This month our Macaw subscribers are looking at our world through a whole new lens as they meet Aria, The Girl Who Fell to Earth, in the brilliant new book by Irish Children's Literature Laureate Patricia Fforde. Aria comes from a planet that looks and feels a lot like our own, but couldn't be more different. This highly original book will get young readers thinking. They will also find much to relate to amongst the young cast of characters, both human and alien. It's a story about friendship and empathy, but also asks some big questions about the world we live in and the future we want for it. Here Patricia answers our questions about what inspired the book and which other fantasy books for tweens and teens she recommends you read next.
What inspired you to write The Girl Who Fell to Earth?
I like to speculate. I started wondering about the size of the Universe and the possibility that there was life on other planets. I wondered what other creatures would make of us and the way we had laid out our stall. In particular, I wondered what they might think of the way we were destroying our only home.
I was also concerned about where we get out information and how young people in particular might be worried about that.
What do you hope readers will take away from the story as it unfolds?
Like all writers, I want them to enjoy the story first and foremost. I'd also like them to consider how we might look to strangers from another world. I'd like them to consider how beautiful and fragile Earth is and our place in the Universe. I'd also like them to see that when we get to know people who are very different to us, we often discover that we are more similar than we first thought. Aria and Megan are aliens to one another but friendship builds a bridge between them.
Are there elements of life on Terros that you think are an improvement on life on Earth?
I like the idea of a memory disc where you can store your memories and upload them whenever you want! I'd like to relive some childhood days that I have forgotten. I remember only special days - either days that were a bit traumatic or days when something funny or amazing happened. I'd rather remember ordinary days. In Terros the memory disc protects people from dementia, another great advantage.
On Terros no-one dies from disease and a lot of the terrible diseases are eradicated in the womb. Cancer, in particular, has destroyed so many lives here. I would love to see that eradicated.
On Terros, there is no racism, and Aria finds it difficult to grasp the concept. A huge improvement on life on Earth where we still discriminate against people based on the colour of their skin.
Do you see Earth differently viewing it through Aria's eyes?
Yes. Things like our health system seem barbaric to her and from her point of view, I realised that everything will change. With the advance of technology, we will carry out surgery without ripping bodies apart. That seems inevitable now. I did a lot of research for this novel and one of the things that scientists are working on is death itself. We humans see death as inevitable but Aria does not. Now I don't either! Aging is a disease like any other and very clever people are trying to find a way to cure it. Some day, they will.
What does the future hold for Aria?
I think she will not be welcome on Terros. As a speaker of the truth, she poses a threat to the people who are in power. But Aria is tough. I think that in the end, she will prevail!
Why did you choose to write books for this age group?
I think that tweens are on the cusp of change. They are about to leave childhood behind and move on. All change brings uncertainty and that is a good place to start a story. There is no story without change and I like that idea. I also feel that this age group is open to possibilities. They don't have all the answers, but they are looking to the future, so speculative fiction suits them.
Do you have a favourite place to write?
I like to write in my study at home. It's the darkest room in the house and I like that. It feels like a cocoon. I like total silence while I work. I might listen to music for inspiration, but when I am actually putting words together, I like silence!
Which other fantasy books for tweens and teens would you recommend our subscribers read next?
In speculative fiction you have Tin by Padraic Kenny and Knights of the Borrowed Dark by Dave Rudden. There's also the Mortal Engines series by Philip Reeve and of course there is the amazing Northern Lights from Philip Pullman.
Copies of our The Girl Who Fell to Earth pack, including a copy of the book and loads of fun activities to go with it, are now available for individual purchase. Grab a copy while stocks last!
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