Naomi talks about her latest novel

Poet and performer Naomi Foyle brings her fiction to Chichester, with a reading from Astra, a science fantasy novel about a young warrior heroine coming of age in a post-fossil fuel world.

Brighton-based Naomi will also take questions about the book, her research and her first SF novel Seoul Survivors, in a Festival of Chichester event at Waterstones, West Street, Chichester, on Monday, July 7 at 6pm.

Naomi, an associate lecturer in the English and creative writing department at the University of Chichester, said: “Astra is growing up in what seems to be an ecological idyll. She lives in a beautiful forest in a community whose dwellings are all run by sustainable energy. Everyone is highly educated...

“It is happening in a parallel earth in a way. It could be the Middle East, but the continents have shifted because of apocalyptic changes. There have been floods, and continents have all shelved a bit, about a 100 years before. Now the world is being rebuilt. The place is like an amalgamation of various countries whose histories pertain to the story.”

The country is rebuilding on toxic land and cleaning it, but they are refusing entry to the previous inhabitants who had been evacuated from there.

“Astra is a little girl growing up. All she knows is that her country is under attack. She is living in a walled-in Eden, but as she grows, she becomes aware of the conflict.”

As for her character, she is bold, courageous, assertive, lively and clever: “But unfortunately for her, she has decided that these are characteristics that they don’t want in the community. They want people that are far less inquisitive, far more obedient...

“I discovered the world as I wrote it really. I did the technical research, a lot of research in sustainable technologies. I wanted it to be positive story in a way.

“I wanted to imagine a world where we are not dependent on fossil fuels, where maybe we all drive more slowly, but where maybe the benefits are in terms of being closer to the earth and more co-operative with each other... but at a time where maybe we have not moved fully into utopia but are still ostracising others.”

Naomi, who was born in London and grew up in Hong Kong, Liverpool and Saskatchewan, has been working at the University of Chichester for the past five years: “I enjoy it very much. I find it a very congenial department to be in. I get on with my colleagues very well. There is a strong sense of people that have been there a long time, which means that people must be happy there. It feels like people have gelled there. I am a newcomer, and I have been very much welcomed into the department. Also there is a very special emphasis in the English and creative department on fantasy, and there are a lot of poets there as well.

“I have done teaching on and off, but really I came to teaching a little bit later. I did English as a second language in Korea for a few years, and when I came back to the UK and did my post-graduate degrees, I started teaching as a freelance tutor in poetry. I do enjoy it. I think of it as a kind of facilitating, opening people to their own imagination and giving people access to lots of fantastic literature that I feel passionate about.”

Tickets for Naomi’s event are £3.50 (£3 redeemable against book purchase.