Writing Wrath with Marcus Sedgwick

Writing Wrath with Marcus Sedgwick


Multi-award-winning and bestselling author Marcus Sedgwick joins us to share a little more about the inspiration for his latest novella Wrath.


I increasingly find myself to be alarmingly free of certainty. I’m not sure I started out with so very much, as a child, but I know I had some. There may have been times as a young adult when I did think I knew a few things, for sure. I was sure it was right to be a vegetarian, for example, and I knew that war was wrong. The older I have become, however, the less certain I am about anything. I don’t know if this is ‘normal’; by which I mean the way that most people tend to think as they age. I do look around me and see that many people of my age are certain about things. So certain. Angrily certain, for some reason, which makes me suspect they’re not as certain as they think they are. About politics. About all sorts of issues, on both the individual and international scales. About life.

Personally, I know I was a magical child, who believed in magical things. At least, I desperately wanted to. Then I grew up and became rather cynical and logical. For a few decades, I suppose. And now, life has won out. Things have thrown themselves at me – strange coincidences, bizarre events, apparitions even, on two occasions – that I find that life has won, and my few certainties have dropped away. I know nothing. I am sure of nothing. In this way, my mind is open, because it was broken open, and so when a friend told me that he could literally hear the Earth humming, I didn’t laugh at him, I didn’t doubt him, I just asked him what it sounded like, how long he had heard it, and did it ever stop? He answered my questions and told me about the groups of people worldwide online who say they can hear the same thing. As he spoke, I felt fairly sure I would be writing a book about this, sooner or later, and the result is Wrath, the key concept of which is a girl who can hear this vibration of the planet we live on and believes it to be our home’s way of communicating with us. And were that to be the case, would there be any doubt over what the Earth is saying to us? What it is warning us about? What it would like us to do differently? I don’t think there is any doubt as to the answers to these questions, but in the book, Cassie, the hero, is of course doubted and ridiculed by almost everyone around her, just as Cassandra of Troy was disbelieved when she foretold the deaths of everyone around her, herself included.

Why do we not want to hear the truth? The answer seems obvious – it’s too scary, and so it’s much easier either to cling to certainties of which we are absolutely sure, or, in the case of climate disaster, try to pretend the whole thing isn’t happening at all.

How to write honestly about the end of the world? How to write honestly about the end of the world for children? How to write honestly about the end of the world for children, with hope? These are the questions I have been asking myself over the last few years, and one proposed solution to this is the book I have called Wrath. It contains the acknowledgement that when we talk about the end of the world, we’re not really talking about the end of the world; we’re talking, in an anthropocentric way, about the end of us. The world itself is going to be just fine, better without us, some might say. I don’t know about that, because I know almost nothing, but I do know that Cassie ends the book determined. Determined that for as long as we are still here, we have music to make. We just have to make the right kind of music.

© Marcus Sedgwick 2022