Books: Killer T by Robert Muchamore
PUBLISHED: 17:49 04 October 2018
The top YA author pens a stand alone love story set in a near future where gene editing technology is used as a terrorist threat
Robert Muchamore is among the biggest names in YA fiction with hit series including Cherub, Henderson’s Boys and Rock Wars.
Now for his 29th book the Crouch End author has penned a stand alone love story, set in a near future where genetic modification has taken a sinister turn.
Spanning 10 years, Killer T (Hot Key Books) centres on the unsentimental pairing between lonely Brit Harry in his first term at a Las Vegas high school and Charlie, who is accused of blowing up a star football player.
In a world where gene-editing is used to beat cancer and enhance academic performance, the technology becomes a deadly weapon in the wrong hands as terrorists create a deadly synthetic virus - then demand a billion dollars for the antidote.
“After doing so many series, it was a big change to write a beginning a middle and an end with no threads that carry on,” says Muchamore.
“I didn’t have the liberty of sewing a seed then reaping it three books later.”
Muchamore took inspiration from his own favourite YA books; Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses and Junk by Melvin Burgess.
“Both are epic stories that follow a teenage couple as they change over several years. Killer T is my attempt to follow Charlie and Harry’s relationship as gene editing technology starts radically altering the world in which they live. It’s a kids spy book set in a very near future world that is still recognisable to readers. But this world really starts to change”
Muchamore, who grew up in Junction Road, Tufnell Park and went to Acland Burghley, has based the book on real technology that allows scientists to cut up genes “like a pair of scissors.”
“CRISPR has made it far easier to precisely edit genes and move them around,” he says.
“There hasn’t been a lot about it on the news so people don’t understand how this technology is going to change our lives.”
Killer T, he explains, is a type of white blood cell that controls your immune system.
“Terrorists release a virus that destroys your T Cells, it’s a giant blackmail plot.”
As a 46 year old writing for teenagers he knows he probably has more in common with their parents, and stays in touch with younger folk to get his facts right.
“As an older author you have to consciously get into the head of a 14-year-old and think; ‘is this something a kid would find funny?’ I don’t have kids myself so I rely on friends with kids to give me the slang and the fashion, it’s important to be conscious of all that stuff.”
He adds, “Whenever I am thinking of new stories I always have this balance. I want the books to be about things that happen in the real world, but I also what them to be an engaging read. My priority is for them to enjoy it, if it’s also thought-provoking that is great.”
With parents still living in Holloway and former school friends around the corner, Muchamore is thoroughly settled in Crouch End.
“It would be very hard to leave.”