Where I got the idea for The Quiet at the End of the World

Exactly two years ago, in March 2016, I posted a quote on Instagram from a book I was reading, which is not something I usually do.

“We are a short-lived genus of species. All our cousins are already extinct. We are perhaps the only species on Earth to be conscious of the inevitability of our own mortality. I fear that soon we shall also become the only species that will knowingly watch the coming of its own collective demise, or at least the demise of its civilisation.”

It just really spoke to me and I wanted to share it. Then I carried on with my life and forgot all about it.

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But at the back of my mind, the quote and idea were clearly simmering away because three months later in June 2016, I was backpacking around Cambodia. I woke up in the middle of the night in a grotty youth hostel and scrambled for my travel notebook and wrote out a book idea.

It was about the last boy and girl born after humanity stopped being able to conceive, who have to watch the human race go extinct. That idea grew and grew, and blossomed into The Quiet at the End of the World.

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The idea changed a lot while I was writing it. From the first draft onwards, it changed wildly as I tried to decide how to tackle such a lofty subject. At one point there were aliens, which there definitely aren’t anymore.

I’m really happy with how it turned out, though I clearly owe Carlo Rovelli, who wrote the original quote, a big thank you.

Published by Lauren James

Lauren James was born in 1992, and has a Masters degree from the University of Nottingham, UK, where she studied Chemistry and Physics. She is the twice Carnegie-nominated British Young Adult author of The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, The Quiet at the End of the World and The Next Together series, as well as the dyslexia-friendly novella The Starlight Watchmaker and serialised online novel An Unauthorised Fan Treatise. Her upcoming release is The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker. She started writing during secondary school English classes, because she couldn’t stop thinking about a couple who kept falling in love throughout history. She sold the rights to the novel when she was 21, whilst she was still at university. Her books have sold over fifty thousand copies in the UK alone, and been translated into five languages worldwide. Her writing has been described as ‘gripping romantic sci-fi’ by the Wall Street Journal and ‘a strange, witty, compulsively unpredictable read which blows most of its new YA-suspense brethren out of the water’ by Entertainment Weekly. The Last Beginning was named one of the best LGBT-inclusive works for young adults by the Independent. Lauren is a passionate advocate of STEM further education, and all of her books feature female scientists in prominent roles. The Loneliest Girl in the Universe was inspired by a Physics calculation she was assigned at university. The Quiet at the End of the World considers the legacy and evolution of the human race into the far future. Lauren lives in the West Midlands and is an Arts Council grant recipient.  She has written articles for numerous publications, including the GuardianBuzzfeed, Den of GeekThe Toast, and the Children’s Writers and Artist’s Yearbook 2020. She teaches creative writing for Coventry University, WriteMentor, and Writing West Midlands, providing creative writing courses to children through the Spark Young Writers programme.

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