Matt Haig rolls back the years in new novel How To Stop Time

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From vam­pires in The Radleys to aliens in The Hu­mans, Matt Haig has writ­ten about many long-liv­ing fan­tas­ti­cal be­ings in his nov­els. In How To Stop Time he fo­cuses on an in­di­vid­ual, who is blessed – or cursed? – with the abil­ity to age very grad­u­ally.

“What I wanted to do here is to give the feel­ing of time through this char­ac­ter,” Haig tells Red Alert. “But Tom, the main char­ac­ter, isn’t tech­ni­cally im­mor­tal. He just ages 15 times slower than other peo­ple. This means that he can have met Shake­speare, Cap­tain Cook and F Scott Fitzger­ald all in the same life. I just thought that was fun.”

As its ti­tle sug­gests, the process of tem­pus fugit is cru­cial to the un­fold­ing story. “Time is the most fas­ci­nat­ing sub­ject, as ev­ery­thing is about space and time, isn’t it?” laughs Haig. “You can’t stop time, but in the book the char­ac­ters who suf­fer from the ages­low­ing con­di­tion can reach a point where they have a supreme un­der­stand­ing of time. They can ef­fec­tively see the fu­ture and the past and em­brace the present.”

We might get to see How To Stop Time on the big screen too, as it’s been op­tioned for a film with Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch at­tached to play Tom, which, ac­cord­ing to Haig, is like “a dream come true”.

How To Stop Time is pub­lished on 6 July.

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