Christopher Edge

When Maisie wakes up to an empty house on her tenth birthday, she is puzzled, but when she opens the front door she is also very frightened. Gradually, she tries to make sense of what is happening, what it is she needs to remember, and how she can put things right.

CHRISTOPHER EDGE - whose other books include The Many Worlds of Albie Bright and The Jamie Drake Equation - tells us about some of the ideas he explores in THE INFINITE LIVES OF MAISIE DAY:

Q: Many of your books explore big questions about science and the universe. Why do you like writing about these subjects?

A: When I'm writing it's all about the ideas in the story and the characters, rather than the science. However, with The Many Worlds of Albie Bright, I had been reading Paul Parson's book, How to Destroy the Universe: And 34 other really interesting uses of physics.

At the same time, I was exploring the world of Albie, who wants to find his mum. Science gives you a way into subjects. It attempts to deal with big questions of life and going down that path with Albie, it gave me lots of different sparks to follow.

The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day is possibly the most science-based of the books I have done. I think both science and fiction books try to explain and help us understand the world so it seems logical to take these ideas and use them to inspire stories.

Q: What inspired you to write The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day?

A: I had an image of a girl opening a door and looking out into darkness, so this was how the book started. Humans have always been interested in the idea of what is real. In this book, Maisie wakes up in her own house but there is infinite darkness outside. So my question is, what do we really know about reality as against what we want to see?

Television presenter Brian Cox says that if you think about the history of the universe in its totality, we are just a blink of an eye - but in that blink of an eye, I think what gives our lives meaning is our relationships with other people. This moment we have is precious and we need to embrace it, and hopefully this story will remind people of the importance of love in its fullest sense. That's what drives my writing.

Q: Why do you give your characters such big challenges in your stories, including loss and even death?

A: The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day starts with big questions of life and science which help to explore the human elements of grief and loss in our own lives.

I had moments in my childhood when life wasn't perfect and sometimes in my stories it's about those times in one's life as a child when you go through moments of change or loss or moments when what you think is happiness turns out not to be so, so we question reality and science helps to explore that. I am trying to answer the same questions as the scientist but coming at it from a different angle.

Q: In one of your possible parallel lives, would you be a scientist?

A: Maybe there's a parallel universe where I would have been interested in exploring those questions but I'm not sure if I have the mind to do it. I am more of a magpie, taking these ideas and using them to write. I'm fascinated in the idea of taking two years to explore a concept but I'm not sure that my grade D in maths would be up to it.

Q: Do you think children should learn more about these big ideas about science at school?

A: I do remember my science lessons at school being boring with dull experiments that never worked and yet the really big ideas about science excite children. I go into schools and speak to children about quantum physics and they grab those ideas and run with them, while adults might struggle with them. If I could I would turn the curriculum on its head and start teaching children about quantum physics and the Big Bang and how time came into existence, and let them do the boring stuff at university.

Q: Why did you decide your main character would be a girl rather than a boy in this book?

A: When I wrote The Many Worlds of Albie Bright and The Jamie Drake Equation, the characters came into my mind as boys while Maisie came along as a girl. I like the idea of the children I meet at school discovering this girl who is fizzing with ideas about space and time and the universe. My stories are for everyone but it's nice for those girls to see themselves reflected in this particular glass; they are the next generation of scientist and astronauts.

We are living in an age where science and when experts are looked down on and yet we are facing all sorts of problems like global warming and lots of other challenges. The world we are leaving for the next generation isn't necessarily the world I want my children growing up in.

We need scientists and people with open minds and love and hope in their hearts. After seeing the teenagers in the US marching for gun control, I almost want my generation to say, get off the stage now, leave it to the next generation.
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