HELLOOOOOO – Today I get to host a really cool blog post by the amazing Miriam Halahmy! First time ever hosting! (It’s cool.) She is a UKYA author and has recently published an anthology with other UKYA authors. Today, Miriam will be talking her short story she wrote for the anthology.
Many thanks to Hannah for inviting me to guest blog this month. It is especially exciting for me because my wonderful author group, The Edge, http://edgeauthors.blogspot.co.uk/ has just published our very first anthology. We are 8 gritty Y.A. writers who have published a lot of novels between us (and won a lot of awards).
Our anthology is called Stories from the Edge( Albury Books, July 2016) and if you like short stories and you want something a bit different – honest, tough, no punches pulled – then our collection was written just for you.
My story is called, Next Stop, The Eiffel Tower. It is set in a Paris lycée (a high school for 15-18 year olds) and takes place around a terrorist attack. The main character, Madi, a fifteen year old English girl, travels to Paris with her mum, a well know writer. Mum has been invited to speak to the students in the lycée. Madi is looking forward to seeing the Eiffel Tower and meeting some hot French boys. At first it looks like all her dreams will come true. Jean Luc, seventeen and gorgeous, invites her out with his friends and then offers to take her to the famous Tower the next morning. They agree to skip school and meet at the Metro station. But as Madi walks through the streets to meet Jean Luc there is a horrendous terrorist attack. Madi survives but she is completely unprepared for the student reaction to the attack the next day in school.
I was inspired to write this story because I have been invited to a Paris lycée on two occasions to run workshops on Peace and Tolerance. Both visits took place before the first terrorist attacks on journalists and a Jewish supermarket on January 7th 2015. Since then of course there have been two major attacks, one in Paris and one in Nice and many people have been killed. This is a very scary situation for young people in France today and their responses have been very varied and sometimes quite extreme.
The lycée I visited is part of a European wide peace programme and for the second visit there were students from Turkey, Germany and Spain, as well as the French students. So quite a diverse group of people and all the main religions were present too; Catholic, Muslim Jewish as well as secular. We used English as our language for speaking and writing.
I have been active in promoting peace for many years and believe that all divided communities can build bridges and find ways to develop dialogue and understanding. I wasn’t sure how the students would react to my work but I needn’t have worried. Their responses were amazing.
Here are some of the things they wrote :-
You said sorry but you’re not the only one. I know you suffered and I did too. But we’re still here, in this world, maybe as strangers, but as humans. So raise your hands above the waves of sorrow and burn the sadness away. Sami Hazbon, 18, from Syria now living in Paris
Light a candle for freedom/ for free men, for prosperity/ light a candle for humanity/ light a candle for no war in the world/ light a candle to light the way of peace. Mustapha, France.
I’m going to raise my voice for peace from now on. Gulsah, 14, Turkey
It is great to talk with people who lives away of France and to listen to what they thought. Deradji, 17, France.
I learn words in English, tolerance and respect. Sedraoui, 15, France
It was great to have a real author here and I thought about how I could change something in this world. Good job! Sebastian, 16, Germany
Be who you are, you are never alone! Sofie, 15, Germany.
We are better collaborating than we think. Raquel, 17, Spain
This is such a small sample of the amazing and inspiring pieces the students wrote. You can read more on my blogpost about the visit http://awfullybigblogadventure.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/im-going-to-raise-my-voice-for-peace.html
So when the first Paris attacks took place you can imagine how horrified I felt, especially as one of those attacks took place only minutes from the lycée I had visited a couple of months earlier. I could imagine the looks on the faces of the students and teachers I had worked with and how absolutely terrified they would have felt. But afterwards, when I was meeting up with some of the teachers, I heard about student reaction to the attacks and some of it was really quite surprising.
No spoilers – you will need to read the story for yourself and make up your own mind about what you would do if you were in Madi’s shoes.
If you read the story and have any questions, you can contact me over my website http://www.miriamhalahmy.com/ I always reply.
We live in difficult times.
I wish PEACE/SHALOM/SALAAM to everyone.
I write books and short stories for children, teens and adults. I also write poetry, articles and contribute to blogs. I have been writing all my life, since I could hold a pen, and I love to write in cafes. When I was young my dream was to leave Earth’s gravity.I haven’t quite managed that yet. I was a teacher for 25 years and taught all ages. I loved the buzz of teaching and the wonderful students I worked with.
Now I speak in schools about my books, in the UK and abroad. But the students are still just as individual and fascinating whatever language we are using.