In this blog post series, we’ll feature contributing authors from our new anthology, Alcott’s Imaginary Heroes: The Little Women Legacy. Today we’ll catch up with Caitlin Horne, who dreams of doing “something very splendid” across the pond in the U.K.
Contributor Caitlin Horne reads Little Women in her picturesque English town.
What is your favorite scene from Little Women?
My favourite Little Women scene, probably because of how much I wish it would happen to me whenever I’m out somewhere I don’t want to be, is the iconic party scene in which Jo and Laurie first become friends and dance a polka out in the hallway. Much like Jo, parties are not my natural habitat by any means; whenever I’m stuck at some sort of dance that I’m not enjoying, part of me always dreams of hiding away from the music and accidentally discovering a best friend along the way. There’s also, of course, the huge relatability of trashing your clothes and ruining your feet in the process of trying to appear dressed up!
Who are some of your other “imaginary heroes” from literature?
The first of my fictional heroes who always springs to mind on par with the March sisters is the character Lady Eowyn from The Lord of the Rings. As a little girl who dreamed of saving the day but also wanted to look like a princess, Lady Eowyn was definitely someone I could imagine myself being every time I watched the movies. When I read the novels at an older age, though I no longer wanted to be Eowyn, I loved and respected her even more, and for the first time could fully appreciate the importance of what she represents in the story. The love I have for her now that I understand her flaws is far deeper than my love for her when I thought she was all-powerful.
A slightly more obscure hero who became an inspiration for me growing up is Hiccup, the lead character in Cressida Cowell’s children’s series How to Train Your Dragon. Hiccup’s mad adventures of Vikings and dragons are like old familiar friends to me after their pivotal role in inspiring me during my preteen years, and I still love going back and rereading them.
Of course, I can’t forget Harry, Ron, Hermione, and all the other wizards, witches, and muggles of the Harry Potter universe, whose impact on the world of literature and the imaginations of a generation needs no explanation!
Amy goes to Europe, Jo goes to New York . . . where did your pivotal “coming of age” moment take place?
This past summer I spent my 17th birthday painting blackboards in a nursery school in Rwanda, a tiny but incredibly beautiful corner of Africa. Time will tell if that was a “pivotal” moment for me or not, but the trip—which lasted two weeks, and saw me meeting and connecting with amazing people of all ages as I visited schools, markets and memorials—was one of those magical experiences that I could tell from the start would be important to me in the future. It definitely made me understand more than ever the importance of travel for changing your way of thinking, as happens to the characters in Good Wives.
Jo has both a writing space and a “scribbling suit” in the book. What does your writing space look like? What’s your favorite scribbling suit?
How I wish I had a proper dedicated writing space! With all my time taken up preparing uni applications and studying for my A Levels—whether that be homework itself or just the time it takes to travel to my sixth form college and back every day—it feels like I’m always just snatching spare moments for writing, and as such a proper writing space like Jo’s seems like a distant dream. Necessity, however, has forged for me a kind of mobile writing space in the most unlikely place I would have imagined: I think I can genuinely say that the majority of my writing in the past year has taken place on public buses as I make my way to college each day. Each of my two daily bus journeys can last anywhere between 25 minutes to an hour and a half depending on the traffic, so I often find myself typing away into my phone’s notes app whenever inspiration (or simply boredom) strikes—as it very often does on a bus. Public buses are, without fail, filled with fascinating people.
I have also been lucky to find a home in my college’s lunchtime creative writing group. It’s not often easy to find a peaceful moment to write in, but once a week I sit in a quiet classroom with around ten other students, and the only noise is that of our pens on paper. Those are magical moments.
Caitlin Horne lives in the English countryside, where, like her hero Jo March, she spends most of her time crying over novels, scribbling in notebooks, cutting off her hair for charity, and dreaming of doing “something very splendid.” Her copy of Little Women—now bound together with copious amounts of tape—remains one of her most precious possessions, along with the lessons she learned from it.
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