Tramadol Order Overnight Shipping Online Tramadol Cod Tramadol Online Overnight Usa Tramadol Order Cheap

Q&A with Maggie GeeSharon Eckman

Maggie Gee
+ posts

Maggie Gee is the author of seventeen acclaimed books, which have been translated into more than fifteen languages. These include her novels The Flood and The White Family (shortlisted for the Orange and IMPAC prizes), and a memoir, My Animal Life. A Fellow and Vice-President of the Royal Society of Literature and a Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, Gee was awarded an OBE in 2012 for her services to literature. She lives in Ramsgate.

Professor Maggie Gee speaks to Writers Rebel’s Sharon Eckman about her new book The Red Children, released today, and how it might inspire wider understanding and action around climate change. Read on for some extracts from the book.


SE: You said that you wanted to write an ‘upbeat, funny novel’ about climate change, which seems a pretty big ask. Could you expand on this? You describe it as a fable; are you aiming (and hoping) to engage readers in a different way?

MG: Yes indeed, The Red Children is a fable or as I sometimes think, a fairy-tale for adults. It enlists the aboriginal and ‘uncontacted peoples’ of the world in a carnival of opposition to the anti-life developers. I hope my viewpoint on life – I find it absurd and endlessly fascinating – makes it funny, and the happy ending (of sorts) makes it upbeat. I agree that ‘funny and upbeat’ sounds odd when we’re talking about climate change – but maybe it’s time to try talking in a different way. 

What can novelists offer the climate crisis? We’re not quite like journalists and scientists who are doing amazing work recording and spreading factual reports about climate change. At the beginning of my interest in the issue, back in the eighties and more strongly in the nineties, I thought my job, as one of the first novelists who took climate change seriously, was to imagine it and make it painfully real for the readers as a warning, using all the knowledge at my disposal. So I wrote books like Where are the Snows (1990) and The Ice People (1996), set in the future, and then a more mythic book, The Flood (2004), which was nevertheless inspired by the real floods that swept Europe in the preceding years. 

In 2022, however, as the real crisis gets worse, I am aware of how many people’s minds have become anaesthetised by fear and boredom in the face of something unfathomably big. If you keep hitting a stick in the same place on the same door, sometimes the people behind it just defend it more strongly, or retreat further inside. In The Red Children, the most important thing for me was to inspire readers by showing human beings who manage to find their best selves and thus move towards a more hopeful future. It’s a fable because it’s easier to show things going well in fable or fairy-tale form. Hans Andersen taught us unforgettable truths about politicians and leaders in many of his fables, including The Emperor’s New Clothes. His little child is the one who dares to speak the truth out loud: despite the praise of fashionable folks and the lies of dishonest tailors, the Emperor is stark naked. Our humorous selves, the selves who laugh, sometimes pierce to truths our serious adult selves can’t see.


SE: Covid changed many lives in many ways. You say that your breakthrough with The Red Children came during lockdown. Are you able to tell us more? 

MG: Yes. This book is also about migration and refugees – my refugees look very strange when the first four are found, naked and laughing, one January morning on the quay in Ramsgate, where a kindly passer-by thinks they are drunk. They are, in fact, Neanderthals, driven out of the deep caves where they have survived for millennia, by heat, then fleeing northwards, and landing up in Kent (where Neanderthal people did, in fact, once live.) Though Neanderthals are always attributed to, and named for, the Neander Valley in Germany, the truth (the real, historical truth, not my fictional truth!) is that the first Neanderthal skull was found in Gibraltar, but not recognised as such until much later. By a historical irony, Neanderthal Man was the name given to Gibraltarian Woman. I meant to set my book in Gibraltar but lockdown made travel impossible and so it became more magical, more political perhaps, and funnier when I set it instead near me in Kent. That gave me the theme of migration. It fits well because in prehistory, Neanderthals were among the many peoples whose range moved with changing climate.


SE: There is some beautiful, elegiac writing about the natural world. Did that emerge from an enhanced awareness of the non-human world during the pandemic? 

