I’m delighted to be welcoming Hannah Hopkins today who is chatting to us about Space Academy as part of Rachel’s Random Resources tour.
Space Academy by Hannah Hopkins is available to purchase in digital and paperback formats.
It’s the year 2100. Earth is dying. A young woman, Elsie, has risked everything to get her newborn son, Will, aboard ‘The Mayflower’ – a spaceship that will transport a select number of people to a new planet they can call home. Elsie’s luck takes a turn when she discovers the captain of ‘The Mayflower’ is an old friend. He allows her to board with her son, giving them a place on the luxurious Floor One, where they live amongst the most honoured of ‘The Mayflower’s’ passengers.
Thirteen years later, and Will is ready to start school at Space Academy, an institute specialising in subjects such as Alien Studies, Technology, and Rocket Control. While a pupil there, Will starts to uncover secrets about his father’s death, becoming wrapped in a mystery that he and his friends must solve if they are to have any hope of saving humanity from the threat that lies in wait.
Lose yourself in this brilliantly addictive novel as it takes you on a journey through the stars. But be warned – you might be surprised by what you find.
Hi Hannah, welcome to Jera’s Jamboree.
Please summarise Space Academy in 20 words or less.
It’s the year 2100 and Earth is dying. A small selection of humanity is journeying to a new world.
What was the idea/inspiration for your novel?
The idea was born out of an escape fantasy. I had a lot of anxiety about what was going on in the world when I started writing it. It comforted me to imagine life continuing after Earth is gone. Once I came up with the idea of The Mayflower (the huge vessel carrying a small portion of humanity to a new world) my imagination ran away with itself!
Please tell us about the characters in your book
The story centres around the characters of Will, Emily, Finley, and Lois.
Will is the protagonist. His mother, Elsie, smuggled him onto The Mayflower as a baby. She was almost caught in the act, but her friendship with the captain, Alfie, saved her from being taken down by the guards. Will’s father died when he was young in mysterious circumstances, and he begins to piece together the truth when he attends the prestigious Space Academy; a special school that teaches Rocket Control, Alien Studies and Resources, among other fascinating subjects. Thanks to her connection to Alfie, Will’s mother receives lodgings on Floor One; the luxurious accommodation reserved for the Mayflower’s elite. As a result, Will enjoys a privileged upbringing, mixing with the children of high-status passengers aboard the spaceship.
Finley is not as fortunate as Will. He and his family reside on Floor Seven, and are considered low-class citizens. Finley is the first person from the lower floors to be accepted into the Space Academy, and he is subjected to bullying as a result. He strikes up a friendship with Will, Emily and Lois after a traumatic event brings them together, and they begin to uncover dark secrets at the school. Being accepted by his peers means more to Finley than he can express, and the beauty of friendship is explored through his character’s journey. It’s difficult not to root for Finley. His ability to overcome adversity is both admirable and endearing.
Emily lives on Floor Two. Her father is a governor, but her difficult relationship with him leaves her feeling lost and confused. Emily’s keen interest in technology is a point of conflict between her and her dad, and she resents him for the way he treats her mother. Once she arrives at the Space Academy, Emily is finally able to be herself. She speaks her mind and sticks up for her friends. Her unwavering loyalty is her best quality, and she plays a huge part in solving the mystery the four friends find themselves wrapped up in.
Lois is the captain’s daughter, and thus the highest status pupil at the Space Academy. At first, she stays with her own clique of friends, looking down on Finley for his less privileged background. When a frightening incident brings the four main characters together, Lois begins to realise where she truly belongs. Her empathy and understanding continues to grow along with her new friendships, which provide her with the experience of family she never had.
If you could choose to be one of your characters who would you be Hannah?
That’s a difficult question! I think all my characters have their individual struggles, but I if I had to choose, I’d probably say Emily. Her experiences growing up on The Mayflower and attending Space Academy are incredibly unique. She’s very resilient and not afraid to go after what she wants!
Was there anything about your protagonist that surprised you?
When I started writing Will, I saw him as heroic and brave. He is the first to jump into a dangerous situation and goes out of his way to protect others. As I continued to write the story, I realised Finley has a much deeper kind of courage. Finley feels fear acutely, but he acts with bravery despite his terror. He has a different kind of resilience to Will, and it really got me thinking about different types of bravery. Sometimes, quiet strength is much more powerful than an overt display of boldness.
What scene did you enjoy writing the most?
I loved writing the scenes where Will and the gang return to Earth through the Looking Glass. The mysterious alien technology allows them to revisit events in the past, and I thoroughly enjoyed discovering the abandoned Earth through Will’s eyes.
… and the hardest?
The scene where Will discovers the truth about his father’s death was very hard to write. It’s an emotional scene, and I feel sad every time I read it back.
Who would you cast in the role of your characters if your book were optioned for a movie?
It’s hard to cast the younger characters because they are 13 at the beginning of the novel, but I could imagine Timothee Chalemet as Alfie in a few years’ time. Maybe someone like Daisy Edgar-Jones for Elsie as well!
Did you travel to any places as part of your research Hannah?
The Eden Project in Cornwall provided a lot of inspiration for the Resources biodome at the Space Academy. Having an entire rainforest experience contained inside a dome was an incredible thing to see. It sent my imagination spinning!
Finally, if your book is part of a series, what is in the future?
I have a plan for five instalments of the series, and the sequel is in an early draft stage.
Thank you for being my guest. Wishing you success with all your writing projects.
In 2017, Hannah Hopkins released a self-published novel entitled ‘The Split’; the story of four teenagers navigating life after Earth as they journey through space to a new planet. Two years later, the book was picked up by ‘The Conrad Press’ and re-vamped as ‘Space Academy,’ with a new cover, new title and new additions to the story. ‘Space Academy’ was released in 2020, kickstarting Hannah’s career as a writer.
Hannah is currently busy writing a historical fiction novel with a feminist twist. She spends the rest of her time working at a University and caring for her two young children in the UK.