JENNY MCLACHLAN spent thirteen years of her life teaching English: a job that combined her passion for the written word with her passion for showing off. It also provided her with the inspiration for her books. In the summer of 2014 she became a fulltime writer.
Jenny lives by the seaside with her husband and two small but fierce girls. In addition to writing, she enjoys exploring the South Downs, running and, if it will embarrass her husband enough, jiving in any vaguely suitable situation.
What writing Stargazing For Beginners taught me
by Jenny McLachlan
- How to spell ‘beginners’. What can I say? For an ex-English teacher and graduate I have surprisingly dodgy spelling.
- That the universe is inconceivably huge. I mean, I knew it was big and like most people I’d heard that there are more stars in the universe than grains of sand on all the world’s beaches, but then I read that this might be an underestimation. In fact, it’s more likely that there are up to 10 times more stars than grains of sand in the world. WAAHHH!!! So much sand…so many stars…I’m so tiny! I can literally feel myself shrinking as I try to imagine what 10 sextillion stars look like. Yep, ‘sextillion’ is a real – if very funny – word and it means a billion, billion.
- Human beings are basically a big waste of space. Before I wrote Stargazing for Beginners, I knew that everything in the universe was made from atoms – me, you, bananas, books – but what I didn’t realise was that these atoms are basically tiny versions of huge empty spaces. Imagine an atom as a cathedral and the nucleus as a moth flitting around inside it. If it were possible to lose all the empty space, human beings, bananas and books could shrink to virtually nothing…And yet I feel so solid!
- That the first woman who went to space is called Valentina Tereshkova. Without telling her mum, Valentina joined a renowned flying club and jumped out of planes at the weekend. Her experience as a parachutist was one of the reasons she was being picked for the cosmonaut program. I think it’s likely that more people in the UK know the name of the first animal in space – Laika – than the first woman in space. I now try to drop her name into conversations wherever possible to rectify this situation.
- That when I had my first baby, I had roughly the same level of childcare skills as Meg. The first time I took my daughter out on my own, I asked the owner of a café if she thought I should change her nappy; in the middle of winter, I blew up the paddling pool and filled it with water to recreate summer (don’t do this – it makes the floor VERY slippery); and both my daughters had their own dog beds that they lounged around in. Just like Meg, I once had a terrible night when my daughter would not stop crying. In despair, I rang up NHS Direct where they politely told me that crying is what babies do.
In summary, writing Stargazing for Beginners has taught me about my insignificance in the cosmos, spelling, space heroines, and that all those hours I spent on my hands and knees picking baked beans off the floor were not wasted. Hurrah!
Science geek Meg is left to look after her little sister for ten days after her free-spirited mum leaves suddenly to follow up yet another of her Big Important Causes. But while Meg may understand how the universe was formed, baby Elsa is a complete mystery to her.
And Mum’s disappearance has come at the worst time: Meg is desperate to win a competition to get the chance to visit NASA headquarters, but to do this she has to beat close rival Ed. Can Meg pull off this double life of caring for Elsa and following her own dreams? She’ll need a miracle of cosmic proportions …
Fans fell in love with the warmth, wit, romance and fierce friendships in Flirty Dancing, Love Bomb, Sunkissed and Star Struck, and Stargazing for Beginners has all that and galaxies more. This is the best kind of real-life fiction – with big themes and irresistible characters, it goes straight to your heart.
Stargazing For Beginners is out today!!!