Nick Cook – A Ramble Through an Oxford Author's Imagination and Inspiration

Announcement of a Very Significant Moment...

Announcement of a Very Significant Moment...
"Never, never, never give up."
– Winston Churchill
You know it’s a significant day when you experience one of those moments that you’re going to remember for the rest of your life. Often the keenest moments are from one's childhood: the first time you managed to ride a bike without stabilisers, that first kiss, the moment you finished your school exams and freedom beckoned – but there are also plenty from adulthood like passing your driving test, the birth of your child, and specifically in my case, flying an aircraft solo and my first computer game number one. For me a common theme to all of these moments is that time seems to slow down, perceptions are heightened and afterwards, life is never quite the same again.

I have worked full time as a writer for seven years now and there have been many memorable moments, most significantly becoming a signed Cornerstone's author and securing the wonderful Eve White as my agent. However, the next step of a publishing deal has proved elusive. I had three near misses and on each occasion I’ve experienced a roller coaster of emotions. But my personal motto is to follow the wise words of Winston Churchill about never giving up – it also happens to be a quote that I have printed on a label by my monitor so I can see it every day. Without doubt, perseverance is one of the most important qualities you can have as a writer, especially in the current climate where it’s never been harder to get an initial breakthrough with a traditional publishing deal. 

When another rejection email/letter/phone call comes through, it sometimes feels tempting to throw in the towel and turn one’s back on writing. But here’s the thing – if you truly believe writing is what makes you tick, is what you think about when you gaze out of the window, that you find yourself casting famous actors for the film version of your book, then you really mustn’t give up. I have had to grit my teeth so many times, had to push myself to keep trying, so often that at times it’s seemed that getting a publishing deal is a task that even Hercules would find difficult to pull off (actually, maybe he would have landed a celebrity book deal). But I have always kept taking one step after another to pursue that dream of becoming a published author. Maybe I'm just stubborn.

A good friend and wonderful fellow children's writer, Lee Weatherly, once gave me a wonderful piece of advice that has always stayed with me. She told me that one day even the rejections would make sense when Cloud Riders found the publisher it truly belonged with. She said that there I would find people who would be as passionate as I am about my characters and story, and it would be at that moment my whole journey towards being published would make sense.

That moment arrived for me today at 7.15am GMT. An email landed that has changed my world, a moment where time stopped, a moment that I have worked towards for seven years, a moment that I will remember for the rest of my life. Today at 7.15am I was offered a three book contract with the new and very exciting publishing house, Three Hares, who look set to cause considerable ripples across the industry and will be a force to be reckoned with. 

The rest of this day has been a bit of a daze. It’s not often such a cherished dream comes true. I still can’t quite believe it’s happened. Maybe I’ve slipped through into one the parallel worlds that I write about, but if that’s true I have to say I rather like this new reality. It certainly feels that with this publishing deal with Three Hares, Cloud Riders has finally come home.

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Wormholes – Journeying Through Space and Time

Wormholes – Journeying Through Space and Time
“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.”
– Mark Twain
In previous articles I've mentioned parallel realities that various theories point toward, but if they really do exist is there some way you could travel between them? 

As it happens we may be in luck. In 1935 Albert Einstein and Nathan Rosen working together on the theory of gravity, came me out with the esoteric concept of a wormhole. To explain the principle of what this is, if you think of our universe as a flat plane and another reality on a plane below it, the wormhole is an effectively a tunnel that can directly link these otherwise separate realities. Now before you get too excited at the idea of an intergalactic tunnel between parallel dimensions, there are some serious technical problems that need to be addressed. 

Also, it isn’t only Einstein and Rosen who have theorised about the existence of wormholes. They crop up in quantum mechanics (the study of the very small) and scientists like Stephen Hawking have proposed that we are actually surrounded by them. Now before you started glancing nervously around worried that you may be about to be sucked into a parallel reality, let me reassure you. These sort of wormholes are infinitesimally small, tinier than even atoms, constantly forming in something called quantum foam, to link different places and even different times, before disappearing again. Now obviously these tunnels are far too small for a human to pass through (you can stop looking nervously over your shoulder now), but some scientists believe it might be possible to expand one so we could.

Another idea is that we could build huge wormhole generators in space. If the entrance was placed near the Earth, the exit could be placed next to far off stars, allowing a spaceship entering to be instantly transported to the far flung point. Alternatively, if the exit was in the same place but at a different time, it would allow instant time travel between the two gates for our space ship.

So how could we build ourselves a viable machine to create a traversable wormhole that remains stable? 

The first issue is that the wormholes are inherently unstable, try to pass through one and you are going to ripped apart when they collapse. So how could we prevent this? The answer is we need to use something that hasn’t been discovered yet and it’s been labelled negative energy. With this magic missing ingredient we could keep the walls open. Simple!

The second serious hurdle to overcome is to that to get anywhere close to a useable wormhole, an incredible amount of energy is required. How much? We are talking the power of harnessed stars. That’s quite a power bill.

So unfortunately for now in practical terms creating useable wormholes seems a way off. In the meantime we’ll just have to rely on science fiction to fire our imaginations about the possibilities of travel between parallel realities and time travel.

This excellent short video with Michio Kaku and narrated by no less than Morgan Freeman, explains wormholes further. 

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