Guest Blogger Kate Kelly Talks About Her Children’s Cli-Fi Novel & Her Route to Publication

kkarctic2Thank 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!

RRcoverWhen 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!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you want to find out more about me and my writing I keep a blog at:
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

Points to Consider Before Posting Your Work Online: by Children’s Author, Kate Kelly

Sarah has kindly invited me over to this blog and has asked me to say a few words about posting your work online.

It’s very tempting for a new writer who has just started their first blog or website to want to showcase their work. I see it often – a synopsis – the first few chapters – or a complete short story posted for anyone to read.

Sometimes the person is asking for feedback. Sometimes they are trying to promote their self published book, but often these sample chapters are part of a Work in Progress – or something that is currently doing the rounds of agents’ desks.

If you have self published and are posting extracts as part of your book promotion then that is one thing. However, if it is something that you are hoping to sell then you should think twice about posting online.

Here are some of the reasons why:

1. If you post something on your blog you are effectively publishing it. In the case of a short story you will have relinquished first rights to that story. You will no longer be able to sell it to a magazine or anthology as technically it is already published.
2. You will also have made the story ineligible for most competitions.
3. There is no copyright on ideas so do you really want the entire world to share in yours?
4. If what you are posting is a WIP then it probably still needs work. Do you really want the world to see your mistakes?
5. Agents do not trawl round writers’ blogs looking for new clients. They have enough in their slushpile to keep them busy. (I’m sure someone will chime in with an exception to this but in general it is true).
6. If an agent or publisher is interested then the first thing they will do will be to visit your blog. If they see a large portion of the work you have submitted to them that could very likely be a deal breaker.
7. If you are looking for good quality critique on your work then a blog is not the best place. Join a good online writers’ community instead.


“Thank you, Kate, for your words of wisdom that I’m sure will have many novice writers rushing to their blogs to remove material they’ve unwittingly ‘published’. And, yes, I do have some of my short stories on my blog, but not ones that I intend to publish elsewhere! I also have posted some one or two sentence teasers from my work-in-progress, but that is acceptable.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKate Kelly is a children’s author based in the UK. Her début novel Red Rock, published by Curious Fox, is a Cli-fi thriller for the 10+ age group. 

I look forward Kate returning to this blog in the near future for an interview about her novel and how she achieved publication. Meanwhile, perhaps you would like to check out her blog at

If you live in the UK, you can buy Red Rock as a paperback or Kindle edition here

If you live outside the UK, you can buy the book as Kindle edition (only) here

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