Heather Child


Lockdown lonesomeness, hope and isolation

I’m sure many writers have found that during lockdown they are pulled two ways.

On the one hand, there is no FOMO to stop you writing, because nothing is going on anyway. Everyone in the world is having to hunker down at home, as you do normally. Surely you were born to ride out this pandemic, at double your normal rate of productivity… or so goes the theory.

On the other hand, there is too much craziness to concentrate, you’re worried about the day job, elderly relatives, book promotion, Dominic Cummings and the world in general.

Writing in the garden

I’ve continued to write, but have not been as productive as expected. There has been less creative stimulation, and more anxiety. My drinks cupboard has certainly taken a hit.

But work on book three continues… and I found time to write a story for a lovely anthology published by Storgy books.

The anthology is titled – comfortingly – You Are Not Alone, and profits go to support the most vulnerable people in our society. You can help Shelter, Big Issue and other charities by grabbing a copy here.

Deep in the forest… I visited a book club

Earlier this week I braved the flooding to head into the Forest of Dean, where I was warmly welcomed by the Newnham Readers group, a book club set up by local librarian Margaret Ellis.

The group chose The Undoing of Arlo Knott as their February read, and I went along to hear what they thought of it. I’d already been told that they never all agreed on a book one way or another…

Luckily they had mostly good things to say!

There were lots of comments about Arlo being driven by his own ego through much of the book, and what kind of person he eventually becomes. Surprisingly, there were also quite a range of interpretations of what happens at the end.

I also heard some interesting new ideas about the snake…

That’s the benefit of hearing from different book groups: it reminds you that reading is a hugely subjective experience. As a writer, all you can do is frame the story; what people see in it will always vary.

With thanks to Newnham Readers for a very pleasant evening (and to Maggie for the amazing lasagna!)

If you are a book club in the Westcountry and would like me to attend your event, please get in touch.

A bookish autumn

There have been so many book events over the last couple of months I’ve hardly been able to keep up! Needless to say it’s been great reading from The Undoing of Arlo Knott to new audiences, and getting into a lot of interesting chats with readers about the nature of time, quantum physics, snakes, superheroes and much more!

So what’s been happening?

Dragons and AI at Bristol con

In October I was at Bristol con, where it was lovely to see Gareth Powell as the guest of honour, plus a few more familiar faces. As well as two panels and a reading I ran ‘The Forest of Forking Paths’ workshop, in which we co-created our own adventure story. Being a fantasy crowd, a dragon got involved fairly quickly…

Super Relaxed Fantasy Club

Last night I was in London at the fabulous Super Relaxed Fantasy Club. Such a brilliant evening with a warm, friendly crowd and great readings from Paul Cornell and M.R. Carey – who gave us an exciting glimpse into his brand new and highly intriguing Book of Koli.

Tales of our city and more

This autumn we had another excellent Bristol Festival of Literature. My writers group Writers Unchained ran the ‘Tales of Our City’ spoken word evening, and we also had a stall at the Arnos Vale book fair.

What does the internet know about you?

Last but not least, Bishopston Library in Bristol kindly invited me to talk about Everything About You and dive into some topics of AI deep fakery, big data and the internet of things. A great crowd (and a library well worth checking out for its impressive range of events).

Read at your own risk: Heroes and Villains

Get your tickets here

We’re seemingly surrounded by villains and in desperate need of heroes. But how do authors create them and what can we learn from these timeless archetypes?

Day: Wednesday 16th October

Time: 7:30pm

Venue: Max Minerva’s, 39 North View, BS6 7PY

Tickets: £3 (redeemable on purchase of a book)

About the authors

Heather Child’s latest novel, The Undoing of Arlo Knott, came out in August this year and was a Guardian book of the month. It tells of Arlo, who develops the mysterious ability to reverse his last action, making him better at life and able to experience anything without worrying about the consequences. But as he discovers, second chances aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

Robin Etherington is one half of the Etherington Brothers, the author of five Long Gone Don adventures and the creator eight book-length Von Doogan puzzle adventures for The Phoenix. He’s also written for Star Wars, Transformers, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon. His new book, How to think when you write, is set to break Kickstarter records when it comes out in October.

Get your tickets here

What do the reviewers think of Arlo Knott?

