The Longest Night of Charlie Noon was published one month ago and I’ve been absolutely thrilled by the reception it’s received so far from readers. Frank Cottrell Boyce recently commented that "a new children's book needs help to find its way into a child's hands", so I'm incredibly grateful for these following reviews:
The Times chose The Longest Night of Charlie Noon as their Children’s Book of the Week, with Alex O'Connell commenting, "Christopher Edge — the coolest science teacher you probably never had — is no ordinary author. There’s no one quite like him writing now. His stories fizz with scientific ideas, the perfect fodder for the child with more questions than answers."
The Sunday Times named The Longest Night of Charlie Noon as one of their Best Summer Reads, with Nicolette Jones describing it as, "A heart-stopping adventure with thrills and twists, codes and puzzles, underpinned by an intense evocation of the natural world."
The Guardian featured an amazing review of The Longest Night of Charlie Noon in their Review section this weekend, with Tony Bradman commenting, "It isn’t every day that a novel for 8- to 12-year-olds reminds you of TS Eliot’s Four Quartets, Dante’s Inferno and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. There’s a dash of The Twilight Zone in there too, plus a hint of the Wild Wood from The Wind in the Willows, all swirled together at the same time. A writer of genuine originality ... Edge creates strong characters who come alive on the page, and he has a thriller writer’s feel for suspense."
The Week Junior chose The Longest Night of Charlie Noon as their Book of the Week, describing it as "A gripping story with hints of science, history and philosophy that will keep you guessing right to the end."
Booktrust picked The Longest Night of Charlie Noon as one of their best new books for June, commenting, "Skilfully written and structured for maximum tension, this short but powerful novel keeps the reader guessing throughout."
In the month since publication, I've been haring up and down the country talking about The Longest Night of Charlie Noon and it's been a pleasure to talk to children in Bristol, London, Manchester, Bedford, Cheltenham and many more places. However, one of the absolute highlights of the launch tour for the book was when I spoke at the Royal Institution. To be invited as an author of children's books to speak at the home of the Christmas Lectures and stand on the same stage that has been graced by esteemed scientists such as Michael Faraday, Carl Sagan and Sir David Attenborough was a real honour, and I was delighted to be joined by Bletchley Park's Tom Briggs and UCL astrophysicist Amelie Saintonge to explore the science behind The Longest Night of Charlie Noon. It was a magical evening that ended with a bang, and one of the greatest pleasures of the evening for me was getting the chance to speak to so many children in the signing after the event and hear how they've been inspired by the science in my stories.
Finally, I was thrilled to learn in June that The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day had been chosen as the inaugural winner of the STEAM Children’s Book Prize. The prize was set up by UCLan Publishing to celebrate children’s books that highlight the importance of science, technology, engineering, arts and maths. Roman Belyaev won the best information book category for How Does a Lighthouse Work?, How the Borks Became by Jonathan Emmet and Elys Dolan was named the best early years book, White Rabbit Red Wolf by Tom Pollock won the YA category, Battle of the Beetles by M G Leonard was the winner of the ‘Your Choice Award’ voted for by school pupils, while The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day won the overall prize and the middle-grade category. Science inspires and with so many wonderful books on the shortlists, I'm incredibly proud that The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day was chosen as the winner. Huge thanks to UCLan Publishing and The British Interplanetary Societyfor setting up the award, and huge congratulations to all the other shortlisted authors and illustrators.
These are the songs that soundtrack the story in my mind. Each chapter has its own track, so track one equals chapter one and so on. It starts with the song 'Wild Wood' by Paul Weller whose lyric says, 'we're going to find our way out of this wild, wild wood' and that's the challenge that Charlie, Dizzy and Johnny face. And the final song in the soundtrack is a wonderful track by Guillemots called 'Up On The Ride' which for me captures the feeling I'd like readers to take away from the novel as they turn the final pages.
I'm in the midst of a blog tour for The Longest Night of Charlie Noon and here are the stops I've made so far.
You can also read an interview about The Longest Night of Charlie Noon at Reading Zoneand I also had the pleasure of speaking to Nikki Gamble for In The Reading Corner and you can listen to this interview here.
The programmes for the Edinburgh International Book Festival have also been announced and I'm absolutely thrilled to be heading back there this year. I've got a Scintillating Science with Christopher Edge event for families and children on Saturday 17th August where I'll be exploring code-breaking, stargazing and The Longest Night of Charlie Noon, and I'm also appearing in the adult programme for a reading workshop on the classic novel, Brendon Chase. Hope to see you there or, if you can't make it to Edinburgh, maybe at my event at the Royal Institution on Saturday 22nd June.
