6 Things With... Gail Aldwin, author of "This Much Huxley Knows"
I’m seven years old and I’ve never had a best mate. Trouble is, no one gets my jokes. And Breaks-it isn’t helping. Ha! You get it, don’t you? Brexit means everyone’s falling out and breaking up.
Huxley is growing up in the suburbs of London at a time of community tensions. To make matters worse, a gang of youths is targeting isolated residents. When Leonard, an elderly newcomer chats with Huxley, his parents are suspicious. But Huxley is lonely and thinks Leonard is too. Can they become friends?
Funny and compassionate, this contemporary novel for adults explores issues of belonging, friendship and what it means to trust.
Gail Aldwin is a novelist, poet and scriptwriter. Prior to Covid-19, she volunteered at Bidibidi in Uganda, the second largest refugee settlement in the world. When she’s not gallivanting around, Gail writes at her home overlooking water meadows in Dorset. She very kindly took the time to chat to us about what went into "This Much Huxley Knows."
So Gail, thank you for being with us today! Could you tell us a bit about six things that went into writing 'This Much Huxley Knows?'
Huxley is in year two at school so I drew upon the experience of working in primary education to include anecdotes of children and teachers. Incidents from family life with young children are also there, although as the characters are imagined, the outcomes are different. I had to connect with my inner child to write from Huxley’s viewpoint – let’s put that into the mix. A love of wordplay adds humour to the story. I never thought I could write anything funny but it’s thanks to collaborative writing of comedy sketches and short plays that I’ve learnt the skills. Last but not least, the feedback I received from local and international writing groups helped to hone the novel.
What are five things you need for a good writing day?
I always begin with a cup of Earl Grey tea. To kickstart my writing, I attend Writers’ Hour, a Zoom call hosted by the London Writers’ Salon at eight o’clock each weekday morning. I love to have uninterrupted time (although it’s good to hear the noises of life around me). I like to sit at a desk with a good chair and of course, nothing would happen without my laptop.
Four types of readers who will enjoy this book?
Anyone who works with young children will find This Much Huxley Knows relatable. It provides the opportunity for parents and grandparents to reflect upon relationships. Those who enjoy social commentary might like to dip in as the novel shines a light on community tensions following the Brexit referendum. Readers looking for a laugh will find it in This Much Huxley Knows.
Three challenges you faced in the writing of this book?
Writing in the voice of a seven-year-old boy takes some doing particularly as I’m at the other end of the scale. Concern over the jeopardy in the plot caused a few sleepless nights. I’m terrible at spelling and hate typos so this always creates some angst.
Two writers who have influenced your work in 'This Much Huxley Knows?'
I borrowed some writerly techniques from Chris Wakling’s novel What I Did which helped to create a unique voice for Huxley. Room by Emma Donoghue with the unforgettable five-year-old Jack was also very influential.
And lastly, one word to describe this book?
‘Read this and feel young again’ – Joe Siple, author of The Five Wishes of Mr. Murray McBride
‘Moving and ultimately upbeat’ – Christopher Wakling, author of What I Did
‘A joyous novel with the wonderfully exuberant character of Huxley’ – Sara Gethin, author of Not Thomas
"This Much Huxley Knows" is available in Kindle and paperback on Amazon. You can connect with Gail on Twitter, Facebook, or on her blog.
Disclaimer: "EMC's 6 things" interview series seeks to promote the artist and their featured writing and is in no way an endorsement of any of said artist's services, opinions or other work outside of this feature.