Arlo himself may have raised some eyebrows, but in general (and to my delight) the blog tour was bursting with positive reviews. Check out a few of them below…

“Child’s second novel, following the successful Everything About You, combines compassion and a fascinating premise to produce a moving time-slip romance . . . The Undoing of Arlo Knott is a triumph”


“The end reveal just took my breath away” **** – Shalini’s Books and Reviews

“One of the most intelligent and readable high concept British novels of the last ten years” – Starburst Magazine

“One of my favourite reads so far this year” – Runalong the Shelves

“This is a breathtaking book […] I hesitate to use clichés like ‘unputdownable’ but this is a book that is very easy to keep reading and reading”

Blue Book Balloon

“The Undoing of Arlo Knott is a masterpiece” ***** – A Novel Journey

“I love this book […] I implore you to read it” – The Fantasy Inn

“I am still thinking about it days, and weeks, later” ***** – Marciano’s Missing Millions

“Beautiful and unique, The Undoing of Arlo Knott is a book I would recommend” – Cal Turner Reviews

“Clever, fascinating, interesting and very different” **** – Alex J Book Reviews

“A totally different read, constantly twisting and turning – perfect for Summer holidays” – Roachie’s Reviews

“Very intelligent speculative fiction with a clever science twist” – Liz Loves Books

“This will be a must read for Book clubs everywhere” – The Bookwormery

“A real gem of a book” – Bibliophile Book Club

“A great book club read” – Over the Rainbow Book Blog

“If you want something different to read, this is such a beautiful book” – Bookish Blogging by Hannah

“A brilliantly written and clever novel. It shocks and amuses and it has so many twists and unexpected developments” – For Winter Nights

“There’s a surprise in the end” **** – Varietats


Thanks again to Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for organising Arlo’s blog tour.

Arlo hits the high street

Arlo Knott is finally out in the world, having been launched at a sell-out event at Storysmith Books, Bristol.

With fabulous hosting from Hugo award-winning sci-fi critic and publisher Cheryl Morgan, we talked about having an undo button for life, plus the power of hindsight, quantum physics and snakes and ladders.

The room was packed and the shop ran out of books. Huge thanks to everyone who came and made it such a wonderful launch.

Arlo goes to MCM Comic Con Manchester

This weekend past, I was with Alison Littlewood up at MCM Manchester, talking to a packed audience about how to set a novel with fantastical elements in the real world.

A highlight was Michael Rooker – of Guardians of the Galaxy – checking out Everything About You at the Author corner (he’s Mary Poppins, y’all!).

Book Launch: Five things you won’t regret

Finally The Undoing of Arlo Knott is hitting bookshops, and where better to launch it than the fabulous Storysmith books in Bristol? I’ll be talking to Cheryl Morgan of Wizard’s Tower press on the themes of the book, and on ‘Five things you won’t regret’ (according to Arlo Knott!)

Heather Child: The Undoing of Arlo Knott

Thursday 1st August, 6:30pm, £5 (includes a glass of wine and 10% off featured books)

Arlo Knott develops the mysterious ability to reverse his last action. It makes him able to experience anything, to charm any woman and impress any friend. His is a life free of mistakes, a life without regret.

Come along and enjoy some literary chit chat with a glass of wine… you won’t regret it!


Cheryl Morgan is a Hugo Award-winning publisher and science fiction & fantasy critic. She owns and runs Wizard’s Tower Press. Cheryl is also a co-host of the Women’s Outlook show on Ujima Radio. You can read more about her at Cheryl’s Mewsings and follow her on Twitter as @CherylMorgan.


At last, the beautiful cover of my new book is out in the world!

The designer, Ellen Rockwell of Orbit UK, has done an amazing job capturing the surreal, heightened reality of Arlo’s life. The snake is reminiscent of what he grapples with, his powerful, fabulous ego, and the scales seem to disintegrate almost as though some of his peculiar power to ‘undo’ things has leached into the image.

I really like the pizzazz and glamour of this cover, and think it perfectly captures the spirit of the book.

EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU – Paperback Launch This Week!

Gone Girl for the VR generation . . . when the book is released ask Alexa to order you a copy. But be careful she doesn’t read it before you do, she may just tell the delivery drone that we’re onto them. 


