The Climate Novelists Writing Process Blog Tour is a simple way for cli-fi authors to share their thoughts about their writing process. Each author answers four questions and shares their response on their blog or on Eco-Fiction.com. You can find these four questions and my answers below.
1. What am I working on now, or what have I just finished?
I’m currently working on two climate fiction writing projects.
My first project is a novel called Order. Order is a sequel (technically a sidequel) to my first novel, Change. It takes place in the same approximate time period and deals with similar themes and overlapping characters. Viewing events from a different character’s perspective creates a very different story!
My second project is a series of short stories. I originally started this series for my Patreon campaign, but now I’m planning on collecting all of the climate-related tales in the series into a single volume.
2. How does my work fit into the climate genre?
I don’t always write climate fiction, but when I do, you know that you’re reading cli-fi!
Most of my published and unpublished writing is cli-fi. In most of these stories, the characters explicitly discuss and respond to the climate crisis. Characterization, plot, and setting are all in some way directly affected by the presence of the climate crisis.
This is not the case with all cli-fi. Some stories in the genre reference the theme of climate change more lightly. For example, the story may be set in a future world that has been heavily affected by climate change, but the characters themselves are primarily dealing with survival, politics, mystery, romance, or any other source of conflict not directly related to the climate. This approach is a great way to introduce the cli-fi genre to new readers. They may read a cli-fi story because of its other themes and qualities, but come to appreciate cli-fi as a genre in its own right.
3. Why do I write what I do?
Writing has been my longest-lasting life ambition — with the possible exception of being a superhero! I wrote my first fan fiction (Danny Dunn) when I was in grade school. Ever since then, I’ve known that I wanted to be an author. It took me an extra decade or two to pursue this ambition in earnest, but here I am.
Why climate fiction? Honestly, my earliest attempts at full-length fiction had nothing to do with the climate crisis. I grew up reading sci-fi and fantasy, so I started writing sci-fi and fantasy. However, during my college years, I became involved in the environmental movement and eventually the climate justice movement. The more I learned, the more I realized just how serious the climate crisis is. One day while I was out jogging, I was thinking about my direction in life. Suddenly, something clicked. Why not combine these two great passions in my life by writing fiction about the climate crisis? As soon as the thought occurred to me, I immediately began work on what would ultimately become my first novel.
To make a long story short, I write cli-fi because any author who’s telling a tale about the future needs to consider the role of climate change in that tale — and any person who’s alive on this planet today needs to consider their role in responding to the climate crisis. Fiction is a wonderful way to explore serious real-life themes while also telling entertaining and compelling tales. I choose to use fiction to explore the serious real-life theme of climate change.
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?
My writing process is a bit irregular. So far, I haven’t made the transition to full-time author status. I spend a good portion of my days working at a community center and engaging in various other forms of community involvement. More often than not, my writing happens at night and on weekends. It also tends to happen in irregular bursts — going days without writing at all, but then spending hours at a time intently focusing on my writing.
As for process, I tend to use a rough outline and notes for long fiction, but no outlines or notes at all for short fiction. My Goodbye Miami fiction blog was an interesting combination of both approaches. I knew from the beginning that the project would essentially be a novel published one chapter at a time, so I wrote a general outline and some notes before even starting the blog. However, I wanted the individual entries to have a stream-of-consciousness feel like a real-life personal blog, so I just sat down in front of the computer each day or two and wrote about whatever came to mind within the loose guidelines provided by my outline. It was an interesting combination of planned writing and purely spontaneous writing.