Yesterday at noon several bloggers visited our offices to meet and chat with Karen Thompson Walker, author of The Age of Miracles.
Let me start off by saying that if you haven’t read this book yet, do yourself a favour and pick it up! It will pull you in from the first sentence and as one blogger noted, you’ll be so protective over your copy that you won’t want to leave it lying around at any summer BBQs.
As we enjoyed our lunch, Karen talked about an earthquake that happened in Indonesia a few years ago and that as a result of that disaster; the earth’s rotation had been adjusted very slightly, shortening our days by milliseconds. This gave Karen the seed from which to grow her beautiful novel.
Having grown up in California, Karen drew on experiences from her childhood and young adulthood for Julia, the young protagonist. All the bloggers noted that Karen did an excellent job at describing the intensity of early teen emotions and showing how quickly social relationships can break down but can also be created. These experiences become epic, as another blogger pointed out, as a result of Karen’s writing and also as a result of the plot. Karen sometimes writes, “that was the last time we…,” this creates a mysterious and foreboding air because it refers to the last time Julia and her friends played in the sun, or the last time they were allowed to go out on their own. All these childhood experiences that every person goes through are changed and altered in a way that is not normal as a result of the earth’s slowing, yet life continues as if everything is normal in some strange way.
Throughout our discussion, there were constant references made to hope. Everyone who commented, noted that even with the apocalyptic backdrop, there is something very hopeful in the narrative. Perhaps this is because a mature voice is reflecting back on her childhood and the year the world changed; and we know that in one way or another, the protagonist is still alive. Karen also talked about how even though there are reasons to despair; there is a buoyancy she tried to cultivate in her writing and the story. We all agreed that she was very successful in her efforts.
Lastly, and most resoundingly for me, one blogger mentioned that this is a novel that stays with you. I couldn’t agree more. This is the type of book you’ll be talking about for years to come. It’s a book that really makes you think, “what if…?”
And for all you bookworms out there, Karen gave us her favourite speculative fiction novels. Here’s her top three: Blindness by Jose Saramago, The Road by Cormac McCarthy and Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.
For more photos from the event, take a look at our Facebook album here.