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Gemma Malley studied Philosophy at Reading University before working as a journalist. She edited several business magazines and contributed regularly to publications including Company Magazine and The Sunday Telegraph before moving to the civil service, where she held a senior position within Ofsted, the education and care watchdog.
She is married to Mark, the head master of a preparatory school in North West London.
Q & A
What are your favourite children's books and why?
It's difficult to come up with favourites because different books were important to me at different times — I loved Enid Blyton and CS Lewis when I was younger; adored Harry Potter as soon as I read the first chapter of the first book; was completely blown away by Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, and was utterly gripped by Jennifer Donnelly's A Gathering Light. I think the most important thing in a children's book is a wonderful story, one that can completely transport you. That's why I loved reading when I was younger (and why I continue to love it now) — because every time you pull back a cover, you start a new adventure.
Who are your favourite children's authors and why?
My favourite children's authors are those who, in my opinion, make the most of the genre with great storytelling, extensive imagination, and who aren't afraid to tackle difficult and complicated subjects. Philip Pullman is certainly one, as are Meg Rosoff, Jennifer Donnelly and Jacqueline Wilson. I think that Oscar Wilde's fairy tales are also absolutely wonderful.
Who or what was your biggest influence in deciding to become a writer?
I've wanted to be a writer since I was very young — I was always writing stories, and spent the vast majority of my childhood creating imaginary lands in my head. I got a job as a journalist after university and that was a huge confidence boost — to know that someone would actually pay me to write! I always knew that I wanted to write a book — I just had to wait for the right idea to come along.
What inspired you to write your latest book?
Lots of things inspired me to write The Declaration, but the most important one was an article I read in a newspaper, which was about how scientific breakthroughs meant that within a few years, we could all be living much longer, and about a scientist who said it was the moral duty of the scientific community to do everything it could to extend the life span of humans — perhaps indefinitely. And as I read this article, I began to think that if everyone lived forever, or even for a very long time, there wouldn't be any room on the earth for us all before too long. And then I wondered if, maybe, if everyone lived forever, people would have to stop having children. That seemed to me the most appalling and horrific idea, and as soon as I'd had it, the idea of Anna came to me. Actually, she didn't just come to me as an idea — she had soon moved into my head full time and wouldn't let me rest until the book had been written.
What's the best thing you've ever written?
Probably the letter to my agent, Dorie Simmonds. It was that letter that led to my books being published instead of languishing on my computer hoping to be read by someone!
Is there any particular ritual involved in your writing process (favourite pen, lucky charm, south-facing window)?
I don't have too many rituals when it comes to writing — I sit looking out into the garden, which is lovely (and provides welcome distractions when required), and I can't even start thinking about writing until I've had a cup of hot, steaming tea. Other than that, I try to clear my mind completely, think about my characters, and then write as much as I can before my next tea break!
What is your favourite colour?
I think my favourite colour is probably yellow — it's not a colour I'd ever wear, but when I walk into a yellow room I immediately feel uplifted. It's probably because yellow is the colour of sunshine; because it's bright and bold and carefree.
What is your favourite food and worst?
I have lots of favourite foods — spaghetti bolognaise, baked potato, vegetable soup, dark chocolate with nuts, fresh figs. In the winter, I love comfort food — food that's warming and nourishing, like sausage hot pot; in the summer I can't get enough of salads and fruit (particularly strawberries and cream).
There aren't very many foods that I don't like, but liver is certainly one of them. Another is porridge — it always looks so appetizing, but when I try a spoonful it never lives up to my expectations.
Do you have a pet?
I do have a pet — a cat who invited himself in and hung around the house until eventually, having made sure that he was a stray, my husband and I adopted him. We called him 'Lodger' because my husband was convinced he'd only ever stay for a few months, but he seems to be a permanent fixture now. He loves nothing more than waiting until I'm really engrossed in my writing, then jumping up and lying across my keyboard. I don't mind, so long as his paw doesn't go anywhere near the 'delete' key…
What subject did you enjoy most as school... and least?
