Michael Morpurgo On His New Book, Flamingo Boy

Michael Morpurgo

Flamingo Boy is the new novel by the bestselling author of War Horse and Private Peaceful, Michael Morpurgo, recently knighted for services to literature in the New Year honours list. The novel will publish on 8th March from Harper Collins Children’s Books. It is the story of an extraordinary boy – a boy who sees the world differently, and inspired by Michael’s own grandson.

We recently caught up with Michael to find out a little bit more about Flamingo Boy!

Tell us a little about the story of Flamingo Boy.

I always begin my stories because of something that happened to me, someone I know, a place I’ve been, or a story I’ve heard.

It’s a story about a place that I visited called the Camargue in the south of France, which is a wild marsh land where I found 1000’s of flamingos and white horses and black bulls. Flamingo Boy is the story of an autistic boy living on a farm out on the marshes and his relationship to nature and in particular to flamingos. It’s a story of occupation by the Nazis during the Second World War. It is also the story of the painting of four boats by Van Gogh who painted in that wonderful landscape towards the end of his life.

How did the book come about?

I have a grandson who is autistic. I had never realised until he became part of our family what this really meant, or what it was. I had not thought of writing a book about him, partly because the subject had been so well written about before and partly because my understanding of autism was too shallow. I simply didn’t have the confidence to get started on a story. But then I visited the Camargue and it gave me the story of an autistic boy growing up in a farmhouse amongst flamingos.

Do you always write from personal experience?

I always begin my stories because of something that happened to me, someone I know, a place I’ve been, or a story I’ve heard.

Which of your characters that you have written about is most like you?

I don’t know. That’s for other people to decide who know me and my books. But there are one or two characters I should like to be in my stories. One of those is Kensuke in Kensuke’s Kingdom, who learnt to live simply, and in harmony with the world around him. He also lived to a great age, which I should like to do as well.

Do you already have an idea for your next book?

Yes. But I’m not telling you, because when ideas are just beginning in my head I like to hatch them privately. Sitting on an egg of a story is a private business. Ask any black bird.

Flamingo Boy by Michael Morpurgo is out now in hardback from HarperCollins Children's Books (£12.99).

Want to hear more from Michael Morpurgo? Check out our fantastic Authors Live event, supported by specially commissioned learning resources.

 

Michael Morpurgo

Sir Michael Morpurgo is one of Britain’s greatest living authors for children. His work spans 40 years and a career that has seen the publication of over 150 books for children, including Private Peaceful, War Horse and the Butterfly Lion, with global sales of over 35 million copies. Morpurgo is a true champion of children and young people’s culture, creativity and their right to read and enjoy stories, and is currently President of Booktrust. He was instrumental in setting up the Children’s Laureateship in 1997 and was children’s laureate from 2003 to 2005. He was awarded a knighthood for services to literature and charity in 2018.