Sunday, 2 October 2016

Writing "The Einstein Code"

At the September Stockport meeting Joanne Welch, author of The Einstein Code, talked about how she came to write the book. She began with the influences on her early life including the schoolteacher who suggested to her parents that she should go to a private Grammar school. This was achieved with the aid of a bursary and a second-hand uniform.

Ever questioning, the Evangelical Christians with whom she worshipped said she was not a proper Christian, so she went to St Paul’s where she became the first girl to become a server.

It was at Wadham College Oxford when she really began to question the existence of God. She was introduced to Richard Dawkins' book The Selfish Gene and Hawking's A Brief History of Time. 
She had a career for a time but then found herself caring for her children and a parent with dementia. Needing something to use her brain, she wrote The Einstein code. When an early version was not published she went on a writing course. Malory Blackman taught her to write to please herself, to read and to rewrite. A novel must have a passionate theme and a good plot structure. Normality should first be established then there must be a trigger point after which the hero/heroine embarks on a perilous journey. There must be a Quest with a few surprises and, of course, a climax. Barry Cunningham’s advice was to start with something dramatic, a “car going over a cliff” moment. Val McDermid said that to write better books one should first read bad books. A recipe for a successful character is a little bit of yourself and a little bit of those you love.  Armed with all this advice she did rewrite and received two offers in 9 weeks.

The book is aimed at children and includes messages in code. Joanne talked about the Caesar code used in the book which is a kind of substitution cipher in which each letter is “shifted” a certain number of places up or down the alphabet. Joanne provided a number of messages in code for the audience to decipher.

She also discussed book codes where both sender and recipient have to use the same page of the same book to encrypt and decrypt the messages.

Other books planned are: The Darwin Code and The Quantum Code

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