I loved English and History — loved stories and words. I never really enjoyed Geography — I was interested in foreign lands, but all we seemed to do was study ordinance survey maps and learn about population growth.
What is your favourite film?
That's a very tough one — I love films. I grew up watching musicals — everything from The Sound of Music to Singing in the Rain, and I still get excited by the prospect of a Sunday afternoon musical fest. I also love action films — from Indiana Jones to the Bourne Identity. But I think my favourite film is probably one called Babette's Feast, which is a beautifully filmed story about a French woman who loses everything and moves to a small Swedish village. It's a film about friendship, loyalty, acceptance… and food!
What music do you like?
I love all sorts of music. I listen to a lot of classical music — I was a keen musician when I was younger and played in lots of orchestras. I also love indie music — the Kooks are a current favourite, along with Muse and The Killers.
If you hadn't been an author, what would you have been?
I'd like to say an astronaut or an adventurer, but I think I would have ended up writing in some way — perhaps as a journalist, or perhaps working in education. I might even have become a teacher — I think working with young people and getting them excited in a book, a subject or the world around them is about the most rewarding thing you can do.
How long does it take you to write a book?
It really depends — it can take weeks, months or even years! Sometimes a book just flows out of you; other times you have to wrench it out.
Where do you get your ideas from?
I get my ideas from all over the place — an overheard snippet of conversation, the news, films… Having said that, I generally tend to have my best ideas on holiday, in the first few days when my mind is still racing but it's got nothing to focus on. It doesn't take long before my brain shuts down completely, so I have to make the most of any inspiration while it lasts!
A powerful, gripping and tense futuristic novel about a world which has gone mad, a world where life is forever except for the likes of Peter and Anna (who shouldn’t be there at all according to the declaration) who are struggling to escape the past in order to find a better future. The Declaration is a chilling, dystopian view of how life may be in the not too far off future, reminiscent of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and PD James's The Children of Men but written for a young teenage audience. It’s a novel that highlights many issues which affect us today in modern Britain: the obsession with youth and beauty; our pill-popping culture where each ailment can be remedied with some unknown chemical cure; the over-population of the earth; our age-old fear of teenage culture. The author, Gemma Malley has expressed quite brilliantly and concisely these many different issues in this ground-breaking, mesmerizing and compelling novel. To find out even more about this series click here to visit a site created by the publisher. Click here to download a document where Gemma talks about the inspriation behind the Declaration series.
This is a powerful, absolutely chilling sequel to Gemma Malley’s acclaimed debut, The Declaration. With a dark and sinister vision of the future, it is set in 2140, The Resistance is an incredibly thought-provoking read. We raved about her first novel and this one is once again beautifully written, tightly plotted, utterly compelling and completely impossible to put down.
February 2010 'new gen' Book of the Month. The Returners is a gripping and thought-provoking thriller from the author of the equally provocative futuristic novels, The Declaration and The Resistance. What happens when your past catches up with you and you don’t like what you see? This powerful novel questions how we take responsibility for our actions whilst providing an edge-of-your-seat, adrenalin fuelled read. Set in an alternate future, the gripping narrative will challenge readers to consider the role we all have to play in making our society, and asks how much we are prepared to stand up for what’s right. To find out even more about this series click here to visit a site created by the publisher. Click here to download a document where Gemma talks about the inspriation behind the Declaration series.
To survive you need people watching you, following your every move. That's the only currency now: being interesting, being liked ... And, of course, you have to update every fifteen minutes. It means everyone knows where you are, what you're doing; it means that there are no secrets... Everybody watches everyone else; nothing is hidden. And for those who fail to 'update' every fifteen minutes, the consequences are deadly. Evie and Raffy may have escaped the City but they still fear for their lives. Now the only person who can help them is Frankie, a total stranger, the most popular girl in the world, watched every second by millions of people. But Frankie has other ideas... And all the time, Lucas is waiting desperately for word from Evie, word that she is coming back to him. The conclusion to Gemma Malley's terrifyingly dark vision of our near future will leave you gasping for air.