Sometimes childhood can be romanticised as a golden time filled with carefree days climbing trees, but when you’re a child you often feel powerless and can’t wait to grow up.
In The Longest Night of Charlie Noon, three children get lost in the woods and, through the course of a strange night that seems like it will never end, undertake an unforgettable journey.
It’s a story filled with mystery and adventure. There are secret codes to solve and puzzles to unlock. Danger lurks in the shadows of this story, but you’ll find kindness and courage in its pages too. It’s a story about facing your fears and finding your way, even when it seems like all hope is gone.
As someone who’s never been known as much of an outdoor type, writing The Longest Night of Charlie Noon has helped me to connect me with the natural world in a way that has fed my imagination. It’s a story that has sent me deep into the heart of the woods, including one very scary night that I spent alone in the ancient woodland of Lower Woods where the story is set. I hope The Longest Night of Charlie Noon might inspire young readers to venture out into the woods themselves to make their own adventures there. There’s even some climbing of trees…
It’s a story about time and memory and the moments that matter. It’s a story about the power we have to change the world.
It’s a story about now.
And I hope you enjoy it.
The build-up to publication day is a time filled with nervous anticipation, so it's been incredibly heartening to read some early responses to The Longest Night of Charlie Noon, including from authors I admire. There are quite a few surprises in the story, so I'm really grateful to reviewers for avoiding any spoilers, but if you want to come to the story completely fresh you might want to look away now!
“Compulsively readable, thrilling, daring and quite unlike any other children’s book I have ever read, yet clearly also set in a tradition of the very best.”Piers Torday, author of The Last Magician
“Yet another captivating story from [Christopher Edge] which effortlessly blends science, philosophy and heart.” Abi Elphinstone, author of Sky Song
"A fever dream of a story ... Make time to read it." A. F. Harrold, author of The Afterwards
"A spooky and breathtaking adventure. Christopher Edge takes the reader on an unforgettable journey." Ross Welford, author of Time Travelling with a Hamster
“Science and imagination are often presented as opposites that can have nothing in common. Here Christopher Edge demonstrates again that this is untrue; science and imagination need each other…. An excellent and enjoyable read.” Books for Keeps
“Atmospheric, intelligent and thought-provoking, this is the kind of story that loves to surprise you every time you feel sure you have a handle on it.” Books for Topics
“A mind-blowing, heart-stopping, dimension-defying dash through time that thrums with tantalising twists & leaves you completely breathless.” Scott Evans, The Reader Teacher
“Known for incorporating “big-idea science” into his novels in ways children can comprehend, Edge here repeats and refines his formula to create a puzzlebox romp through trees, terrors and time itself.” Simon Lamb, John O’Groat Journal
“Top-quality storytelling as ever from Edge, with a scientific twist.” Fiona Noble, The Bookseller
“An absolute joy to read… brilliant for inquisitive minds.” Independent Book Reviews
“Christopher Edge has a fantastic ability to explain complex scientific concepts and weave them into a compelling storyline.” Our Classroom Reviews
Next week I'm excited to set out on a blog tour for The Longest Night of Charlie Noon, so check in with these ace bloggers on the dates below to find out more.
