Martin MacInnes is a Scottish author, who has written three novels to date. These include Infinite Ground, which won the Somerset Maugham Award

MacInnes was born in Inverness in 1983. In Ascension, longlisted for the Booker Prize 2023, is his third novel, and follows Infinite Ground and Gathering Evidence. His writing has already earned him a Somerset Maugham Award, the Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award and a Manchester Fiction Prize. In 2020 he was selected by the Guardian/British Council as One of Ten Writers Shaping the UK’s Future. He currently lives in Edinburgh.  

Martin MacInnes

Martin MacInnes on writing In Ascension

I wrote this one pretty quickly compared to earlier novels. I had a reasonably well developed draft about a year in, and then worked on it for another few months. I’ll generally work on something every day – writing in the morning, reading and planning in the afternoon, editing late in the evening. It’ll take me a while to really push through to what I want to do, so a lot of the early material – tens of thousands of words – will be discarded.  

It really depends on my living conditions at the time. I wrote my first novel in public libraries, my second at my brother’s place in Panama City. In Ascension is the only novel I’ve written from home, at a butcher’s block in the front room from 5-9am every day, wearing ear-plugs and using roller-gel pens on narrow-ruled writing pads, battling either the early glare from the east-facing window or the near-freezing indoor conditions in winter. 

I wrote In Ascension during a period when travel wasn’t possible, which was bound to influence the novel both positively and inversely: from the claustrophobia and regulation of domestic space in the novel’s ships, to the dramatic and expansive voyages they sail on.

Read the full interview here

Martin MacInnes

In this strange and wonderful world, every outward journey – whether to space or the depths of the ocean – is an inward one, as Leigh seeks to move beyond her troubled childhood. In Ascension is a Solaris for the climate-change age

— The Booker Prize 2023 judges on In Ascension

All nominated books

In Ascension by Martin MacInnes