by Karen Thompson Walker, The Age of Miracles: A Novel (Random House Trade Paperbacks)
The Age of Miracles, my first novel, is the story of a young girl and her family who wake one morning to some astonishing news: the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow.
In the year since it was published, I’ve had the good fortune to travel all over the country—and the world—to meet with readers of all ages at libraries, bookstores, book festivals, and, best of all, schools.
People have asked me all kinds of questions, but certain ones come up again and again, no matter the age of the audience. Some are easy to answer, like these:
* How did I get the idea? (Back in 2004, the speed of the rotation of the earth really did change by a slight margin following the earthquake that caused the tsunami in Indonesia, and I began to wonder right away what would happen if a much larger shift occurred.)
* How much scientific research did I do? (A lot, some on my own and some with the help of a very generous astrophysicist, who worked with me to make the science seem as real as possible.)
* Is there going to be a movie? (Yes! Film rights have been optioned, and Twilight’s Catherine Hardwicke has been hired to direct it.)
Other questions are harder to answer, like this one: Did I write this book for adults or for young adults?
I’ve been asked this question almost everywhere I’ve been, from Australia to Poland to Kansas. Although she narrates the story from adulthood, the main character, Julia, is an 11-year-old girl, and the book is tightly focused on the highs and lows of adolescence—all that love and sadness—and many readers feel it appeals to both audiences. (In France, my publisher even produced two editions with identical texts but different covers, one marketed to adults, the other to teenagers.)
As for me, I just wrote this book for a reader like me. Ever since I was a teenager, my favorite books have been the ones that combine gripping stories with stylish and insightful writing. That’s the kind of book I aspired to write, and it has been hugely satisfying to learn that teenagers as well as adults are responding to it. The Age of Miracles is a story about growing up in a time of profound uncertainty, something that can apply to all readers.
One thing readers of all ages have mentioned is that the book makes them think. I didn’t really set out to write a book about climate change, but I wrote it during a time when we could no longer afford to ignore the very real damage we’re doing to our planet, and the book is partly a love letter to our natural world, in all its beauty and fragility. I’m proud that The Age of Miracles has been chosen as a common read for incoming freshman at several colleges, one of which was specifically searching for a book that addressed environmental issues.
Lastly, please know that I love visiting schools and am always more than happy to speak to students, whether in person or via Skype.
Thank you so much for considering the book for your students.
Karen Thompson Walker is the author of The Age of Miracles, which was a New York Times bestseller and a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, and has been translated into twenty-nine languages. She was born and raised in San Diego and is a graduate of UCLA and the Columbia MFA program. A former editor at Simon & Schuster, she wrote The Age of Miracles in the mornings before work—sometimes while riding the subway. She currently lives in Iowa with her husband.