The motherland could be anywhere where dictatorships rule by brutality alone.
I had been doing a lot of research on the first and the second world wars when I came across the ‘what if’ history. It’s a simple idea – you take a momentous piece of history and ask what would have happened if things had turned out differently. Two good examples are to be found in the stories of Churchill, who was nearly killed by a car on Fifth Avenue, and Hitler, who was run over in Berlin before he rose to power. What would history look like if one of these men had not survived their accident?
The trigger for Maggot Moon was inspired by the Battle of Britain. There is no doubt we fought bravely, but if Goring had decided on the 29th December 1940 to send the last of his fighter pilots over, London I believe would have become an inferno, such as Dresden was to do at the end of the war. If that had happened I personally doubt that we would have held out. What saved us was something that no man has the power over – the elements. The wind changed that day and Goring worried that his pretty boys might not make it back; so he didn’t send the last of the bombers over.
More than that, behind the book is the notion that democracy and freedom are both very delicate plants that need constant tending to if they are not to be trampled into the ground by the ideals of one man or one movement. We must try to be vigilant. The motherland could be anywhere where dictatorships rule by brutality alone. I didn’t want to name the country or the state or the how it came about. I think through out the world there is more than enough examples of what can and does happen when fear becomes our rulers.
The character of Standish Treadwell, who is at the centre of the story, became almost complete when I found his name. I knew then who he was. I wanted to have a main character who was dyslexic like me, except I wanted to portray him not through bad spelling, as is so often done in literature, but through the way he thinks, and how he sees the world slightly off key. Bad spelling is, after all, only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to being dyslexic. Standish is a character that seemed so natural to write, he almost wrote himself. He is one that I love dearly.
~ Sally Gardner, September 2012