Wednesday, 28 August 2019 "I wanted A Map of the Sky to be a story of possibility and hope as much as it is one of disappointment and pain..."

Blog | Author Interviews

When Claire published The Runaway, her debut novel, she told us it was “a letter to all those who need to hear that they are doing OK and that the world is better than it looks right now”. With A Map of the Sky she continues to grapple with the most significant of challenges – memories, family relationships, and sating an appetite for adventure.

Kit, the eleven-year old protagonist of Claire’s forthcoming novel, is forced to come to terms with a new life in a remote coastal village in the north of England after his family is uprooted. Kit’s desire for adventure – and his childish curiosity – bring him face to face with the intricacies of relationships, personal pasts and family struggles.

“Right from the start, I knew my main character was going to be a challenge. When I first had the idea for A Map of the Sky, I could picture Kit clearly in my mind: a young boy with dark hair who loved running along the coastal cliffs.

Some say you should write about what you know. And I have never experienced what it’s like to be an eleven-year old boy! But I felt that through Kit’s eyes the story would fill with a sense of wonder and excitement that only comes from a child’s perspective on the world. So I enlisted the help of a former teacher who had spent years with that particular age group; she gave me useful advice on how to get Kit’s voice just right.

“I wanted A Map of the Sky to be a story of possibility and hope, as much as it’s one about disappointment and pain.

“In Kit’s eyes, the guesthouse where his family is staying becomes a play where adventures and miracles don’t look so impossible after all. I also wanted some of the confusion and fun that plays out as Kit interprets the actions of adults around him and, despite being a highly intelligent child, completely misreads the situation.

“I like stories you can enjoy at face value or choose to ponder the themes more deeply depending on how you feel. That’s why my novels reference other works: books and poems that have inspired me or share similar ideas. In A Map of the Sky I draw on Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, which explores themes of guilt, hope and forgiveness, and also the legends of King Arthur, because they tie in so perfectly with Kit’s dream of being a hero who can save his family from disaster.

“My hope is that readers will share Kit’s joy and amazement at the world. Even as the story explores some quite difficult subjects, he’s a character who never gives up hope."

Claire Wong has seen success with both of her novels to date, with A Map of the Sky being shortlisted for The People’s Book Prize. Read more about the shortlist and cast your vote here. You can read an extract of the book using the widget on the right, or click here to buy the book when it’s released on 20 September.