JUST IMAGINE: Your recent novels have tackled some fairly big scientific ideas. Have you always had an interest in science & what made you want to include these theories as a basis for your stories?
CHRISTOPHER EDGE: Can I tell you a secret? I only got a grade D in my GCSE Physics exam! My only real memories of science at school was rolling a marble down a slope or adding spoonfuls of salt to water to see what temperature it would boil at. However watching amazing television series such as Human Universe from Professor Brian Cox and Cosmos from the late, great Carl Sagan have helped to unlock the wonders of science for me. For me, science and stories both share a common goal: to help us to make sense of the world, with all its wonder and possibilities. The big ideas of science that I use in my books, whether these are questions of quantum physics, the possibilities of alien life or explorations of the nature of reality, help me to explore very human stories. And when I go into schools, I see for myself the appetite children have to explore these questions and the excitement that science can generate when used in the context of a novel. It’s a real gift for storytellers.
JI: You have previously worked as a teacher & in publishing; what made you take the leap into writing your own books for children?
CE: Some of my most memorable moments in the classroom came from sharing stories with the classes that I taught. And then when I made the move into publishing, one of my roles was to read lots of contemporary children’s fiction to find novels that would work in a classroom context and then acquire the educational rights for these books. I remember reading Millions by Frank Cottrell Boyce before it was published and being astounded by the sheer brilliance of the story. This was the moment that reconnected me with my childhood dream of being an author and made me realize that children’s fiction is a form that allows you such freedom as a writer. As a children’s author you have a fearless audience who will go with you anywhere as long as you can deliver on giving them a great story.
JI: Your latest novel The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day is out this week; do you enjoy the promotion part of being an author?
CE: I do. Like most writers I’ve got a drawerful of rejection letters, so know what a huge privilege it is to be published. There are so many great books for children brought out every year, so to have the chance to talk about mine is an honour. I especially love festival events where I get the chance to meet readers first hand and share their excitement about stories that I’ve written in my shed at the bottom of the garden. And from live-action demonstrations of Schrödinger’s cat to building the biggest ever Möbius strip, I have a lot of fun doing these events too!
JI: You have also become known for having soundtracks to each of your books, that have inspired you whilst writing; is there also one for Maisie Day & can you tell us a few of the tracks?
CE: There are actually two soundtracks for The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day! In addition to the author soundtrack I’ve created for the book, BBC 6Music DJ Chris Hawkins has also compiled his own soundtrack of songs the story made him think of when he read the book. In terms of song choices, I can’t reveal all these yet, but there are a couple of tracks by The Cure on both soundtracks as the band are actually name-checked in passing in the story itself. I really love the soundtrack choices that Chris Hawkins has made – I knew from his 6Music show that he has brilliant and eclectic musical taste, but it’s been fascinating to see this reflected through the prism of The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day and be introduced to tracks by bands like dEUS and Dutch Uncles that I hadn’t heard before. I especially love the song he has chosen to close the soundtrack – ‘One Day Like This’ by Elbow – as this really evokes for me the emotions that I hope readers take away from the story.
In terms of my own choices I could’ve created an infinite playlist for the book, but stuck to eighteen songs that for me soundtrack key moments in the story. You’ll find tracks by The Sugarcubes, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Massive Attack, Underworld and The XX to name a few and one of my favourite scenes is book is soundtracked by The Chemical Brothers’ track ‘The Private Psychedelic Reel’. Both soundtracks will be available to listen to as Spotify playlists and I’ll be posting up a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of the songs on my website for any readers who want to listen along as they read The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day!
JI: And finally, are you working on any projects at the moment? Any sneak previews?!
CE: I’m currently writing a new book which will be published in Spring 2019, but I’m reluctant to say too much about this at the moment in case I jinx the writing process! I’ll let you know more as soon as I get to the end!
You can listen to the specially chosen playlist for The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day via Chris’s website: https://www.christopheredge.co.uk/resources