Bestselling author and Queen of Historical Fiction, Emma Carroll, talks to us about her enthralling new novel, The Week at World’s End.
Q: What is your latest book, The Week at World’s End, about?
A: It’s set in 1962, during a very tense few days known as the Cuban Missile Crisis where the world teetered on the brink of nuclear war. My story deals with the very personal conflict facing two friends when they decide to help a runaway girl who claims someone is trying to poison her.
Q: What was the inspiration behind The Week at World’s End?
A: The story was inspired by my parents who were teenagers at the time of the crisis. A lot of this book was written during the first lockdown, so I did a fair bit of research online. The British Museum has a wonderful newspaper archive which I trawled through. I also read (quite terrifying) accounts of information that’s since come to light about how close we came to world war. I read about President Kennedy, Premier Khrushchev, watched documentaries about the crisis. And when I came across an account of nuclear testing on Christmas Island in the Pacific Ocean, I knew I’d found the personal angle to my story.
Q: What made you want to start writing historical fiction for children? What’s the best part about being a children’s author?
A: I love reading historical fiction so it made sense to me to write the sort of book I’d enjoy. I love that I get to write stories all day, read books, talk about books and meet lots of brilliant people. It’s the best job in the world. Ever since I was a child I’ve wanted to be an author.
Q: Where and when do you do your best writing, and what are you working on at the moment?
A: My favourite place to write is in my writing room, which is a small upstairs room at the back of my house, with great views over the countryside. But writing takes you by surprise – sometimes I’ll do my best writing on a crowded train or in a hotel room. I’m currently editing two very different writing projects, and about to start the first draft of my next novel for Faber.
Q: If you were stranded on a desert island, which book would you have with you?
A: My desert island book would be Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë because despite how many times I’ve read it, I still find something new in it every time. It also astonishes me that she created such a brutal, ambiguous, ambitious story when, in the mid 19th century, many of her peers were still getting to grips with the novel form.