Sebastian Faulks on Human Traces: ‘I had no idea I would turn out to be 3% Neanderthal’

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The author on his exhilarating research into the human mind, teaching creative writing at Broadmoor – and his new, follow-up novel

I was about 50 when I wrote Human Traces or “The Footsteps on Mount Low”, as it was originally called. It came out in 2005. In the bright glow of hindsight it seems to be the book of someone who, at the middle point of life, is pausing to take stock and to confront what he believes to be his Waterloo. You can hear the intake of breath and flexing of muscles in the opening pages. If not now, when?

The question the novel attempted to answer was simply: what are we? What kind of creature? So ingenious, yet so unstable. Masters of the planet, yet separated from all its other inhabitants by our possession of the gift – or curse – of consciousness. Eternal refugees from a lost Eden, of whom one in a hundred suffers from severe delusions.

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