james-nashJames Nash talks about how his contribution to the book Four Fathers helped him to ‘make sense’ of things.

Q: Could you tell us a little bit about your two stories in Four Fathers?

A: I think I write to ‘make sense’ of things. ‘Exile’ is trying to come to some conclusions about my father, who was a marvelously contradictory person. And ‘In loco parentis’ tries to look coolly at the challenges facing a very young teacher in a classroom over thirty years ago, and measure his success.

Q: How do you think these stories would have come out if you had written them thirty years ago?

A: I couldn’t have written these stories thirty or so years ago. I was still too angry with my father in my twenties, and sometimes, rather worryingly, angry just like my father. Surviving in the classroom was too scary, sometimes too much like not surviving to write about. I was frightened and frightening in equal measure. Now I can look back and marvel at it all.

Q: There is perhaps a gap of nearly ten years from your first story in the book to the second, from school boy to school teacher. Has the process of writing the stories helped you to look back and understand a paternal role in that part of your life, or is this something that has always been apparent to you?

A: I never knew why I was able to work with damaged kids so effectively until I started to examine my childhood. Perhaps what was most surprising was to discover how much of my behaviour I owed to my father, the discipline as well as the understanding he brought to certain situations. Other elements in my early experiences contributed too. But I am amazed when looking back now to see how empathetic and tough-minded I could be with young people. And with younger friends. It came from him.

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