Andrew Hunter Murray is a scriptwriter and fact-hunter for BBC2’s QI, co-host of the podcast No Such Thing As A Fish, and a writer for Private Eye magazine. He talks to us about his first novel, The Last Day, here.
What is The Last Day about?
It’s set a few decades from now, in a world where, after a catastrophe in the heavens, the rotation of the earth has slowed to a halt. Half the planet is now in constant burning sunlight; half is in permanent night. Britain lies on the sunlit side, in the slim habitable zone, and our hero, Ellen Hopper, is summoned to London to visit a dying man she thought she’d never see again…
What inspired the premise of the book?
There are obvious reasons, of course – the climate crisis and the people crossing borders to survive are just two. But it’s also a story about what happens to human nature in extremis, and about how you can recover from your own past. And apart from all that, I wanted to tell a rattling yarn.
Is there a message you want readers to take away from the story?
It seems a bit cheeky trying to prescribe a message after submitting the novel – but if I had to pick one, it’s that there may be some hope out there.
What do you believe Britain will really be like in 2059?
It will definitely be more cheerful than I’ve depicted in The Last Day. Although I often find myself thinking that a lot of aspects of the world I’ve imagined – short of the earth’s rotation stopping – seem perilously likely to come about. Either way, I don’t think HS2 will be finished.
This is your debut novel – how have you found the publishing process so far?
I’ve loved it. This is an industry full of people who are unashamed enthusiasts for books and reading in every form. To step into this world after so many years outside it, and find so many kindred spirits, is intoxicating.
The Last Day will be published by Hutchinson on 6th February.