Q&A

 
 
Me, beside a 'gritty' wall.

Me, beside a 'gritty' wall.

 
Draft Mountain

Draft Mountain

 
I understand every fourth word. Coffee helps.

I understand every fourth word. Coffee helps.

 

Hi there! I'm Gemma.

I grew up in an ex mining town in the East Midlands and moved to the bright lights of the 'Smoke, to write adverts for the likes of the BBC and Nintendo.  

You can usually find me staring out a of window, imagining I'm somewhere else. 

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Writing a book was a dream ever since I wrote my first story in primary school (an epic, three sentence horror called ‘The Green Hand’), but writing something the size of a novel always seemed impossible.

I wrote short stories, poems, angsty song lyrics for my imaginary girl band (as you do), but I just didn’t have the patience to turn them into proper stories.

I also think I hadn’t had the right idea yet. I was desperate to write a fantasy story, but I couldn’t ever think of anything original. 

 

How long did it take to get Moondust published?

Moondust took seven years to write. Seven whole, human years!

It was a hobby at first, something I did on the odd weekend or evening, then I realised I had around 100,000 words (only 10,000 of them were any good) and decided to do something with it.  

That's when the real work started...

By the time the manuscript got to the brilliant team at Chicken House it was already in it’s fourth draft. Two from me, two I’d worked on with my agent. It would go through another four before it reached the version that’s now on the shelves (OK, OK, so that’s more like eight drafts, but I don’t really count my first two because they were more like total rewrites).

 

Where did the inspiration for Moondust come from?

I’ve always been fascinated by space and the future, so when the fantasy genre didn’t work for me, I turned to the world of sci-fi for inspiration.

There wasn’t one ‘eureka’ moment, but I remember wanting to write something set on the moon, and I’d had Aggie’s character bouncing around in my head for years. Our dependance on energy and the way we produce it has always been of interest to me, and I grew up in a ex-mining town in the East Midlands, so mining and that culture was a big part of my life.

I also love rocks and glittery stuff so, you know… Lumite.

 

What kind of research did you do to create the world of Moondust?

The setting of Moondust is super fantastical, but there are a lot of real scientific theories in there too. For example, private companies will start to mine the moon in a few years time, and we’ve recently discovered a mineral on Earth called KBNNO (not quite as catchy, or beautiful, as Lumite), that can produce useable electricity.

To some level, I researched all the science and tech in the book, from the (very far fetched) theory behind CELESTE's Ethers, to the tight, geometric look of the overalls.

I love tying my brain in knots by reading the New Scientist and Science Focus mags, and watch anything that is even loosely associated to Prof Brian Cox. I also had a proper, real-life physicist at Imperial College answer all my stupid questions like “what would happen if you kissed someone in space?” “What does moon dust taste like?” etc.

 

When you're not writing, what are you reading?

I’m a massive fantasy nut. I love huge, doorstop-sized books that I can get lost in for weeks at a time; anything by Robin Hobb, Neil Gaiman and Phillip Pullman. I also love Margaret Atwood-esque dystopias, and anything that skews the future.

My recent favourite reads are Scythe by Neal Shusterman and The Power by Naomi Alderman.