How to write non-fiction

PUBLISHED: 18:49 25 October 2013 | UPDATED: 18:49 25 October 2013

Christopher Lloyd and his wallbooks

Christopher Lloyd and his wallbooks

Manu Palomeque

‘Truth is stranger than fiction’ and these Kent authors show just how diverse and entertaining it can be

Christopher Lloyd

Genre: Big history

Location: Leigh, nr Tonbridge

Twitter: @wallbooks

Christopher Lloyd’s wallbooks 
are proof that history and science don’t have to be boring. Taking inspiration from the Bayeux tapestry, 
their timeline designs are filled with pictures and captions that allow the 
reader to start anywhere they choose 
and see an overview of what happened globally at a given point in time.

Unfolding like a concertina, the 
books can be spread out on the floor, 
put up on the wall or read like a book. 
The challenge, says Christopher, “is 
that it needs to look good from a distance 
and not disappoint close up.”

Planning such a detailed book could 
be an overwhelming task, but Christopher says: “What I do is create a massive great big spreadsheet and put everything in it. 
It doesn’t involve any particular new research, but it is a redesign and reformulation of what’s already known 
in a more accessible format.”

It took Christopher two months to create the initial hand-drawn, scaled draft of his first wallbook, From the Big Bang to the Present Day, and he ended up with 
16 pieces of paper sellotaped together.

This painstaking process was repeated for the next book, but he happily admits that using a design programme for his forthcoming book on Shakespeare is making the process much quicker.

When he’s not writing, Christopher 
gives talks in schools and museums and has a ‘coat of many pockets’ that allows him to present each wallbook through 
the use of props in 60 minutes.

When asked what’s inside the pockets 
an array of toy trains, paints, empty jam jars, knitting needles, matches and even 
a pair of comedy breasts appear.

Christopher’s favourite visit was to a school in Wales, where he suggested that the most amazing moment in golf history was when Alan Shepherd became the first person to take a golf shot on the moon.

A little girl called Naomi put up her 
hand and asked: “Excuse me sir, did he 
go and pick it up or is it still there?”

Christopher says: “That comment was everything I could wish for, a child who 
is thinking beyond, she’s not just listening, she’s engaging and wondering.” n

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