Thank you, Sarah, for inviting me over to your blog to talk about how I came to write a Cli-Fi novel for kids.
Cli-Fi, which is short for Climate Fiction, is an emerging genre – not necessarily a subset of science fiction – which tackles themes of climate change, either natural or man-made. It’s a natural development. As the world becomes more aware of the impact that the discharge of greenhouses gases into our atmosphere is likely to have, both for us and for our descendants, it is only to be expected that such themes and concerns will be reflected in the fiction of our age.
But when I started writing Red Rock it wasn’t my intention to write a Cli-Fi book. In fact I only heard of the term Cli-Fi after I got my book deal.
The inspiration for Red Rock came out of my work as a Marine Scientist. Some years ago I took part in several oceanographic surveys into Arctic waters. I remember my first sight of sea ice as we approached the Marginal Ice Zone, the way it heaved and creaked in the swell. I saw puffins and polar bears, seals and whales, and watched the aurora dancing across the sky. The Arctic has a beautiful desolation about it. I remember thinking how fortunate I was to come to this place and see the ice floes, for, if current trends continue, in a hundred years or so it could all be gone.
But 110,000 years ago, during the last major interglacial period (the Eemian), the world was in fact a few degrees warmer than it is now, the Greenland ice cap all but melted and sea levels were several metres higher than they are now. I couldn’t help wondering what the world must have been like at that time, what creatures might have lived, and how little we know about what lies underneath the Greenland ice.
These elements came together to inspire Red Rock. I’m not going to say any more about how the Eemian interglacial fits in – you’ll just have to read the book to find out!
When I first had the idea I pondered whether to write it as a story for adults or for children. There are always many different ways in which you can tell the same story – the trick is to find the way that works best for you, and for me it felt right that Red Rock should be a children’s book. I had rediscovered children’s literature through my own children and I knew in my gut that this was the audience I wanted to write for.
My journey to publication was relatively standard, although I am unusual in that I am one of my Agents few clients that she didn’t find through the slushpile. (Don’t fear the slushpile and don’t believe the rumours – it is how most agents find 90% of their clients). I met Julia when I booked myself into a 1-2-1 surgery at the Frome Festival. I submitted my first chapter, hoping for useful feedback, so when I ended up getting signed I kept having to pinch myself to prove that it was real. A book deal followed about a year later. (It’s a slow process) and finally, last September, I held a copy of my own book in my hands. It was a magical moment – and the culmination of an awful lot of hard work!
If you want to find out more about me and my writing I keep a blog at: http://scribblingseaserpent.blogspot.co.uk/
You can also follow me on twitter, facebook and goodreads.
Red Rock is available from all good bookshops as well as in a variety of e-book formats.
I am also available for talks and visits – please see the ‘events’ page on my blog.
Sarah says: Thank you so much Kate for that fascinating post and for taking the time to tell us the background to the publication of your children’s novel. I highly recommend this book as well worth a read, whatever your age!
You may also like to read a previous guest post by Kate from back in January