Malorie Blackman: ‘Othello changed into the primary thing I study that really featured a black individual’

Since Noughts and Crosses become posted 15 years ago, Malorie Blackman has been a permanent fixture in the hearts of limitless YA readers. As she releases her new ebook, Chasing the Stars, we speak to her about picture novels, saving our libraries and why she determined to set her Shakespeare tale in deep space

Former children’s laureate Malorie Blackman is one of the nation’s maximum cherished youngster authors, with an ardor for sci-fi, V for Vendetta and Shakespeare. In her new novel, Chasing the Stars, she re-imagines one of Shakespeare’s most famous performs, Othello. Rather than being set in Elizabethan Cyprus however, the motion takes location on a large space deliver, and Othello himself is not a soldier. However, a teenage girl referred to as Vee. We caught up with Malorie to find out more.

Chasing the Stars is primarily based on Shakespeare’s play Othello, why did you select Othello on your suggestion?

I constantly idea that in the future I’d do my version of Othello because I cherished the tale
Othello turned into one of my set texts at A-level, and I loved it. Othello becomes the first aspect I read that certainly featured a black character. I didn’t understand the story of Othello at all when I started out studying it, and I become shocked that he was black. I fell in love with it and me always notion that at some point I’d do my very own version, due to the fact I loved the tale. The thoughts of love, lies, loss and sexual jealousy, I concept there was so much there that I could do some thing with. I’d been sitting on the idea for the last 4 or five years but this yr is the anniversary of Shakespeare’s loss of life, and I thought it would be cute to get my ebook out within the same yr.

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Did you constantly want to set the unconventional in the area?

Not at all. When I commenced, Vee was in a boarding school in northern England. It changed into absolutely distinct. I was given to about page 30, and it just wasn’t grabbing me. I saved dreaming approximately it, and Vee stored telling me she changed into in area, not in a faculty. To be honest, I wasn’t convinced. Shakespeare in space? Really? But once I commenced on the gap path, my fingers simply flew across the keyboard. I can’t imagine her anywhere else, however, space now. I love sci-fi, but I realize that now not everybody is eager on it. Chasing the Stars is set on a star ship, but it’s approximately the relationship among Vee and the other characters. I’ve usually cherished the idea of going into the area, but the aspect approximately being on a spaceship is that it’s very claustrophobic, there’s nowhere else to head, that’s why it feels so right to me as a placing for my re-imagining of Othello.

I do suppose that we stay in a society wherein the gap among those who’ve and those who’ve no longer is getting wider.
Why do you believe you studied Shakespeare continues to be inspiring humans four hundred years later?

The easy reason is that he changed into a genius at expressing human feelings and portraying the matters we all have in commonplace: jealously, love, ambition, loss. He got it so right. For example, the group aspect of Romeo and Juliet, any teen ought to relate to those subject matters, loving a person you’re not speculated to love. Revenge and retribution in Hamlet, ambition in Macbeth. They all lend themselves to so many interpretations. I wouldn’t rule out doing more contemporary re-tellings within the future.

I desired to explore class in place of the race this time. I set it in 2164, that’s the 600th anniversary of Shakespeare’s delivery, and I concept approximately whether or not there could still be the equal preoccupations with race. I might wish now not. But I assume there’ll still be a class problem. The haves and the have nots. In Chasing the Stars, the “have nots” are known as “drones,” and they may be dealt with as nearly sub-human, deserving their misfortune for being lazy or silly. It’s a comparable rhetoric while humans say that human beings are simplest on benefits because they don’t want some thing else. That gets to me. This isn’t a prediction of ways I suppose things will come to be. However, I do suppose that we stay in a society wherein the gap among the ones who have and those who have no longer is getting wider. Now that libraries and other offerings are ultimate, in case you don’t have the resources it will be more difficult to “circulate up” the social mobility ladder. I wouldn’t be sitting right here now if it wasn’t for neighborhood libraries when I turned into developing up. We couldn’t have the funds for fiction books, we had non-fiction books however my dad notion fiction turned into a waste of time, so I spent my life inside the nearby library. And now they’re being closed left, proper and center. It breaks my heart.

Malorie Blackman
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Malorie: I wouldn’t be sitting right here now if it wasn’t for local libraries after I became growing up. We couldn’t come up with the money for fiction books, we had non-fiction books but my dad notion fiction turned into a waste of time, so I spent my lifestyles in the nearby library. And now they’re being closed left, proper and center. It breaks my coronary heart. Photograph: Nick Cunard/Rex Features
Given the novel’s proposal, some people would possibly assume race to play a key position inside the novel. However, it doesn’t. Why did you decide to transport away from that?