Thursday, 30 November 2017

Coffee chat with Cat Sparks - author of Lotus Blue (Part 2)

Last week I hosted award-winning fiction author and former magazine editor and manager, Cat Sparks into my vitual café. She had so much to discuss about climate change fiction that I decided to split the coffee chat into two parts.

Here is a link to PART ONE.

PART TWO

DL: I can't help thinking that reports on climate change are something world leaders are treating as indifferently as an annual health check up. Like they can't see the damage so why change their habits now, or they're waiting until they have a heart attack to do something about it. I'd also like to think that maybe it'd take a major disaster to wake them up, but major disasters are already happening. Do you think climate change fiction will play a role in inciting today's generation into demanding that our leaders do something? And what do you think is the biggest threat for the world right now?

CAT: There have been notable incidences where fiction impacted strongly enough on readers in the past, enough to change views about the world and initiate a call to action. Two examples: Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962) is generally credited with kick starting the modern environmental movement. It’s a non-fiction book that utilises the device of an embedded science fiction story, “A Fable for Tomorrow.”  
Neville Shute’s best-seller On the Beach is said to have influenced Kennedy and definitely inspired many to anti-nuclear protest, both the book and film versions. Dr Helen Caldicott, then a 19-year-old medical student, credits the film as the catalyst which radicalised her into a lifetime of anti-nuclear activism.

The biggest threat to the world right now is complacency, particularly in the West, where so many of us lead soft, comfortable high-consumption lives. Most of us alive today are too young to have struggled through war rationing and the Great Depression & we’re used to thinking we deserve anything we can pay for. We trust in capitalism as some kind of protecting entity. We work and we buy stuff – that is how it has always been. Except that it hasn’t. History abounds with examples of societies who didn’t face up to the need for change, with dire consequences. Unfortunately, I don’t believe much of our society is going to change until cataclysmic events start affecting large numbers of middle class white people.

Complexity theory suggests that when societies develop beyond a certain point, collapse is inevitable. I don’t know if this is true, but I do know that parts of the world are going to become uninhabitable much sooner than we think. That hundreds of millions of people will be forced to move and globally we do not have a good track record of dealing with masses of displaced people.

Prof Brian Cox has expressed the opinion “if we can get through the next couple of decades and we begin to move off the planet, I think that then secures our future.” That’s quite a challenge. What will happen to us if we don’t?

As Bill McKibben says, “We’re under attack from climate change—and our only hope is to mobilize like we did in WWII.”

I completely agree with that. Plus, the old Cold War nuclear threat is back on the table. There are at least 15,000 nukes out there – and at least two world leaders who might actually be crazy enough to use them. And then there’s all those other threats: weaponised pathogens, unregulated synthetic biology, artificial intelligence, autonomous combat weaponry, computer hacking, terrorism, species extinctions, antibiotic resistance, religious fundamentalism and the widening gap between rich and poor. We have never had a wider and more varied array of methods by which we could sterilise this planet.

DL: For anyone interested in writing cli-fi or including climate change in their world building, I thought I'd ask these next few questions. What is the biggest myth or lie on climate change being pushed at the moment? Who is pushing the lie? And what would these people gain by continuing this lie?

CAT: We could eventually find ourselves in the situation where pretty much all realistic fiction is climate fiction by default. As Margaret Atwood says, it’s not climate change, it’s everything change.

The biggest lie is that Climate Change is not an existential threat. That it isn’t such a big deal, that it’s something likely to affect other people somewhere else. That the rich will be able to bunker down and somehow manage to continue business as usual. That we are not risking everything we have.
 
That continued dependence on fossil fuels will not have devastating consequences. People who make big money out of fossil fuel dependence are the ones holding back the sustainability revolution. The necessary technology to transition to renewables already exists and is being improved upon all the time – and there’s loads of money to be made in it. But the disruption to traditional financial infrastructures and power bases will be immense.

My view? When all the life known to exist in the entire universe is concentrated on one small blue planet, we are obliged to take that situation very seriously and behave accordingly.

It seems idiotic to have to point this out, but the last humans left standing should this planet has been reduced to a smoking ruin, will not be classifiable as “winners,” no matter what treasures they’ve manage to stuff into their underground bunkers.

DL:  And lastly, are you a biscuit or cake kind of person? And what is your favourite biscuit/cake?

CAT: I like biscuits AND cake! In fact, the only cake I don't like is pavlova. My favourite cake would be a toss-up between lemon tart and Portugese tart. Never met a biscuit I didn’t like.

DL: Thank so much to Cat for sharing information about climate change and how it translates into fiction.

