Article published on May 3, 2016.
Claire North aka Katherine Griffin aka Catherine Webb is the prolific genre-bending author of eighteen novels and, wait for it, she is barely thirty-years-old. How can this be? Well, she wrote her first novel, Mirror Dreams, when she was fourteen years old and garnered two Carnegie Medal nominations before her 20th birthday. She has three young adult series under belt — Horatio Lyle, Matthew Swift, and Magicals Anonymous — and since turning to adult literary fiction under the pseudonym, Claire North, she has been nominated for umpteen Best Science Fiction Novel prizes for her novel, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August. She also keeps up the day-job as a top-level lighting engineer in the theatre and all in all, this writer felt exhausted just reading about her.
On her blog – yes, she does that too! – she has said that “this whole pseudonym thing comes with a caveat. Now that I’m Claire North, writing books in a certain genre, it would be a bit wacky to diverge too massively from that genre after only one novel”. And she has been as good as her word, maintaining her exploitation of killer high-concept plotlines to delight and sometimes to confound her readers. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August concerned a man who had already lived multiple lives. Touch focused on people able to. supplant the consciousness and knowledge of others with their own. Now, The Sudden Appearance Of Hope deals with another sub-group of oddballs, namely, those individuals whom the world forgets, who are destined to remain anonymous no matter what they do.
The protagonist of Claire’s new novel, The Sudden Appearance Of Hope, Hope Ardern, is just such a person. “All the world forgets me,” she begins, “first my face, then my voice, then the consequences of my deeds. It started when I was sixteen years old, a slow declining: a father forgetting to drive me to school; a mother setting the table for three, not four; a teacher who forgets to chase my missing homework; a friend who looks straight through me and sees a stranger. No matter what I do, the words I say, the people I hurt, the crimes I commit – you will never remember who I am. That makes my life tricky. It also makes me dangerous . . .”
There in that short summation lies the creative genius of Claire North. Most of us have felt the sting of exclusion in small ways but immediately we sense that sweet-sounding Hope Ardern has felt it so badly, she might be capable of anything. Precisely what that might be the reader is tantalizingly invited to discover. Buckle up and enjoy the ride!
Bert Wright, Editor – The Nudge List
The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North is published by Orbit as a £16.99 hbk on 19th May
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