Mark gave a start. ‘Welcome back,’ said Mr Cruickshank. ‘Now if you’ve finished daydreaming, perhaps you could answer my question.’
This book started off as a telemovie I wrote for the Australian Children’s Television Foundation. Their series Winners gave a rare opportunity to screenwriters – the chance to write one-off films without the need to spin them out into a TV series. We could write about anything we liked as long as the story had a young person as the main character.
I got to write two of the films, Second Childhood and The Other Facts Of Life, and they were both very important stages in my transition from a screenwriter into a writer of books. For a start they were security blankets. Turning a couple of completed and filmed screenplays into books was far less scary and intimidating for me than starting a book from scratch. I’ve often wondered if I’d ever have been game to have a crack at a book the traditional way – an idea, a blank page and lots of fingers crossed.
Second Childhood is the sort of story you write when you’re given complete freedom. I went straight for one of my favourite topics. I love writing stories about the time in a young person’s life when they’re starting to think for themselves and discovering the world in new ways.
Mark and Annie, two of the main characters in Second Childhood, are just at that stage. Everything is ahead of them, new and exciting, but challenging too. One of their biggest challenges is that they’re not satisfying the expectations of some of the adults in their lives, who keep warning them about the danger of ending up as nobodies.
I thought it would be interesting for them to discover the concept of reincarnation, and come to believe that they and some of their friends had lived before as famous and important people. (And in Annie’s case a famous and important horse.) In other words, as somebodies.
That way, I hoped, they could discover an idea that has helped me a lot in my own life. That sometimes it’s the past that helps us with our future.
Second Childhood is available in bookshops and libraries in Australia and New Zealand, and online: