View from the fence

Social, environmental and economic issues surrounding GM foods, and the latest news

Book Club: Why did you decide to write a novel?

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This is one of the book club questions for my novel A Column on Smoke. Please add your thoughts in the comment section below – I will be very interested to read them.

I can’t quite remember, and looking back I’m almost surprised that I was brave enough to give it a go. When I was at junior school my career ambition was to be an author, but my English lessons in the first few years of secondary school turned me off reading and therefore writing.

It was many years before I started reading again and my interest in fiction writing started to come back.

Once I came up with the story I didn’t want to keep it all inside. I also hate the way that people against GM can be very insulting about GM scientists. I wanted to give a more realistic portrayal of university scientists and their motivations.

During my PhD I started writing and really enjoyed it, though I didn’t get very far. In 2010 I was weekly commuting to Cambridge and wanted to make the most of my evenings, so I got out what I’d written. It was terrible I didn’t use a single sentence. With the help of my writing group (Cambridge Writers) I started writing seriously. I don’t think I would have had the skills or dedication to write a novel without a writing group, and it made writing feel like a normal hobby open to everyone.

Writing allows me to use any difficult situations in my life in a very positive way, developing them into something larger which hopefully people can identify with. I like drama, when it happens to other people. So perhaps writing is a way to indulge in drama which is thankfully fairly absent from my real life.

Author: Rebecca Nesbit

I am author of a popular science book 'Is that Fish in your Tomato?' exploring the fact and fiction of GM crops. In my work and leisure so far, I have trained bees to detect explosives, used a radar to study butterflies for my PhD, written a novel, taken the train from London to China, organised Biology Week, sold science jewellery on Etsy, and traveled to four continents with Nobel Laureates. Best off all, I've made lots of friends whose support I very much appreciate. Thank you! Please visit my website:

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