I have been interested in astronomy since I was four years old. I recall the exact time. My mother and I were Christmas shopping in Woolworths on the Soho Road in Handsworth, Birmingham. I pointed to a very big book - an encyclopaedia - that I wanted, but mum thought I wanted the rather thinner book on astronomy I was leaning on. Needless to say I wasn’t happy on Christmas Day, but a few days later I read it, and was hooked forever. It was the time of Mercury, Gemini and Apollo.
Why this book?
I wanted to find a new way to write a book about Apollo 11 for the 50th anniversary, to produce a narrative that was closer to the story and more intimate with the protagonists. I treated it almost like a screenplay editing what people said to produce pace and tension. I’m glad people think it’s different and like it. What more can a writer ask?
My next book is finished but I can’t say what it is but it’s not about space. I’m working on a few more ideas at the moment. I decided that I have done my solar system books (Moon, Sun, Earth books) and I will look farther afield. Once again I am looking for a new approach.
What is exciting you at the moment?
Bookwise I am thoroughly enjoying “The Map of Knowledge,” by Violet Moller, “The Tangled Tree,” by David Quammen, and “The Making of Poetry,” by Adam Nicholson. I read all the new science books that come out but I can’t honestly say many of them excite me.