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.
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.
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.