Teens' Book of the Month: Bombmaker
Author: Claire McFall | Age category: 15+
Lizzie is a branded Celt living in London. If she is caught a second time by the police, she will be shot. She lives under the protection and mercy of Alexander, a gang boss and terrorist. She also plants his bombs. This is a fast-paced story set in an England that has closed its borders to the world, with Wales and Scotland in chaos. It explores themes of terrorism, seperatism and national identity.
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What is the name of Claire McFall's first novel?
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Q&A with the author, Claire McFall
Did you enjoy the research that you did for this book?
I did, actually! There was a lot more research to be done on Bombmaker than my first book. Although it's a dystopian novel, it's much more real-world than Ferryman, which is a fantasy book about the after-life. It's set in London and I like to get the finicky details right if I can. So, as I've only been to London twice in my life, I spent a lot of time on Google maps, especially the street view, running down streets I intended to send Lizzie to. Luckily my editor is based in London, and she was fab at correcting any little geography mistakes that I made.
However... I'm also slightly nervous that I might have an MI5 file somewhere after some of the internet searches I had to do! The novel is called Bombmaker, which kind of gives away that there are bombs in it. Setting out to write, I didn't have a clue about explosives or wiring... or the inner working of cars! 'How to wire a bomb' isn't something you really want to plug into Google!
Why did you start writing this book?
As cheesy as it sounds... I had a dream. My stories quite often start off that way. I've lost count of the amount of times I've been awake at 4am, frantically scribbling an idea down in a notepad before it fades away out of my head! I had a dream about a cat-burglar type character under the thumb of a scary gang boss and so that made up the beginnings of the plot. Added to that, I'd just rewatched the film Children of Men which has a dystopian feel. I really liked the world that was built - Britain clinging on to civilisation by the skin of its teeth. Two and two together makes... Bombmaker!
What else have you written?
Ooh... lots of stuff! I always have a project on the go, sometimes two or three! Right at this minute I'm writing a potential sequel to Bombmaker (I can't tell you anything about that without giving away too many Bombmaker secrets!) but I've also written a paranormal thriller that I'm really excited about. It's set in Dumfries and Galloway and is about a group of friends on a camping trip who disturb an evil spirit. It's been a lot of fun seeing if I can creep out my guinea-pig readers!
My first book, Ferryman, is about the afterlife. It revolves around a girl called Dylan who's from Glasgow. She's heading to Aberdeen to meet her dad for the first time, but on the way there's an horrific train crash. She crawls out to find that she's alone except for one other survivor - a boy named Tristan. Trying to make their way for help, Dylan begins to realise something's not quite right about the world since she's come out of the tunnel. She's right - it's the wasteland, a frightening place that dead souls have to cross; and Tristan is her Ferryman. It's a modern version of the Greek myth of Charon... and it's in this year's Scottish Children's Book Awards in the Older Readers section!