"After the amazing The Many Worlds of Albie Bright, Christopher Edge would easily be forgiven for a less ambitious follow-up. Instead, he has written a novel easily as good as the one before, filled with his trademark combination of wit, pathos and hilarity." Booktrust
"With family drama and alien intrigue, this captures both the wonder of space and the complexity of growing up." The Bookseller
"With solid science and believable family conflicts, this will be very satisfying to readers whose wishful thinking can suspend disbelief." Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"A story of huge ideas and even huger heart." Abi Elphinstone
"An adventure that wears its out-of-this-world-ness with verve and delight, but which never forgets where its heart is." A.F. Harrold
"Moving, and exploding with scientific ideas and wonder." The Herald
"Edge offers an artful, touching exploration of grief. Albie’s first person narrative, inflected with references to science and classic sci-fi, will be especially appealing to middle-grade fans of the genre." Booklist
"Reader’s will be captivated by Albie’s adventures in parallel versions of his own life and intrigued by the science behind his travels. A fascinating take on bereavement and sorrow." School Library Journal
"A book with a big brain, big laughs and a big, big heart." Frank Cottrell Boyce
"I'd love this book in all the worlds. Heartbreaking, heartwarming, heartstopping. Amazing." Holly Smale
"Hilarious and full of heart." Piers Torday
"A clever, funny and very touching novel." LoveReading4Kids
Twelve Minutes to Midnight
"An excellent mystery in a league with Jonathan Stroud's Bartimaeus, Philip Pullman's Sally Lockhart, and Eleanor Updale's Montgomery series." Booklist, starred review
"Original, chilling, atmospheric mystery with a heroine of remarkable mettle." Kirkus Reviews
"Will keep readers hooked until the end." Library Media Connection
Shadows of the Silver Screen
"A gripping, page-turning adventure." Julia Eccleshare
"Once again, Edge's deft use of gothic elements ensures maximum chills and suspense. The spunky heroine is a captivating one, as is her deliciously sensational adventure." Kirkus Reviews
"Great fun and delightfully suspenseful, balancing a blend of gothic fantasy with a well-constructed homage to Penny Dreadful tales." Booklist
It’s been a bit of a dream bank holiday weekend. It started on Saturday when I opened the Review section of The Guardian to discover that Imogen Russell Williams had included The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day in her monthly round-up of the best new children’s books. You can see the review from the print edition below and the longer version of the review is online here. It was so great to be included in this round-up alongside brilliant new titles from Lauren St John, Sophie Anderson, Philip Reeve and David Almond, and truly thrilling to read Imogen’s wonderful words about The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day.
Then on Bank Holiday Monday I headed west to the Hay Festival, where I was appearing alongside Robin Ince in an event entitled ‘Science in Stories’. I’m a huge fan of Robin’s work from his brilliant stand-up to the freewheeling Book Shambles podcast he hosts with Josie Long. Robin is also, of course, the co-host of The Infinite Monkey Cage, Radio 4’s award-winning series that brings together figures from the arts with leading scientists to discuss questions such as ‘What is Reality’ and ‘How to Build a Universe’ – which is also the title of the brilliant book by the Monkey Cage team of Robin, Professor Brian Cox and Alexandra Feachem.
In the acknowledgements page at the back of The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day, I thank The Infinite Monkey Cage for helping to expand my understanding of the universe. In our society we often confuse seriousness with intelligence, but what makes The Infinite Monkey Cage so brilliant and utterly unique is the fierce intelligence and joyful silliness it brings to the subject of science, capturing I think the true sense of joy and wonder that lies at the heart of so much scientific endeavour. On the show mind-boggling topics such as infinity are explored in such an entertaining way that, for me, it made researching The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day a real delight. So I was hugely excited to have the chance to talk to Robin on stage at Hay.
I must admit this sense of excitement took on a slightly nervous twinge as I stepped onstage at our sold-out event to see 750 faces staring back at me, but with Robin seated to my right, the audience were soon laughing with delight as his comic skills and boundless curiosity took us on a tour of the universe. Our conversation explored how science and stories both help us to make sense of the world, touching on topics such as the Large Hadron Collider, Schrödinger's cat, extraterrestrial life and the nature of reality, whilst Robin revealed that the best way to get him to stop talking is to apply a strong magnetic pulse to the left-side of his brain! (A feat accomplished by Professor Sophie Scott in her 2017 Christmas Lecturesat the Royal Institution.)
At the end of the event when Robin asked for questions, a forest of hands was raised with those hands held highest belonging to the youngest audience members. From them we fielded questions about the significance of human existence, the possibility of parallel universes, the chances of alien life and whether we should colonize Mars. It was so wonderful to see how their imaginations had been fired and it reminded me that young people’s hunger for wonder is one of the reasons I write children’s fiction. For those questions we didn’t have the chance to answer, Robin invited the questioners to come along and ask them at the book signing after the event, which I think explained the epic length of the signing queue!
As Robin and I chatted to readers it was brilliant to hear about the different ways in which science inspired them and how they were channelling this inspiration, from taking part in after-school science clubs to writing their own science fiction stories. I must admit it made me feel proud to think that books like The Many Worlds of Albie Bright and The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day are helping in some small way to fuel this excitement about science and stories.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to Julia Eccleshare and the team at Hay for inviting me to be part of this year’s festival, to Robin Ince for agreeing to take part in the event and being such wonderful company, and a huge thank you too to everyone who came along, especially the youngest audience members. I think Spaceship Earth will be in good hands with you at the helm.
