Author Interview: Karen Thompson Walker

A Book Club read that was most enjoyed recently was The Age of Miracles, by Karen Thompson-Walker. Although we found it to be an intriguing read, and quite a page turner, we did all find it a little bit depressing. This was due to the subject matter – the book is written from the perspective of Julia, a pre teen girl in California who observes the global changes that come about when the earth’s rotation begins to inexplicably slow down, causing days and nights to become longer and longer.

So it was interesting to read this short interview with the author, to find out a little more about her inspiration, and how she researched the possible effects of the slowing. There were many aspects included in the book that hadn’t occurred to me – things that would inevitably happen were the earth’s rotation to be slower than it is now.

“I had assumed that the slower rotation would make gravity seem slightly weaker, that baseballs would begin to fly a little farther, but I learned from my astrophysicist that the opposite is actually more likely, so I reversed those references.”

As a writer that is often inspired by current events and news stories, it was interesting to read that The Age of Miracles was first conceived after Thompson-Walker read a story about the 2004 earthquake in Indonesia, which had been so violent it had actually affected the rotation of the earth. A lot of the other details in the story were also inspired by daily newspaper stories.

“I was always trying to learn from the strange things that happen in our real world, from weird weather to mysterious extinctions to sleep disorders to the onset of unexplained illnesses.”

Despite the bleak outlook of this book (you can kind of tell pretty quickly that it isn’t going to have a happy ending), I would still recommend it. It takes a global catastrophe with widespread effects and narrows it down to the viewpoint of a young girl, illustrating how life can and does go on, no matter what. If you don’t think that “end of the world” stories are particularly your thing, this easy to read novel might be a good place to start.


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