MORE ABOUT CAT SPARKS
 
Cat Sparks is a multi-award-winning Australian author, editor, and artist, whose former employment includes media monitor, political and archaeological photographer, graphic designer, Fiction Editor for Cosmos Magazine, and Manager of Agog! Press. A 2012 Australian Council grant sent her to Florida to participate in Margaret Attwood's The time Machine Doorway workshop. she's currently finishing a PhD in climate change fiction. Her short story collection "The Bride Price" was published in 2013. her debut novel "Lotus Blue" was published by Talos Press, an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing, in 2017.

 
ABOUT HER CLIMATE CHANGE FICTION NOVEL "LOTUS BLUE"

 
 
Seventeen-year-old Star and her sister Nene are orphans, part of a thirteen-wagon caravan of nomadic traders living hard lives travelling the Sand Road. Their route cuts through a particularly dangerous and unforgiving section of the Dead Red Heart, a war-ravaged desert landscape plagued by rogue semi-sentient machinery and other monsters from a bygone age.

But when the caravan witnesses a relic-Angel satellite unexpectedly crash to Earth, a chain of events begins that sends Star on a journey far away from the life she once knew. Shanghaied upon the sandship Dogwatch, she is forced to cross the Obsidian Sea by Quarrel, an ancient Templar supersoldier. Eventually shipwrecked, Star will have no choice but to place her trust in both thieves and priestesses while coming to terms with the grim reality of her past—and the horror of her unfolding destiny—as the terrible secret her sister had been desperate to protect her from begins to unravel.

Meanwhile, something old and powerful has woken in the desert. A Lotus Blue, deadliest of all the ancient war machines. A warrior with plans of its own, far more significant than a fallen Angel. Plans that do not include the survival of humanity.

 Buy Lotus Blue on Amazon
 

"Obliterate" release day - L.L. Hunter's Hidden Magic series


Today's it's my pleasure to shine the spotlight on L. L Hunter's urban fantasy/ paranormal romance novella series, "Hidden Magic".
 
Hidden Magic is a series of novellas and a prequel to L.L. Hunter's "Dragon Heart" series.
 
http://amzn.to/2wUEVfv
 
THE STORY

Emma thought she’d made peace with herself and her past, but when her past comes back to haunt her, she’ll be forced to face her demons once more.

When she is turned unexpectedly mortal, she and Darcy reluctantly return to the world she fled to seek help. But when they arrive, Emma is confronted with a choice. One which, if she chooses wrongly, could come between her and Darcy forever.

 Emma never met a challenge she couldn’t handle. She once ran from her destiny, but she can’t escape her fate. 
 
You can’t obliterate your demons.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B076DJMJ6Q
 
These fabulous covers are designed by Desiree DeOrto. This blog tour is hosted by Lady Amber's Reviews & PR.

http://www.ladyambersreviews.com/

 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
https://www.facebook.com/pages/LL-Hunter/110104129132865


L.L. Hunter is the author of over 20 published works, including The Legend of the Archangel Series and The Garden of Eden. She has studied everything from veterinary nursing, forensic science, and dramatic arts, but has always known her true calling was to be an author.


She has been writing since her teens - everything from fan fiction, to song lyrics, to plays and musicals. When not working on her next paranormal romance, she can be found at home in Australia, reading somewhere comfortable with one or both of her “fur babies.”
 
CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR

BUY THE BOOK
Released November 30 2017
 
 
BUY LINKS
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2wUEVfv




 
READ THE REVIEWS
 

Friday, 24 November 2017

Dear Trophy Hunter, this is what a house of animal memorabilia looks like

Any animal lover on Facebook and Twitter will have seen the news feeds this week about lifting the ban on elephant hunting and the feeds about making it legal to hunt bears in hibernation. Seriously? What. The. Hell. Is. Wrong. With. These. People?
 
Whether fake news or not, these sorts of stories impact animal lovers. Deeply. I guess they know this and that's why they do it.
 
I decided today's post would be a collection of all the animals décor in my house to show trophy hunters what a real collection looks like. And if it's the story they seek as a reason to hunt innocent creatures, I got news for you, each of these items has a story behind it and no animals were killed in the collecting of them. 
 
I love the story behind this gorgeous art deco elephant. A friend gave  it to me as a thank you for minding her dog. He passed away the next year so this is a beautiful reminder of when Bruti came to stay.
art deco elephant sits on my book shelf
 
this ceramic vase zebra head looks better as a book end


And this stunning zebra print has a story. I saw this while I was working as a sales rep (yeah I did a lot of shopping in between store visits) and I absolutely loved it. It wasn't cheap so I put it on lay-by and paid it off over a course of months. It was my Christmas present to myself. This print has moved to many houses with me and will continue to do so.
 

