I wrote the book in snatched half-hours after the birth of my first daughter. I chose YA and a sci-fi genre as I’ve always loved accessible books about big ideas and grew up on a diet of the two Johns – Wyndham and Christopher.
People always say write about what you know, so I wrote about the horrific stress of exams, the elevation of maths and science above more creative subjects and the focus on regurgitation of fact rather than application of knowledge. Having worked very closely with teenagers approaching exams over the last 9 years, I have seen how unfair the system is in Britain as success is as much dependent on type of school and quality of teaching as it is on natural ability. I wanted to take this stress and unfairness and heighten it to a life-or-death situation.
I also wrote this book for my first daughter, Noa. My husband and I occasionally panic about having given her such an unusual name, so I wanted her to be able to read about a cool heroine called Noa.