Author Visit: Lauren James

Science and Imagination

Heart of England has had a visit from successful science fiction writer Lauren James.  Speaking to students in groups and during a special book-signing, Lauren provided insight into how her science background and interest in writing is the perfect fusion for her work.

Lauren James during her workshop

Introducing herself to the students, Lauren related her journey from the early beginnings of writing at school to her present full-time occupation as a writer of books, editor and screenwriter.  She told the audience that she was inspired by Doctor Who when she was young and her interest in science was fired up after attending a physics symposium at University of Cambridge during Year 9 in 2009.  She later went on to study Chemistry and Physics at the University of Nottingham.

Opening to the audience, Lauren asked them to name films with lots of science in the story.  Suggestions such as Jurassic Park (DNS/cloning), His Dark Materials (dark matter/alternative universes), The Imitation Game (coding and encryption) and Don’t Look Up (meteor collision and climate change) were some that were mentioned.

Offering some practical advice on starting points, Lauren suggested looking at sites like the BBC News Science and Environment pages and picking three articles to see how they could extrapolated into a story.  She gave three examples; Homo sapiens share 2% of DNA with Neanderthals, the historical medicinal use of plants and recent discoveries about the true shape of a comet and got the students to talk to a partner and come up with ideas.

Science themes are a strong feature in the works of Laruen James with significant climate, environmental and gender motifs.  Her latest novel Rising Green is a behind-the-scenes story about why we are far from addressing the issues around climate change.  In the thriller a young climate-change activist becomes renown for being the first teenager to display a supernatural ability to grow plants from her skin.  Lauren told the students that the story grew out of the realisation that plants are much, much stranger than we thought: “Discoveries about the Wood Wide Web show how amazing they are,” she said.

Lauren James started writing at sixteen when she was taught at her school by our very own Mr Hawkins.  She wrote her first book when she was nineteen which was published when she was 22.  To date she has nine books under her belt and her next, due for publication in 2024 is to be titled Last Seen Online, a murder mystery thriller.  She also writes for television and is part of the screenwriters’ team of Netflix show Heartstopper.

Bookmarks and postcards during the signing

Stopping for break time between sessions Lauren went to the library to meet students and where there were copies of her books, postcards and bookmarks available for signing.  Staff member and organiser Ms Mansfield said, “There was a really good response from students.  Many came to the signing session who were not able to attend the talks too showing great interest in her work.  They seemed fascinated by the science aspects of what Lauren does.”

Commenting on her visit at the end of the sessions with the students Lauren said: “The Heart of England students seemed genuinely excited and had lots of ideas for stories based on science.  Some of the best I’ve heard!”

Creative Writing Competition

After the inspiring author visit from Lauren James, many are keen to get creative and write up some of the ideas you had in the workshops.  An opportunity to enter a writing competition is open to all students whether you came to a workshop or not.  All you have to do is write a short story that uses science within the plot.

Prizes include a copy of the latest book Rising Green by Lauren James, a £10 Amazon voucher and some other goodies.

The deadline for entry is Wednesday 19 April 2023.  For more information see Ms Goodwin in M 124 at break or lunchtime.

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