I always love nature – which sounds banal, but I have loved it with a passion ever since youngest childhood when we used to walk over the fields between Stony Stratford and Wolverton, from one set of grandparents to the other. We always lived in the country – I only left it when I went to university – and even in the decades when I lived in London, looking back at the only time I kept a diary consistently, the pages were full of the flowers and trees in suburban gardens and the local parks. The random and wonderful world of other living things offers me an escape from the constructed world of human beings. All my books are full of nature. However, the fear and silence of lockdown did give a special intensity to blackbirds singing, the coming of cherry-blossom, the wide freedom of beach and sea – we can clearly see the coast of France here at the end of day when the sunset light strikes it and Brexit plus lockdown invested that sight of golden distant cliffs and tiny buildings with peculiar longing.


SE: The Red Children is full of empathy across multiple perspectives, and it celebrates the importance of community. Do you think community is the key to changing the way we live in the Anthropocene? 

MG: I do, though as a writer I’m quite solitary. But my friends, husband, daughter and her partner matter to me so much. I do feel Ramsgate is a truly friendly, sociable and un-class-conscious place. No-one is that well-off (or, if so, I never met them!) which means, maybe, there are fewer barriers. The quote I put at the beginning of the book comes from Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford: ‘To be sure, what a town Cranford was for kindness’. I feel it’s equally true of Ramsgate. In The Red Children, when climate change refugees arrive, that kindness is tested. There’s a much wider feeling of community in the novel too: the community of living DNA. All living beings are very closely related, from a lettuce to a tortoise to us, and all of us will be affected by climate change – so we have to spread the nets of love and responsibility much more widely than at present.


SE: Magical talking ravens have a crucial role to play in your story. You have spoken about the need to accept that animals have autonomy and consciousness, and are indeed kin to us. Where do you think we stand now? 

I think science has got radically better over the past two or three decades at recognising that non-human animals have emotions and consciousness. Pet-owners and animal-lovers always knew this, of course. The gradual move towards eating less, or no, meat is part of this. We have been more stupid than earlier human beings in denying agency and intelligence to animals, so it’s a very late awakening. I satirise it by showing the same prejudice in reverse: Roland the Raven is sure that human beings have no actual language – it’s obvious to him that humans just make ‘a series of sounds’, while human writing is just random marks on paper.  The Red Children is a celebration of what is still here, in all its multifaceted glory and richness. I do sometimes say this to students – ‘Don’t forget to enjoy nature for yourselves as well as protesting against its destruction.’ Experiencing life among other living beings is a profound experience which energises activism, gives health and encourages hope. 


SE: I was particularly struck by how often The Red Children references the Climate and Ecological Emergency with light, throwaway touches, as your previous novels have tackled it more directly. In the face of global inaction, and the increased traction of the anti-Net Zero lobby, is there a reason you chose this approach? 

MG: Humour and imagination are good weapons in the face of disaster, as any medical student knows. My instinct told me that was where to go. And when you’re writing, instincts take over from issues. 



From The Red Children by Maggie Gee


The first Red people came over by sea.

Once upon a time, Ramadan Baqri, a seventeen-year-old Sea Cadet, arriving at the harbour early to hoist the colours just after the January sun had risen, found them sitting, damp and large and red and shaking with cold, on the edge of the quay, four of them, shivering and laughing. They looked up in wonder at the rising sun to the east, then turned their heads to peer west, over the bright cross-hatched lines of the masts of the yachts, at Ramsgate. 

Did they ever explain how they came to be here? At any rate, we soon knew. At first it was just one word, once the Red people learned it in English, repeated over and over, with a gesture across the sea to where they had come from, as they shivered in our briefly icy English January. 

Heat. They were running away from the heat. 




Something strange happened not so very much later on Ramsgate’s West Cliff. A thirty-four-year-old Afghan called Arash, hunched in jumpers, setting up by the beach-side railings to catch whiting on his day off, happened to be watching. 

The tunnel mouth in the cliffs, far below the pine-tree where the ravens live, is tall and high, big enough for heavy lorries. It’s a long way west of Ramsgate’s harbour and the Lifeboat station, beyond and below the Pugin house and the grand but neglected Georgian terraces (five storeys high) that face south to the sunshine, beyond the 1920’s marina with its pale balustrades. To the landward side of the tunnel are pampas grass, succulents, palms. To the seaward side of the road is a narrowing pavement, grey steel rails, grey sea, and over the waves, low on the horizon, Europe. 