And for anyone who wants to put a little more science and wonder in their life, I’ve just got time to let you know about a couple of events that are taking place in June. On Friday 15 June Robin Ince and Chris Hadfield are hosting Space Shamblesat the Royal Albert Hall, a star-studded evening of comedy, music and science. You can find full details of the stellar line-up for this event here and I think there are still a few tickets available for what’s bound to be an amazing evening.
Then on the evening of Saturday 16 June, I’m hugely excited to be appearing at the Royal Institution where I’ll be joined by cosmologist Andrew Pontzen and the scientist and BAFTA-nominated science presenter Fran Scott at an event to illuminate the exciting physics and cosmology that can be found inside The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day. The Royal Institution is describing this as “the perfect event for science enthusiasts and bookworms alike!” and to say that I’m absolutely thrilled about it would be a bit of an understatement! You can buy tickets for the event hereand I really hope to see you there.
I've also had the pleasure of chatting about the book with Bex at Fun Kids Radio and Robin Ince for a Book Shambles Extra podcast. (I'm also thrilled to be appearing alongside Robin Ince at this year's Hay Festival on Monday 28th May - please come along to our event if you can make it!)
So when it came to creating a soundtrack for The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day, one soundtrack was never going to be enough! When The Jamie Drake Equation was published on World Book Day last year, I had the chance to chat to BBC Radio DJ Chris Hawkins about the soundtrack I’d created for the novel on his 6 Music show. So when bound proofs of The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day rolled off the presses, I got in touch with Chris to see if he fancied reading this and creating his own soundtrack for the story. Luckily, he said yes and this is the message he sent along with his specially-curated soundtrack for the book.
“The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day is out of this world…a kid’s epic adventure to infinity and back. These are the songs that matched the story for me.” Chris Hawkins, BBC Radio
I really love the soundtrack choices that Chris has made – I knew from his 6Music show that he has brilliant and eclectic musical taste, but it’s been fascinating to see this reflected through the prism of The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day and be introduced to tracks by bands like dEUS and Dutch Uncles that I hadn’t heard before. I especially love the song he has chosen to close the soundtrack – One Day Like This by Elbow – as this really evokes for me the emotions that I hope readers take away from the story.
In terms of my own choices I could’ve created an infinite playlist for the book, but stuck to eighteen songs that for me soundtrack key moments in the story. You’ll find tracks by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Massive Attack, David Bowie and The Charlatans, to name but a few. But the one song that makes it onto both soundtracks is the mesmerizing Birthday by The Sugarcubes, whose eerie beauty captures for me the mood of the opening chapter.
You can listen to the Spotify playlist of my soundtrack here and Chris Hawkins’ soundtrack here, and find the chapter-by-chapter breakdown of the songs on my soundtrack below if you want to listen along as you read The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day.
And if you fancy making your own soundtrack for the story, let me know what songs you’d choose by tagging me on Twitter with the hashtags #MaisieDay #infinitesongs
The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day – the author’s chapter-by-chapter tracklisting:
1 Birthday by The Sugarcubes (Chapter 1)
2 There She Goes, My Beautiful World by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (Chapter 1/Chapter 3)
3 If You Don’t Want Me To Destroy You by Super Furry Animals (Chapter 3)
4 Way To Blue by Nick Drake (Chapter 5)
5 Pictures of You by The Cure (Chapter 5)
6 Space and Time by The Verve (Chapter 6)
7 Lazarus by The Boo Radleys (Chapter 7)
8 Black Milk by Massive Attack (Chapter 7)
9 3 a.m. Eternal (Blue Danube Orbital Mix) by the KLF (remix by The Orb) (Chapter 9)
10 The Private Psychedelic Reel by The Chemical Brothers (Chapter 9)
11 Midnight in a Perfect World by DJ Shadow (Chapter 11)
12 Where Are We Know? by David Bowie (Chapter 11)
13 Infinity by The xx (Chapter 11)
14 Two Months Off by Underworld (Chapter 12)
15 Inbetween Days by The Cure (Chapter 13)
16 Hymn (David McAlmont version) by Ultramarine (Chapter 14)
17 Where The Light Gets In by Primal Scream featuring Sky Ferreira (Chapter 15)
18 Hey Sunrise by The Charlatans (Chapter 16)
The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day – the Chris Hawkins soundtrack
1 In the Beginning by Mike Oldfield
2 Time by Pink Floyd
3 She Blinded Me With Science by Thomas Dolby
4 Birthday by The Sugarcubes
5 Close To Me by The Cure
6 Dreaming by Blondie
7 I Hear Voices by Kasabian
8 We Are All Made of Stars by Moby
9 Ball of Confusion by The Temptations
10 Little Arithmetics by dEUS
11 Hello Spaceboy (Pet Shop Boys remix) by David Bowie
12 Television The Drug of the Nation by The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy
13 Supermassive Black Hole by Muse
14 Time Is My Everything by Ian Brown
15 Magical Mystery Tour by The Beatles
16 Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space by Spiritualized
17 Particle Man by They Might Be Giants
18 Go To The Mirror! by The Who
19 Big Balloon by Dutch Uncles
20 Help The Aged by Pulp
21 There Is A Light That Never Goes Out by The Smiths
“Wow, I wish Christopher Edge had been my science teacher. The writer, who in timely fashion nods to Stephen Hawking early in this gripping story, has a magical way of distilling difficult concepts for the very young: relativity, gravity, time and space, infinity. It helps, of course, that he weaves these ideas into a high-energy thriller about virtual reality, black holes and strained sibling relationships.”
