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Interview with Earth Girl scifi author Janet Edwards

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Janet Edwards lives in England and is the author of the Earth Girl trilogy. As a child, she read everything she could get her hands on, including a huge amount of science fiction and fantasy. She studied Math at Oxford, and went on to suffer years of writing unbearably complicated technical documents before deciding to write something that was fun for a change. She has a husband, a son, a lot of books, and an aversion to housework.

For what age audience do you write?

My current books are science fiction aimed at both young adult and adult readers, but it’s possible I may stray across the border into the lands of fantasy in future. I’ve read a lot in both genres, and it’s a very thin dividing line between them.

Henry: Indeed. Clarke's Third Law states "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

Tell us about your latest US book release.

My debut novel, Earth Girl, was released in the US in March 2013. It’s set in the year 2788 when only the handicapped live on Earth. Eighteen-year-old Jarra is among the one in a thousand people born with an immune system that cannot survive on other planets.

Sent to Earth at birth to save her life, Jarra has been abandoned by her parents. She can't travel to other worlds, but she can watch their vids, and she knows all the jokes they make. She's an "ape," a "throwback," but this is one ape girl who won't give in. Jarra makes up a fake military background for herself and joins a class of norms who are on Earth for a year of practical history studies excavating the dangerous ruins of the old cities. She wants to see their faces when they find out they've been fooled into thinking an ape girl was a norm. She isn't expecting to make friends with the enemy, to risk her life to save norms, or to fall in love.

The sequel, Earth Star, is already out in the UK and I’m currently looking forward to its US release date of 15th April 2014.

Henry: The reference "ape girl" reminds me of that hilarious line in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: "It's not my God damned planet, Monkey Boy." When coming from an alien, that line is the ultimate racial slur.

What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?

Primarily Earth Girl is meant to be a fun read, but hopefully readers will also do some thinking about disability and prejudice and the assumptions we make about other people.

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

That varies from one day to the next, but letting go is hard. That’s the moment you send a book off after the final proof check, and it’s scary. You’ve spent so much time working desperately hard to make it perfect, but now it’s heading off to be published and you can’t change anything any longer. Whatever error you failed to spot, whatever bright idea you wish you’d included, whatever sentence you meant to take out and forgot, whatever scene you still weren’t sure about, it’s too late to fix it now.

Henry: Kind of like when your child moves out. You tried your best and now you hope for the best.

What is a powerful lesson you've learned from being a writer?

No two people ever read the same book. Each reader brings their own personality, experiences and emotions with them, and combines them with the words they are reading. Something can be hugely significant to one person, because it relates to something important in their own life, while meaning nothing to someone else. Which is exactly the way it should be. A book isn’t just a one-sided lecture from the author, it’s a meeting of minds.

Henry: You are my first interviewee to bring up that point, and it is an excellent one. One man's meat is another man's poison.

Read the full interview at Henry's blog on KidLit, SciFi and Fantasy.

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