A group of figures walked out of the black into January sunshine, five abreast, their faces bright with hope as the light hit their faces, shouting ‘To bien … Alhamdulillah!’ (Meaning ‘Thank God,’ Arash knew, because Arabic was one of the languages he had learned as a boy in the madrassa, before his mother snatched him and his brother away.) 

A bright frieze of men and children were coming towards him in a blaze of gold. Malaikah, angels, Arash thought, suddenly a child again remembering his lessons, they are angels of light, fresh released from darkness. The figure in the middle was taller than his companions, and behind that group, others vanished into the shadows. The tall one had flaming red-gold hair. He stretched his arms up to the sky, like wings, then the others copied. 

Angels? Arash frowned them into clarity. They were quite solid, he saw. Oddly big heads. The tallest one was dressed old-fashioned-English, jacket, even tie – though they couldn’t be English, they were putting their arms round each other and laughing, now. Then something happened that made him want to laugh as well: one of them, a dark-haired lad in a bright red tee-shirt, ran a few steps, then suddenly turned into a flashing succession of arms and legs Arash realised were cartwheels, coming back to his feet and strolling nonchalantly onwards, and the others clapped and cheered. Then the tall one held his spread hands up to heaven again. 

Malaikah, Arash thought once more. Angels from elsewhere. The tall one was walking towards him. 

After long loneliness – even in the Great Betrayal, few Afghans had ever come here – Arash was ready to make friends. 




There had to be a meaning and a pattern, the Professor thought, as they emerged from the mouth of the tunnel into daylight. Just for a second he turned and looked back: as the photos on the internet had shown, it was identical, in all but a few tiny particulars, to the mouth of the tunnel at home. ‘Like moves to like: likeness in difference makes love.’ Just as he had written in his notebooks. 

He took a deep breath of chilly air, milagroso, miraculous, muejazaten, and raised his hands to the English heavens. ‘Alhamdulillah!’And thanked the earth which had released them. 

Glory to God, glory to the universe, glory to the echoes and likenesses that bind the world together. Glory to the great net of mirrors which reaches out to the constellations, from the dark scuttling scorpions in sand to the far pale Scorpion of stars. Glory to the Twins who hide their white flame behind the blue sky of Ramsgate and the blanker blue sky of home; glory to the feelings all living things tremble with, similar, similar, he’s smiling and throwing out his arms, his hands, his long musical fingers, the antennae of his light-rinsed nerves. 

They will like us, here, I think.

Glory to light. To the intricate wonders of golden string which hold the world together. To the sun, which gives life and burns it away.  But not yet, the Professor prays. Let us live




Once they had enough English, some of the Red children told their classmates that they’d lived underground until heat drove them up to the surface. But they didn’t like being questioned, even when their English improved. Questions made them laugh and walk away. There were always mysteries that fell through the tunnels of language, questions blocked by invisible doors. The tale that they’d lived underground was hard to believe. When a few schoolchildren took it home, their parents dismissed it. 

To be fair, since the virus and global warming, everything was hard to believe. ‘The world’s gone mad,’ people said in the streets. Could whole species, really, go extinct? If so, could we?  ‘I want grandkids,’ hard-faced blonde women with all-year-round tans complained, drinking prosecco as they shivered and smoked outside the pubs. 

The Red people, at first, seemed like a rumour, because most people had never seen one. And then, among those so inclined, they became a focus for discontent.


Maggie Gee is the author of seventeen acclaimed books, which have been translated into more than fifteen languages. These include her novels The Flood and The White Family (shortlisted for the Orange and IMPAC prizes), and a memoir, My Animal Life. A Fellow and Vice-President of the Royal Society of Literature and a Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, Gee was awarded an OBE in 2012 for her services to literature. She lives in Ramsgate.



Individuals can make a difference by walking, especially with children. Show children they can walk almost anywhere. They will see life and nature and other living beings, and walking makes you warmer, so you don’t need so much heating. Also, buy everything you can from charity shops and never believe in brands – they are the real Emperor’s New Clothes.