‘I could feel it coming. War, I mean. Creeping up on us, into our town, down our street, into our house. Smiling like a friend, like it was Batman come to save us when really it was the joker all along.’
I’d aways sworn I would never write about a dystopia. This world, right now, I insisted, was difficult and interesting enough. But then came Brexit, and Donald Trump, and I had a terrible sense of where the world might be heading – far, far to the right. I also felt impotent. Unable, now I no longer worked in politics, to do anything about the state of society.
But I did have some little power. I had words. Words can and have changed the world, I reasoned. And so, in a state of mainly anger, I wrote the first few pages of what would become this book, and read them aloud at a summer workshop where I taught at Bath Spa. The reaction from the audience was so strong – there were a lot of tears, and I know writers are emotional animals but this level was new even to me – I knew I had to finish it.
And here it is.
With far right Albion on the brink of war with Europe, ten-year-old Alan and his little brother Sam are sent away to safety. Dad tells Alan he has to be brave, like the superheroes he loves, but Alan isn’t sure. He wants to be wherever Dad is, and, anyway – can he really be sure who’s a hero and who’s a villain?
I hope I’ve done justice to the glory of Cornwall and the Tamar valley where my father grew up. I hope I’ve said something worth saying. And I hope, above all, that I’ve shown you some hope. Because that’s the real power of words, I think – offering hope, in a new way to live.
Joanna Nadin is a phenomenal writer, able to move in a shimmering flicker from the intellectually dazzling to the profoundly moving. No Man’s Land is as wise at it is gripping, with deep and profound resonances. A little masterpiece of emotional storytelling. (Carnegie Medal Winner Anthony McGowan)
Wonderful characters, convincing voice, gripping story – beautifully done. (Julia Green, author of The Children of Swallow Fell)
It’s terrific… well conceived and beautifully written. Real characters in an almost real world. (Fleur Hitchcock, author of Shrunk.)
Every young person should read it. It’s not only a page-turning thriller but a prescient – a necessary – story of our times. (Catherine Bruton, author of Following Frankenstein.)
Buy the book here.