theatre Company’ which tours schools with pantomimes and educational performances.

AUTHOR: The first copy of 'Bombs and Bunting' by Sue Wilkinson.

AUTHOR: The first copy of ‘Bombs and Bunting’ by Sue Wilkinson.

It was a desire to compose a piece of work to mark the VE Day commemorations last year for the Valley Players Theatre Company of Saltburn youth section which led Sue to writing a one-act play, ‘Spoils of War’.

It was first performed in March at Saltburn Drama Festival scooping Best Youth Production and Best Individual Youth Comedy.

ACHIEVEMENT: Sue Wilkinson with her children's novel, Bombs and Bunting.

ACHIEVEMENT: Sue Wilkinson with her children’s novel, Bombs and Bunting.

Set on a Second World War bomb site in urban Yorkshire, it tackles hard-hitting issues with  humour including shell shock, being evacuated and the fear of an overbearing father returning home.

“The festival adjudicator said he’d love to know what happened next and he’d love to know about the back stories of the children.

“So I thought perhaps I should write a short story as I’ve only ever written scripts before,” explained Sue from Marske, east Cleveland, where she lives with Terry who dresses up as an eccentric tea lady as one half of the street theatre act, Jean and Morag.

“I decided I would write a short story for each of the children and then link them together. After six months I couldn’t believe it but I’d written 41,000 words.”

Sue Wilkinson

Through Amazon she has self-published her 200 page book and dedicated it to the five young actors who brought her characters to life on stage and inspired this new chapter in her retirement.

Despite the Second World War happening more than 70 years ago, the children she used to teach were enthralled by children’s fiction inspired by wartime such as Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian and The Machine Gunners by Robert Westall, often more so than modern day fiction.”

Her book, aimed at 10 to 12-year-olds has just been entered into the Chicken House annual children’s fiction competition and she plans to spend the next few weeks looking at how to sell it while mulling over fresh story ideas.

“I’m not sure yet if it’s going to be a sequel or something new but I do really like this group of characters and I enjoy the historical research,” she added. “I now know that I can do it I’m definitely going to write another one, I just wish I hadn’t waited so long!”


To order ‘Bombs and Bunting’ by Sue Wilkinson email or tweet her @susieawilkinson