This cliff of books is what I see when I look at the back wall of my study. We’ve got books and bookcases all over the house but I spend a lot of time near this one. A lot of the serious stuff is here – law books (I’m a criminal barrister when I’m not writing), philosophy, history, biography and poetry (not always so serious). There’s plenty of YA fiction in the house but my children hoard it in their rooms. I borrow it from them. I have to admit that they don’t borrow so many books from me.
Writing The Bad Tuesdays involved a lot of research – all that weird science had to come from somewhere and it wasn’t just my imagination. And then there was mythology, martial arts and the arcane business of computer hacking. A lot of the books I turned to have found their way onto these shelves.
The outer limits of modern science provide extraordinary possibilities. They allowed me to write about a world where the mechanisms for multiple universes, wormholes, cybertronics and bio-engines could be based on real science. This gives the books I write a reality which is crucial.
There are some amazing books here. Michio Kaku takes mind-bending ideas and explains them in a way that a normally-sized brain can comprehend. David Deusch is a little more complicated but will leave you in no doubt that there are more universes than the one we experience right now. Don’t take my word for it (or his) – just read the evidence!
I like it when ideas come together in surprising ways. I think I must organize my books with that in mind. I certainly write them like that. I wanted to write about a world where different realities exist alongside one another, not just parallel universes but spirit dimensions too. All those gods, heroes, angels and demons didn’t just pack up and leave town at the end of the Middle Ages. They’re as busy as ever – we’re just not in the habit of watching out for them. So mythology and Herodotus’s ‘Histories’ find their place alongside all that quantum physics. Sometimes, the future lies deep in the past.
‘Hacking’ is about computers, not axes. I thought I knew a lot about computers and breaking the law, but the Tuesdays have taught me a lot more. The other kind of hacking finds its way into the books too - the Scythian in ‘The Spiral Horizon’, the final book in the series, comes straight out of Herodotus and he has an axe that hacks copiously. It’s amazing where you end up when you set off with a pen in your hand (or an axe).
And then there’s the martial arts section of the library. Getting the facts straight and using the technical terms matters when describing an open-palm knife strike or a reverse roundhouse kick. True to form, those books have found their own way onto the shelves on a different wall of the study, where they lurk amongst books about gardening (the gardening books aren’t mine).
I love books – my whole family does. We have so many that we don’t know what to do with them. Even if we moved to a bigger house, we’d start filling the extra space with too many books and then we’d run out of space again. There must be a name for a person who does that. Come to think of it, there must be a book about it. Now, if only I could get hold of a copy . . .
THE BAD TUESDAYS 6: THE SPIRAL HORIZON is available now and published by Orion Children’s Books in paperback at £6.99, eBook £4.49