I like how the eye is always watching


 
Then there's a glass horse and cart that I saw at a collective garage sale (that's where a group of people hire a hall and display all their home crafts or second hand goods) and I also bought this stunning photo of a deer that the photographer digitally designed and it's housed in the frame my sister bought me.
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 

 I certainly don't mean to bore you with images of the animal wares I've collected over the years. This is a giant poke at trophy hunters who have no true understanding of what a collection should be. There is absolutely no need to aim a rifle at an animal in sport, shoot it dead, cut off it's head, mount it on a wall, and feel proud that you did that to an innocent creature. I mean, come on. There are better ways to show your love of animals.
 
This zebra print was at a yard sale and despite having a bucket load of zebra print in my home, and I just couldn't resist.
 
it's #001 of a limited print

 The following are a few pieces I've bought while out on retail therapy days.
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
 
 
I adore my little moon gazing rabbit
 
This is the living beast who rules our house. She even has her own animal print throw rugs. My collection of images doesn't even include the framed photos of our beloved pooch hanging on the walls.
 
wild beast who terrorises the villagers
 
This year's Christmas decoration is a moss deer and a tiny bird on the tree. I think anyone can see how obsessed a person can become with animals. Doesn't mean I want to go out there and shoot them.

 
 
 
 These two prints of a lion and a zebra in a decoupage design have also travelled with me from house to house. They go through the process of being painted to suit the current décor, at the moment they're blue. You can't recolor the head of a lion, now can you, dear trophy hunter.

 
 
The point of this post is to show how a home can be filled with a wonderful collection that has taken years to gather, without the need to hunt and kill.
 

I hope everyone has enjoyed having a look through my home. All of these photos are straight up as they sit in my home on shelves and cabinets, I did not want to doctor these photos to make them look like they are in a sales catalogue.
 

I'll finish by saying this:
 
Dear Trophy Hunter, this is what a house of animal memorabilia looks like. Come round and have a look. But don't expect to leave with certain parts of your anatomy still attached.
 

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Coffee Chat with award winning author Cat Sparks (Part 1)

It's my absolute pleasure to invite Cat Sparks to my virtual café. She is a well known and well respected figure in the Australian publishing scene, having edited for magazines, written many award winning short stories, and now she has finally ventured into writing her first novel.

Cat provided me with so much information around climate fiction that I decided to make this coffee chat in two parts, because climate fiction is very interesting. A topic dear to my heart, and I hope it's dear to all your hearts, too.


DL: Firstly, since this is a coffee chat, how do you have your coffee? And what is your favourite time of the day to partake?

CAT: Like so many writers, I take my coffee very seriously. I only have one cup per day, so it needs to be a good one and it needs to happen in the morning not long after I haul myself out of bed. It takes three beverages to get me going, the first being a cup of green tea and the third a mug of Yorkshire extra strong tea with milk. The coffee goes in the middle, a cappuccino with two or three shots.


DL: You've been immersed in the publishing industry for many years, from editing magazines to publishing anthologies. You've also received many awards for editing and for your short stories. In fact you've had over 60 short stories published. Yet it's taken from your first short story in 2001 to 2017 for your debut novel, "Lotus Blue"
to be published. Was a novel always on the to do list? And is there any particular reason why it's taken this long?



CAT: I wish I could offer you some really interesting explanation as to why it took me so long to produce a novel good enough to sell. Like perhaps I’d been off exploring Antarctic wastelands or embedded deep on secret spy missions. Sadly, the truth is really boring. I'm a slow writer and life keeps getting in the way. And I guess I’m a bit of a perfectionist – I binned at least 300,000 words in the process of creating "Lotus Blue."
 

In 2012, I was awarded an Australia Council grant to write the novel that eventually became "Lotus Blue", a manuscript I'd already been working on for several years. So I quit my graphic design job and got stuck into writing. Thinking I’d be finished by the end of that year, I signed up to do a PhD directly following on. What I didn’t know then was that my mother had cancer. She passed away in October, 2012. My father was unable to care for himself, so my life became adjusted accordingly. Dad passed away in 2016 and I'm still struggling to get that degree over the line. I won't be starting another novel till February 2018 at least. Fingers crossed I can complete a half-decent draft across 12 months this time.

DL: You're currently gaining a PhD in climate fiction. Is there any difference between climate fiction and science fiction, apocalyptic, or dystopian fiction? If so, what is the notable difference?

