'I'm well-rooted in Scotland but for me it's more instinctive to write about Belfast'
Joan Lingard was born in
Lingard’s first school was Strandtown Primary, or
Upper Newtownards Road
Her mother's death from cancer had a traumatic effect on the 16-year-old, leading to her rejection of Christian Science beliefs at the age of 18.
Lingard cultivated a love for reading during her schooldays, and read books such as Just William and the ‘
Here she worked in a public library before deciding to train as a teacher at Moray House. A teaching post in a mid-Lothian primary school followed, and by now she had settled into life in
‘I’m well-rooted in
A sense of place is strong in her writing, apparent in the quintet of Kevin and Sadie stories and the wartime story of Fräulein Berg, which ca[ture a city with its own cultural ethos and instantly recognisable identity.
Lingard is probably best known for the Kevin and Sadie stories, dealing with the fortunes of Protestant Sadie Jackson and Roman Catholic Kevin McCoy and their developing relationship in the hostile and suspicious back streets of
Her first novel The Twelfth Day of July appeared in 1970, just at the time when
Her second novel Across the Barricades moves closer to the Romeo and Juliet theme as the main protagonists Kevin McCoy and Sadie Jackson re-establish their old bantering relationship. Across the Barricades has become the best selling of all her novels.
The core themes of friendship and trust, betrayal and treachery, appeal to young readers, and although the love element risks being hackneyed the unusual setting gives it freshness and an element of surprise that carries the reader along.
The File on Fräulein Berg strikes a different note from the Kevin and Sadie novels, set as it is in the
Other novels were to follow, for both children and adults, and Lingard today has a lengthy bibliography to her credit.
Lingard received the prestigious West German award ‘Buxtehuder Bulle’ in 1986 for Across The Barricades.
Tug Of War has also enjoyed great success and was short-listed for the 1989 Carnegie Medal, the 1989 Federation of Children’s Book Group Award, runner up in the 1990 Lancashire Children’s Book Club of the Year and short listed for the 1989 Sheffield Book Award.