Interview with Barry Kirwan, Author of When the Children Return

05 Jan 2022

What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write When the Children Return?

It’s about the danger of super-artificial intelligences (AIs), and how they would see the rest of organic species. We’re really at the beginning exploring AI technology. Stephen Hawking already warned about a potential ‘singularity’ with the coming of true AIs, that it could spell the end of humanity.

What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?

Science Fiction.

What books are on your TBR pile right now?

Old Man’s War by John Scalzi. Reading it right now, love his vision and down to earth writing style.

What scene in your book was your favorite to write?

It’s a section called ‘the cusp’, where an AI suddenly gains true sentience. It was kind of scary to write. But there’s another favourite scene called Windphone, based loosely on a true story following the Fukushima nuclear disaster. A few readers told me they broke down reading that one.

Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)

I write early in the mornings. I mean real early…

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

Two motto’s actually: ‘Just tell the story, no tricks,’ from Raymond Carver, and ‘Your characters should leave footprints in the snow,’ from Hemingway.

If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?

That although we assume AIs will be our servants and do our bidding, they may think otherwise.


Barry Kirwan is the author of the new book When the Children Return

Connect with Barry Kirwan

Author Site



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