How an author’s running in Edinburgh helped his apocalyptic fiction flourish

Adrian J Walker

Adrian J Walker

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A writer explains how the picturesque jogging trails around the capital ended in fictional catastrophe

Adrian J Walker’s apocalyptic novel, The End Of The World Running Club, inspired by his time living and running in Edinburgh is described as a story of hope, long distance running and how we break the limits of our own endurance. Here he answers a few of our questions about what prompted him to write it.

You’ve said that Edinburgh has inspired your work. What are your favourite Edinburgh runs?

There are so many to choose from. Edinburgh is such a fantastic city with so much green space it feels like you’re never far from the countryside. When I lived there, my regular runs took me through The Meadows and around Arthur’s Seat, along the Water of Leith to Balerno and up into the hills.

Those long runs winding through the reservoirs up in the Pentlands were hard to beat, but I think my favourite was The Hermitage of Braid. I miss that smell of earth and foliage.

What are your other favourite cities to run in?

I lived in Aberdeen for a couple of years and there were some brilliant running trails through the nearby forests. I also lived in Houston, Texas. That posed more of a challenge because it’s built predominantly for cars, and I got some funny looks from those monster trucks as I negotiated the roads to George Bush Park. The bayous are great to run along, though, especially in the heat – snakes and alligators definitely make you pick up the pace.

There’s a growing trend for endurance sports. Why do you think this is and what’s the longest run you have ever completed?

Endurance athletes will tell you that their sport is about mental state as much as physical, and I think these pursuits provide a modern form of meditation – a way for us to find true connection outside of the noise of technology we subject ourselves to. The longest I’ve ever run is a marathon, but I’m fascinated by ultras and whether I could complete one.

Do running and writing go together?

Absolutely. I do my best work when I’m not thinking. My protagonist Ed’s character actually came from a period during which I was tired, unfit and every run was a chore. He was initially going to be a capable, positive runner, but I realised that’s not what a runner’s journey is about. Whether you’re facing your first 5K or (like Ed) your first 550 miles, it’s a journey of pain and you have to change, mentally, in order to travel it.

What’s next for you? And now you live in London, how does the running compare with the running in Edinburgh?

Lots more writing. I have no plans for a sequel to The End Of The World Running Club (although I wouldn’t rule one out) but I’m already talking with Del Rey about the next book, which I’m very excited about. I still plan to self-publish too. One of my other novels – Colours – is the first in a trilogy, and I hope to complete the second and third book over the next year or two.

There are plenty of green spaces in London, but I miss the Edinburgh hills. The biggest difference, however, is that I run with a partner now – my dog, who tries to keep things interesting with the occasional squirrel chase.

• The End of the World Running Club by Adrian J Walker is published in paperback by Del Rey at £7.99 and is out now

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