Claire Fuller’s debut novel, Our Endless Numbered Days has just been published by Fig Tree an imprint of Penguin, receiving fantastic reviews from newspapers and readers alike. Claire was born in Sydenham, Oxfordshire and lived there until she was ten, when she moved to Thame and went to Lord Williams’s School. She now lives in Hampshire and ran a small marketing company for many years. But when she was forty she began writing short stories and then studied for an MA in Creative and Critical Writing at the University of Winchester.
‘I’ve been so surprised and delighted by the success of Our Endless Numbered Days,’ says Claire. ‘It’s being published in nine countries, the reviews in the papers have been excellent, and the readers who have been in touch with me seem to love it. It’s quite a surreal moment to go into a bookshop and see the novel I wrote sitting on a shelf.’
Our Endless Numbered Days is the story of Peggy Hillcoat, who in 1976, when she is eight is taken by her father to a remote European forest. When they arrive he tells Peggy the rest of the world has disappeared and they are the only two survivors. She believes him and the two of them live in the forest for nine years, surviving the harsh winters by living on squirrels and rabbits. The novel is not so much about whether Peggy makes it home – readers know from the start that she does, since Peggy tells the story from her mother’s London house when she is seventeen – but how she makes it home and why she comes back when she does.
‘The idea for the book came from a news story that hit the headlines in 2011,’ says Claire. ‘A teenager appeared in Berlin saying that he had been living in the Germany forests with his father for the previous five years. He claimed that his father had died in an accident. Everyone believed him; he was supported by the German social services, the forests were searched, but no body was found. It turned out that the boy, Robin van Helsum, was lying and had in fact run-away from his home. But his story started me thinking, what if he and his father really had lived in the forest, what might have taken them there, how would they have survived, and why might Robin have come back when he did?’
Claire has been doing various appearances around the country, talking at events and reading from her book, including at The Book House in Thame on 2nd April. ‘My father moved back to Thame a few years ago, so it’s lovely to return to the town I lived in when I was growing up. I’m really enjoying meeting people who have read my book. Book groups are especially fun, when we can have an in-depth discussion about all the details. It’s very interesting to find out what readers think about the twist at the end without having to worry about revealing any spoilers.’
Our Endless Numbered Days is available from The Book House in Thame, Waterstones and Blackwells in Oxford, and online via Amazon.co.uk