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Lucy Hawking on writing for children with her father Stephen Hawking

Lucy Hawking on writing for children with her father Stephen Hawking and a new film on their family.

Written by Nikita Puri |
Updated: December 2, 2014 12:28:38 pm
Lucy Hawking; (right) a photograph  of the Hawking family taken in 1974 — Lucy with brother Robert and parents  Jane Wilde and Stephen Hawking Lucy Hawking; (right) a photograph of the Hawking family taken in 1974 — Lucy with brother Robert and parents Jane Wilde and Stephen Hawking

Minutes before her session began on Sunday, British novelist and journalist Lucy Hawking was adding new slides to her presentation. “I recognised some of the faces as I was coming in. There are those who sat through my talk yesterday too, what if they get bored?” said the 44-year-old, who presented a talk during the seventh edition of Bookaroo, a celebration of children’s literature, at Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts.

Outside the studio space where Hawking was to present her talk, a chorus of children was badgering the volunteers. As the doors opened, Hawking’s enthusiastic audience flooded the space, making her retreat almost to the wall behind.

As the session kicked off, the room became a spacecraft captained by Hawking. The audience went on a cosmic journey with George and Annie, the protagonists of the George series authored by Lucy and her theoretical physicist and cosmologist father, Stephen Hawking.

It was in 2007, with George’s Secret Key to the Universe, that the adventure series first began, with George embarking on a voyage to outer space. “We are trying to explain complex science in the form of a simple art form. It has taken a lot of hard work and brainstorming to find a way to put information into an adventure story,” says Hawking, who has also written two books for adults — Jaded (2005) and Run for Your Life (2006).

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“Though the series allows for a very imaginative way to write, our imagination has limits because we can’t break the rules of physics. We can’t write about things that haven’t happened. For example, the children (in the series) don’t meet an alien, because we have never met an alien,” she says, adding that it’s a personal call the father-daughter duo have taken. Engaging videos from the International Space Station (ISS) pop up at intervals during her talk to keep the journey “realistic.” Fans are now waiting for the TV show inspired by the series, which will be produced by North American animation giant Nerd Corps Entertainment.

There’s no time travel in the stories. “My father doesn’t believe there’s time travel in the future, otherwise we would have had guests from the future visit us in the present,” says the Oxford graduate. Instead, she shared glimpses from their past through The Theory of Everything, a film directed by James Marsh. Soon to be released in the US, this is a biographical drama that tells the story of the Hawking family. “I’ve seen the movie once, and it made me cry. I saw the house that I grew up in, the house that was knocked down. My father enjoyed the film but since he is a physicist, he would have liked it to have more of physics,” says Lucy.

As she goes back to London, Hawking is giving serious thought to a request a 10-year-old Delhi boy made to her: “Can you please include more of anti-matter in the fourth book?”

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First published on: 02-12-2014 at 05:45:51 am

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