PENG SHEP­HERD

MEET THE FORMER DE­FENCE SER­VICES CO­OR­DI­NA­TOR BE­HIND THE BOOK OF M

SFX - - Red Alert -

Tell us about your pro­tag­o­nists.

ory and Max are hus­band and wife, hid­ing from the strange phe­nom­e­non caus­ing peo­ple’s shad­ows to dis­ap­pear – un­til Max’s shadow dis­ap­pears too, and they’re forced to con­front the curse head-on. then there’s naz, a wo­man whose fate be­comes en­tan­gled with theirs, and “the am­ne­siac”, the most mys­te­ri­ous of them all...

What sparked the novel?

i knew i wanted to write about shad­ows, but it wasn’t un­til i stum­bled across “Zero Shadow day” – a real day in in­dia when ev­ery year, ev­ery­one’s shad­ows dis­ap­pear for just a few min­utes – that the seed was sown.

You stud­ied In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies and Diplo­macy – did that feed into it?

a lit­tle bit! in the early panic, visas get re­voked, bor­ders close to con­tain the spread, and lead­ers give speeches to re­as­sure cit­i­zens. the world falls apart pretty quickly af­ter that.

How long did it take to write?

i brain­stormed for a long time be­fore i started writ­ing, but once i did, it seemed fast. i fin­ished the first draft in nine months, then re­vised for six.

Did you do much re­search?

Most of it was cen­tred around Zero Shadow day, as well as sev­eral an­cient myths in the Rigveda. i also stud­ied up on ele­phants – it’ll make sense once you start read­ing! IB

The Book Of M is pub­lished on 28 June.

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