The paperback of Everything About You is finally here! It will be launched at Foyles bookshop in Bristol, on Thursday 21st February – come along and enjoy a lively evening of speculative fiction.

Freya has been lucky enough to get hold of a virtual assistant which knows everything about her and will fulfil her every desire. But there is something strange about its voice…

Futures Far and Near: Gareth L. Powell and Heather Child in Conversation

This is a joint book launch with Gareth L. Powell, author of the acclaimed Embers of War, a thrilling space opera featuring living ships, sentient forests, compelling characters and big questions about the nature of war. He will be launching the sequel, Fleet of Knives, at this event.

I’ll be talking about Everything About You, the future that is just around the corner, and how much control we are happy to concede to AI and automation technologies. What’s the worst that could happen, should you hand over your decision-making to an intelligence smarter than your own?

In these times of huge uncertainty, and with Brexit just around the corner, questions of identity loom large, and science fiction is perhaps the only clear lens we have with which to examine them.

Don’t miss out! Join us on Thursday 21 February, 7.30pm – 9.00pm.

Foyles bookshop, Cabot Circus, Bristol.


Discover it… before it discovers you


Small publishers gather in Bath

This weekend I was in Bath with Writers Unchained, meeting lots of other writers’ collectives, small presses and other creatives.

It was a good chance for all the publishers based in the Westcountry – like Tangent Books, Wizard’s Tower Press and Silver Crow Books – to come together, get to know one another and share their wares with the public.

MCM Comic Con London

This will be my second appearance at MCM Comic Con at London’s excel centre. This is where I’ll be if you want to say hello:


14:00pm – 14:45pm – Creator Stage: Literary Young Guns – Writing a novel is tough work. Getting one published is even tougher. Join Moderator and debut author Tade Thompson (Rosewater) Tasha Suri (Empire of Sand) Leo Carew (The Wolf) Heather Child (Everything About You) Nick Setchfield (The War in the Dark) and Jeanette NG (Under the Pendulum Sun) as they discuss their journey from finished novel to publication

14:30pm – 15:00pm – Forbidden Planet SIGNING – Steven Erickson (Rejoice) Marieke Nijkamp (Before I Let Go) Tim Pratt (The Wrong Stars) Nicholas Eames (Bloody Rose) Heather Child (Everything About You)

18:00pm – 18:45pm – Creator Stage: Sci-Fi Scribblings – The field of science-fiction is filled to the brim with variety, from space operas to hard science.  Science-fiction authors Claire North (84K) Jamie Sawyer (The Lazarus War Series) Tim Pratt (The Wrong Stars) Heather Child (Everything About You) Tom Toner (The Tropic of Eternity) as they discuss what makes great science-fiction.


12:00pm – 12:45pm – Creator Stage: Orbit Presents – Orbit Authors Nicholas Eames (Bloody Rose) Tasha Suri (Empire of Sand) Mike Carey (The Girl with All the Gifts) Tade Thompson (Rosewater) Heather Child (Everything About You) RJ Baker (King of AssassinsStephen Aryan (Mage Born) talk all things Orbit

13:00pm – 13:30pm – Forbidden Planet SIGNING – Mike Carey (The Girl with All the Gifts) Nicholas Eames (Bloody Rose) Tade Thompson (Rosewater) Tasha Suri (Empire of Sand) RJ Baker (King of Assassins) Heather Child (Everything About You)

Everything About You featured on BBC Radio 4

A lovely surprise to find Everything About You mentioned on BBC Radio 4’s Open Book as one of Peter F. Hamilton’s top six science fiction books. Peter F. Hamilton is the bestselling author of numerous sci-fi novels including the Greg Mandel series and the Night’s Dawn trilogy.

Everything About You was one of the more contemporary books among his six choices, a look forward to the data age when the internet knows everything about everyone.

You can listen to the show here (with the book mentioned at 23:04) https://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/play/b0bgw8c6

Everything about you on the radio - record player


Talking AI at the Dystopian Book Club

James Smythe’s dystopian novel I Still Dream, is also about an artificial intelligence, and deals with many of the same themes as Everything About You. Thus it was no problem launching into a lively and in-depth AI debate when I joined him in London – along with Rachel Heng, author of Suicide Club – at the Dark Societies dystopian book club. 

