Readers of The Bone Clocks might remember this little exchange from the Sheepshead: 2043 chapter, which has an aging Holly Sykes caring for her granddaughter and a young refugee boy.  Stalling after a bedtime story, the children ask Holly what life was like when she was growing up:

“Is it really true,” Rafiq shows no sign of shifting from Lorelei’s bed, “that when you were my age you used to get as much electricity as you wanted all the time, like?”

“Do I detect a bedtime postponement tactic, young man?”

He grins. “Must’ve been magno to have all that electricity.”

“It must’ve been what?”

“Magno. Everyone says it. Y’know: boss, class, epic, good.”

The CBC’s Alan Neal asked David Mitchell about “magno” in a radio interview just before Mitchell’s appearance at the Ottawa International Writers Festival earlier this week. How did he come up with the term? It helps to be a dad:

“I was speaking with my daughter who was then about 11…and we made a list of these superlatives that kids of those age come up with and which are obsolete by the time the adults have heard of them. … I suppose it was a lesson in how subjective language is, and that anything will do. And magno just sounded as plausible, certainly more plausible than sick or wicked.”

The entire interview is less than 20 minutes but provides some insight into how Mitchell recycles characters, how he mentally juggles his ever-expanding and increasingly complex world, and whether his inner Crispin Hershey comes out at book festivals.