CAT: Lack of global response to the imminent threat of climate change is sometimes blamed on a failure of societal imagination, but science fiction has been imagining various forms of environmental catastrophe since its Pre-Golden Age.

There’s a lot of scholarly argument about when science fiction can truly be said to have originated. I tend to agree with those who consider it a by-product of the Industrial Revolution, a time of great changes to the physical, economic and political landscape as science and technology began to impact greatly on society. Climate change itself is also a by-product of the Industrial Revolution, so the two really do go hand in hand.

To date, most climate fiction can also be classed as science fiction – but certainly not all of it. For this reason, I believe Cli Fi to be evolving into a separate and distinct genre, rather than existing as a subset of SF.
The ecocatastrophic alarmism of the 50s, 60s and 70s focused on the fear of overpopulation and pollution. Anxiety about pollution and global warming spiked when nuclear fears subsided after the Cold War. Both science fiction and climate fiction take on the task of envisioning physical and cultural landscapes facing uncertainty through processes of transformation and adaptation.

Post-apocalypse fiction requires a great cataclysmic event – either named or unnamed – to have taken place. Climate fiction does not. For example, the initiating incident in Barbara Kingsolver’s "Flight Behaviour" is a group of butterflies settling in a non-traditional location.

The term ‘dystopian’ is often used as an umbrella term encompassing apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic narratives, but I think of it as relating more specifically to oppressive social and political regimes. Think 1984 or The Hunger Games.

 DL: How was SupaNova 2017 for you? Was it a surprise? Everything you thought it would be? Completely different to what you're used to? Tell us everything!
 
 
CAT: SupaNova 2017 was a strange and fascinating experience, very different from the kinds of speculative fiction events I'm used to: conventions, conferences and festivals of a few hundred people -- although I have been to World Fantasy and Worldcons overseas, which are pretty big. SupaNova was a huge commercial extravaganza and I had to learn how to get into the groove. I’m not generally comfortable with pimping my own authorial self. I’m more the ‘sitting around in the bar talking to people’ kind of writer, but I soon realised that I needed to be as proactive as possible. Luckily, a well-seasoned friend, urban fantasy author Alan Baxter, was on hand to show me the ropes and by the close of SupaNova, Perth I had managed to sell every copy of Lotus Blue. Oh, and I got to meet Christopher Lloyd (total fangirl moment).

Photos from Supanova 2017 can be viewed here
Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/42956650@N00/

DL: Please thank Cat Sparks for dropping by for a coffee chat.   

Remember to drop by next week for Part Two  where I ask Cat what she thinks is the biggest threat for the world right now, and she provides insight for authors who wish to write climate fiction.
 


More about Cat Sparks
   
Cat Sparks is a multi-award-winning Australian author, editor, and artist, whose former employment includes media monitor, political and archaeological photographer, graphic designer, Fiction Editor for Cosmos Magazine, and Manager of Agog! Press. A 2012 Australian Council grant sent her to Florida to participate in Margaret Attwood's The time Machine Doorway workshop. she's currently finishing a PhD in climate change fiction. Her short story collection "The Bride Price" was published in 2013. her debut novel "Lotus Blue" was published by Talos Press, an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing, in 2017.


Follow Cat Sparks 
 Website 
Twitter

More about Lotus Blue
https://www.amazon.com/Lotus-Blue-Cat-Sparks-ebook/dp/B01N1XNSHG/ 


Seventeen-year-old Star and her sister Nene are orphans, part of a thirteen-wagon caravan of nomadic traders living hard lives travelling the Sand Road. Their route cuts through a particularly dangerous and unforgiving section of the Dead Red Heart, a war-ravaged desert landscape plagued by rogue semi-sentient machinery and other monsters from a bygone age.

But when the caravan witnesses a relic-Angel satellite unexpectedly crash to Earth, a chain of events begins that sends Star on a journey far away from the life she once knew. Shanghaied upon the sandship Dogwatch, she is forced to cross the Obsidian Sea by Quarrel, an ancient Templar supersoldier. Eventually shipwrecked, Star will have no choice but to place her trust in both thieves and priestesses while coming to terms with the grim reality of her past—and the horror of her unfolding destiny—as the terrible secret her sister had been desperate to protect her from begins to unravel.

Meanwhile, something old and powerful has woken in the desert. A Lotus Blue, deadliest of all the ancient war machines. A warrior with plans of its own, far more significant than a fallen Angel. Plans that do not include the survival of humanity.


 Buy Lotus Blue on Amazon