One topic that seemed to strike a particular chill in the audience was the idea of AI clones of people being able to continue their lives after death. We discussed the (now defunct) @LivesOn Twitter service, which would digest a person’s tweets and then continue to interact as they would, even after they are gone. 

It was a great event, marred only by having to compete with the World Cup semi-final… which really separated out the true fans of sci-fi fiction! 

Everything About You – launch!

Launch day!

Everything About You finally hit the shelves today, and signings took place at Goldboro books in London and Forbidden Planet London and Bristol.

Everything About You



Starburst gives the book a thumbs-up

Everything About You has received its first review, by Tony Cowin of Starburst Magazine, and what a corker it is too.

Everything About You in Starburst

Everything About You is more than a Gone Girl for the VR generation, however. It’s a deep look at how technology is overtaking more complex threads of our lives. Everything from work to easing decision anxiety. It’s a future where you don’t even have to ask a question because Smartface knows what you need even before you do.

Read the full review here: https://www.starburstmagazine.com/reviews/everything-about-you



Exclusive Cover Reveal of Everything About You in Sci-fi Now


Everything About You by Heather Child exclusive cover reveal!


The new title for Smartface is Everything About You

We are becoming more familiar with the idea that we are products online, our identity bundled up to allow advertisers to target us with ever-increasing precision.

The smartface takes this a step further: knowing everything about you as the prerequisite to giving you exactly what you want, in every aspect of your life, now and in the future. You can sit back, relax, and leave the decision-making to a system that knows you better than you know yourself.



PRESS RELEASE  |   18 May 2017

Little, Brown Book Group imprint Orbit is delighted to announce the acquisition of Smartface, an exceptional debut by Bristol-based author Heather Child.

Senior commissioning editor Jenni Hill acquired world rights in two crossover novels from Julie Crisp of the Julie Crisp Literary Agency, and Smartface will be published by Orbit in summer 2018.

It tells the story of a woman whose virtual assistant takes on the personality of her missing sister – shedding new light on a missing persons case from years before.

Exploring the blurred lines between reality and fantasy, this high-concept thriller examines what happens when smart becomes too smart, when people accumulate so much data online that they can be recreated as data ghosts and lives can be changed by the information they’ve left behind.

Heather Child says: ‘With intelligent assistants like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa becoming commonplace, I wanted to look at what might happen if we willingly handed over control of our lives to algorithms that know us better than we do ourselves. It’s hugely exciting to be working with Orbit on this data-ghost story.’


Julie Crisp says: ‘Heather’s visionary tale of futuristic technology set against the emotional tale of a girl’s search for her lost sister is a brilliant fusing of high-concept ideas with a commercial storyline. With Orbit’s success with authors such as Claire North and M. R. Carey, they are the perfect home for this exciting new author.’


Jenni Hill says: ‘Smartface is a startlingly brilliant and probably (worryingly) quite accurate vision of the future, with completely engaging characters who simply carried me through the novel from beginning to end in record time. The book is so accomplished it is difficult to believe it is a debut, and I know that readers, reviewers and booksellers will be likewise blown away by the talent on show here.’

About Heather Child

Based in Bristol, Heather Child received AHRC funding for an MA in Writing at the University of Warwick in 2008, working with writers including Maureen Freely, Rebecca Abrams and China Miéville. Her work has appeared in a range of literary magazines including Mslexia, the Storgy 2014 Short Story Anthology and Under the Radar online. She is a communications professional and former chartered marketer. Her work on digital marketing has brought her into close contact with the cutting-edge automation and personalisation technologies that herald the ‘big data’ age. Smartface is a debut novel.

About Little, Brown Book Group

Four-time winner of the Publisher of the Year Award, most recently in 2014, Little, Brown is one of the UK’s most successful and diverse publishers. Our thirteen imprints consist of: Abacus; Atom; Blackfriars; Constable; Corsair; Fleet; Hachette Digital; Little, Brown; Orbit; Piatkus; Robinson; Sphere and Virago. Little, Brown Book Group has been part of the Hachette UK group since 2006. Further information can be found at www.littlebrown.co.uk.

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