It is excellent (well developed characters, integrated historical research, and suspenseful), and is the story of Joey, a beautiful bay-red foal with a distinctive cross on his nose, who is sold to the army and thrust into the midst of the the first World War.
I am always interested in learning how authors develop a book idea.
The story behind the story.
Finishing War Horse in 1982, Michael Morpurgo's creative journey is an interesting one.
As a teacher, he decided to write books because he had difficulty finding works that interested his students.
Like: "if you want it done, do it yourself."
Reminds me of two other authors (J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis) who were similarly motivated.
Years prior to that, Morpurgo listened to the stories of World War I veterans in the Devon Village of Iddesleigh (Britain).
A seed was planted--he wanted to create a story that would help others understand World War I, but target it to a children's audience.
Morpurgo wrestled with idea, but no approach seemed to work.
Until he observed this:
Then one evening he was at the farm he and his wife run in Devon, where poor children come to work with animals...
He was passing through the stable yard when he saw one of the children, a troubled boy who had a bad stutter and had not uttered a word in school in two years, standing head to head with a horse.
“He started talking,” Mr. Morpurgo recalled.
“And he was talking to the horse, and his voice was flowing. It was simply unlocked. And as I listened to this his boy telling the horse everything he’d done on the farm that day, I suddenly had the idea that of course the horse didn’t understand every word, but that she knew it was important for her to stand there and be there for this child.”
That became Joey’s role in “War Horse” — observer and witness as much as protagonist.
The book was a limited success, but in 2007, the work was adapted to a play that was a hit in London.
In 2010, the production moved to New York City, and a movie-version of the project premieres this Christmas Day.
I wonder if Mr. Morpurgo ever dreamed that the famous director Steven Speilberg would be moved to tears after seeing the play version of his work, and quickly purchase the rights to put his idea on the big screen?
Not bad for a farmer, teacher, and author with an idea.
A creative idea that he would not let slip away.
And that is the story behind the story.
This is the trailer for War Horse...