Riveting, brilliantly imagined and passionate, THE DISAPPEARANCES, the compelling sequel to THE KILLABLES, will appeal to everyone who loved the powerful and gripping storytelling of THE HUNGER GAMES. They walked in silence onto the raised path that led to the East Gate. The closer they got, the louder the buzzing was. As they approached the gate it was almost unbearable. There was a stench in the air that made it hard to breathe, a stench that made the hair on the back of Lucas' neck stand up on end. Whatever had brought the flies here wasn't good. It's been a year since Evie and Raffy escaped the controlling regime of the City, leaving Lucas behind to rebuild the ruins of the place they once called home. And Lucas knew that once he said goodbye, Evie would be lost to him forever... But the City soon finds itself plagued by another terrifying threat: the Disappearances: teenagers who have gone missing from within the City walls, apparently vanishing into thin air. With the City at stake, Lucas has no choice but to call on his old friends - even if seeing them together is more than he can bear.
The unimaginable has happened - Longevity, the drug that is supposed to guarantee eternal youth, isn't working. A virus is sweeping the country, killing many in its wake, and Longevity is powerless to fight it. The Outside is frightened, death is suddenly a possibility and Pincent Pharma need someone to blame.The Underground are accused of deliberately contaminating a batch of the drugs and Peter and Anna are hunted down. But someone knows the truth . . . Will they speak up or watch as everything is torn to pieces? The thrilling conclusion to the brilliant dystopian trilogy that began with The Declaration. For fans of The Hunger Games.
Evil has been eradicated. The City has been established. And citizens may only enter after having the 'evil' part of their brain removed. They are labelled on the System according to how 'good' they are. If they show signs of the evil emerging, they are labelled a K . . . But no one knows quite what that means. Only that they disappear, never to be seen again . . .
When a Pincent Pharma lorry is ambushed by the Underground, its contents come as a huge surprise - not drugs but corpses in a horrible state. It appears Longevity isn't working and the drugs that are supposed to guarantee eternal youth are failing to live up to their promise. A virus is sweeping the country, killing many in its wake, and Longevity is powerless to fight it. When Richard Pincent of Pincent Pharma suggests that the Underground has released the virus, something has to be done to alert everyone to the truth and put the story straight once and for all.
The year is 2140. Peter and Anna are now living on the Outside as Legals. As an agent in the Underground, Peter is tasked with infiltrating Pincent Pharma Corporation and find out what's happening in the secret Longevity programme. Peter must feign a reconciliation and win the trust of his grandfather, Richard Pincent, one of the most powerful men on the planet, whose company, Pincent Pharma, is chasing the holy grail of modern science - a drug which will reverse ageing and make people look young again. But his grandfather has his own plans for Peter - plans which involve Peter and Anna signing the Declaration and endorsing Longevity+. Richard Pincent will stop at nothing to get what he wants, even if it means ripping Peter and Anna's new life apart. At the heart of the organisation he most despises, Peter stumbles across something more sinister than he could ever have imagined, as powerful forces are gathering to crush the young couple's dreams.
Anna Covey is a 'Surplus'. She should not have been born. In a society in which ageing is no longer feared, and death is no longer an inevitability, children are an abomination. Like all Surpluses, Anna is living in a Surplus Hall and learning how to make amends for the selfish act her parents committed in having her. She is quietly accepting of her fate until, one day, a new inmate arrives. Anna's life is thrown into chaos. But is she brave enough to believe this mysterious boy? A tense and utterly compelling story about a society behind a wall, and the way in which two young people seize the chance to break free.
Anna Covey is a 'surplus'. She should not have been born. In a society in which aging is no longer feared, and death is no longer an inevitability, children are an abomination. Like all surpluses, Anna is living in Grange Hall and learning how to make amends for the selfish act her parents committed in having her. She is quietly accepting of her fate until, one day, a new inmate arrives. Anna's life is thrown into chaos. But is she brave enough to believe this mysterious boy? This is a tense and utterly compelling story about a society behind a wall, and the way in which two young people take the chance of breaking free.