I’ve also got some exciting events coming up. On Sunday 6th May I’m running a creative writing masterclass at the Shrewsbury Bookfest and the following week on Sunday 13th May, I’ll be appearing at Barnes Children’s Literature Festival where I’ll be talking about The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day.
I’m also proud to be a part of this year’s Hay Festivaland will be appearing alongside the ace Robin Ince, stand-up comedian and presenter of BBC Radio 4’s The Infinite Monkey Cage on Monday 28 May at 4.00pm, in an event entitled ‘Science in Stories’ where we’ll be discussing science, creativity and the nature of reality.
And finally, on the evening of Saturday 16th June, I am appearing at the Royal Institution where I’ll be joined by Cosmologist Andrew Pontzenand the scientist and BAFTA-nominated science presenter Fran Scott at an event to illuminate the exciting physics and cosmology that can be found inside The Infinite Lives of Maisie. The Royal Institution are describing this as “the perfect event for science enthusiasts and bookworms alike!” and to say that I’m absolutely thrilled about it would be a bit of an understatement!
When I was growing up, the only time you ever saw a trailer was when the Pearl & Dean theme boomed out across the cinema. From Raiders of the Lost Ark to Romancing the Stone, the trailers shown at the Princes Cinema in Eccles gave me a first glimpse of coming attractions that left me counting down the days until the actual films arrived on screen.
Times move on and now books have trailers too, so I’m hugely excited to be able to share the amazing trailer that Nosy Crow have created for my new novel, The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day, which you can watch above.
The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day will be published on the 5th April 2018 and you’ll be able to take a sneak peek at the opening chapters soon, but until then here’s a bit more about the book:
It’s Maisie’s birthday and she can’t wait to open her presents. She’s hoping for the things she needs to build her own nuclear reactor. But she wakes to an empty house and outside the front door is nothing but a terrifying, all-consuming blackness. Trapped in an ever-shifting reality, Maisie knows that she will have to use the laws of the universe and the love of her family to survive. And even that might not enough…
Huge thanks to Matt Saunders for the wonderful cover art he’s created for The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day, Tom Saunders for his amazing animation, and Tom Bonnick and the team at Nosy Crow for all their brilliant work on the trailer.
As I wrote when The Many Worlds of Albie Bright was nominated last year, the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards are described as ‘the gold standard in literature and illustration for children and young people’ because they are chosen by the experts in children’s literature and illustration – librarians.
The Jamie Drake Equation is a book about astronauts and aliens, family and friendship, and was written for anyone who has ever looked at the stars. When I was writing the book, I wanted to use the following quotation from the film, A Matter of Life and Death, as the opening epigraph, but sadly wasn’t able to clear the permission to use this:
“This is the Universe. Big, isn’t it?”
I believe that reading opens the door to the Universe. Every one of the books nominated for the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Medals is a shining point of light in the sky, and beyond this list there are countless more brilliant books shining there too. Libraries are the spaceships that help us explore this universe and librarians the starship commanders, helping readers to aim for the stars and discover new worlds. Thank you to all librarians for the vital work that you do. Thank you for nominating The Jamie Drake Equation.
So begins my new novel, The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day, which will be published by Nosy Crow on the 5th April 2018. As the d ark nights draw in, April seems like an age away, but the brilliant team at NosyCrow have already created beautiful bound proofs of the book which are now making their way into the hands of some early readers.
“The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it alive: a live thing, a story.”
It’s thrilling - and a little bit scary too - to realize that The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day is now coming alive and becoming a story, so it’s been incredibly heartening to hear some early responses to the book: