Humour and 'a certain sense of sadness' in actor's short story collection
- Credit: Christopher Owen
A local author and actor has published a collection of short stories, spanning the globe, with an underlying theme of loss.
Christopher Owen worked as an actor for 55 years, appearing on television in shows including House of Cards and Sharpe's Honour.
His new collection - America Awaits Us, My Lovely and other stories - is set in London, the West Midlands, France and the US, and was partly inspired by his own history.
“There’s quite a bit of my family in there,” he said. But he stressed: “They’re written fictitiously”.
The title story is loosely based on the life of his maternal grandparents, who travelled to the US to work.
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“My grandfather told my grandmother to come over, and on the first day she arrived in Manhattan he married her, with two witnesses he found in the street,” he said.
But after his grandfather met another woman, his grandmother was forced to return to the UK with four children in tow. One of them was CHristopher's mother.
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“My grandmother and four children, tiny children, were sent back to Birmingham. And they were destitute. My mother, bless her heart, was in a children’s home for nine years…and it got to her”.
Loss is an underlying theme throughout the book.
“There’s a sort of basic loss," he said.
“Which does sound a bit dreary, but there is some humour in it, I might say.”
Christopher, who has lived near Alexandra Palace for 25 years, often specialised in comedy as an actor.
“So this is something quite different,” he said.
Sense of place was also important for Owen when writing his short stories.
One of his favourites - The Legs and the Dark Suit - is set in London.
“Two young people meet in the City, in an office block near St Paul’s, and there’s a sort of unrequired romance.”
Another, Spring Awakening, is set in France at the end of the Second World War.
“They’re in Paris, all these people, and they feel a certain sense of freedom," he said.
“The celebrations are going on but you know there’s a certain sense of sadness underneath.”