1. What am I working on now?
I’m in the midst of a Cli-Fi Trilogy chronicling a small band’s attempt to save some part of the world as it unravels in the face of the great warming. I’ve just completed my first draft of Book Two, tentatively titled, A Black Fire Burning. Book One, A Being Darkly Wise, is on sale now and is earning rave reviews–which sounds nice, but it kinda makes me nervous. Like any writer, there are days when I think I’m a complete fraud who has no business trying to write, and so success is scary.
2. How does my work fit into the Cli-Fi Genre?
Most Cli-Fi fiction fits into the dystopic future mold. I chose to set the first two books of the Trilogy in contemporary time–in part, because I find the question of how we are navigating toward a dystopic future as interesting as attempting to live in it, and in part, it allows me to use my experience as a scientist and policy guy who has spent over 35 years in the field. Before you hit the snooze alert, my books aren’t polemics–they’re nail-biting thrillers.
Since I deal in the present or very near future, my first two books are more like Kinglsolver’s Flight Behavor than say, Heller’s Dog Stars. My third book, tentatively titled In the Language of Lemmings is dystopian, although it is grounded in the near future–about 2040. I’ve completed a rough draft of it as well. I think dystopia, in one form or another, will arrive earlier than most people believe. I also think we’ll kinda slump our way into it, so it won’t be obvious to us until we look back and wonder how we got there.
So while my books are definitely Cli-Fi, they are probably grounded more firmly to a world we’d recognize–a wold in which we can still see the things we’ve lost.
3. Why do I write what I do?
Quite simply, I can’t stop myself. Even when I write fiction that is not explicitly about climate change, it ends up being an integral part of the story. Having said that, you can’t set out to write what amounts to a lecture thinly disguised as fiction, or your fiction won’t ring true–as it must if it is to succeed as a novel. More about that, in the answer to number 4.
4. How does my writing process work? Explain your writing days and nights. How do you work? How do you outline or plan the story?
I don’t do outlines, and while I try to write most mornings, I’m not fanatical about it. I may review and edit the day’s writing in the evening, but I rarely write original stuff then. I’m just too stale. In the mornings, all that subliminal wrestling I’ve done on the people I’m trying to create is fresh, and that keeps the writing fresh. As most fiction writers will tell you, if your work is going well, a character will emerge and take over the story. That’s when the magic happens. I’ve had a few attempts where that didn’t occur, and I’ve put them to rest … they’ll never come to life as real fiction must, so it’s best to let them be.