HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA FOR THE LIGHT THE ABYSS SERIES? AND CAN YOU SHARE MORE ABOUT YOUR WRITING PROCESS?
I speak on this and more in various interviews which you can find here.
IS THE LIGHT THE ABYSS SERIES “CLIMATE FICTION”?
Though it’s set deep underwater, the setting isn’t actually caused by climate change. Therefore, to the best of my knowledge, it is not technically “climate fiction”. It was an asteroid that brought about the floods in my story world. I speak more on this in my interview with Kirkus.
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN IN A SUBMERSIBLE OR SUBMARINE YOURSELF?
Most unfortunately, I haven’t. I would give anything to pilot a submersible down into the deep, and race through the depths. The chance to visit a whole other world, right here on ours. I dearly hope I get the chance to experience this one day.
First and foremost, Leyla. Not only do I love her bravery and determination in the face of such adversity, but I’ve experienced my dream—that of a submerged existence—through her. After Leyla, it would have to be Oscar Wilde. I had great fun with Oscar, especially in book 2 when he begins to assert himself in ever delightful and wicked ways!
Yes! They’re around for longer in book 2. Oh and Tabby finds a new interest...
The flooding in my story world is global, and extensive enough to be society-altering. There’s currently no precedent for how planetary change on such a cataclysmic scale might affect our psyche. I had to consider how such a change could potentially impact our well-being, and concluded it wouldn’t be improbable for many of us to suffer from some sort of malaise specific to the unfathomable and challenging environment we suddenly found ourselves in. Of course those present during the disaster would have suffered the greatest. It’s quite possible subsequent generations might have found the situation less suffocating, but in my story world the seasickness remains a huge problem partially due to society’s obsession with everything Old-World (pre-floods), and its refusal to acknowledge the malaise as anything other than an innate longing for life before the disaster. They’re projecting their own toxic nostalgia onto sufferers, and don’t recognise it’s actually a condition that requires real treatment. As such, Leyla too is only just beginning to try and understand the malaise in book 1. The seasickness is born specifically out of the people’s relationship to the submerged environment they’ve been thrust into.
ARE YOU PLANNING ON WRITING FURTHER NOVELS IN THE SERIES?
I’m done with Leyla’s story. However, I wouldn’t rule out one day returning to this world to explore it further. I’d also love to perhaps one day cover the disaster itself (a prequel). The latter has especially always really excited me. I’d put a lot of thought into how we might react to the news of impending global flooding that would see us relocate to the deep, exactly how we’d try and prepare ourselves at every level, and all the specifics of the waters rising around us. Humans living underwater will always intrigue me no end, and covering that time—such a tremendous, unprecedented change for humanity—would mean I could really explore the transformation at every level. So I’m definitely not ruling out returning to the Light the Abyss world one day.
IS LEYLA AFGHAN?
No, Leyla is, like myself, a British Muslim of Pashtun ethnicity, and Afghan heritage :)