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Guest Blog by E. J. Swift - Opportunities and challenges in writing about climate change

Please welcome E .J. Swift to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. Osiris (Book One of the Osiris Project) was published on June 5, 2012 by Night Shade Books. You may read The Qwillery's interview with E. J. Swift here.


Guest Blog by E. J. Swift - Opportunities and challenges in writing about climate change


Opportunities and challenges in writing about climate change

In an interview back in June, I mentioned the challenges of using climate change as a backdrop to my novel Osiris, and The Qwillery has kindly asked me back to talk a bit more about it. I made a decision quite early on that Osiris would be set in a world drastically altered by climate change – I could have gone down the fantasy line with it, but I chose this route, partly because the changes happening to our planet are something I feel very strongly about, and partly because I like the scope the subject gives me as a writer of fiction.

It’s important to me to create a plausible world as far as possible, but plausibility is always going to be limited to what is known at the time of writing. Although there’s a prevalence of information relating to climate change, both in terms of what is happening right now, and predictions for the future, new data is constantly coming to light, and predictions can conflict one another. A good example is the 2004 film The Day After Tomorrow, based on the idea that a shift in the Gulf Stream could bring a new ice age to the northern hemisphere – a scenario which was also highlighted in Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth, but which in light of more recent information now seems unlikely.

As a novelist, the possible scenarios certainly allow plenty of room to play. I’ve always been drawn to bleak landscapes; but I’m also interested in the politics of a future where large parts of the world have become uninhabitable. What does that mean for countries and borders? Who survives and who is left behind? Geoengineering is a hot topic in environmental discussions – if we are unable to prevent change happening on such a vast scale, would there be attempts to reverse it? What would be the movements for and against those actions?

The challenge for me is to incorporate some of these questions and details into the backdrop of the novel without detracting from the narrative. With The Osiris Project trilogy, I’m working in a close third person point of view, and the closer the viewpoint, the more bound you are to the character’s inner world. The question then becomes what does that character have access to, and what can they discover from other people or events? In Osiris this had its limitations because the city has been cut off from the rest of the world: neither of the two principal characters could know what existed beyond the city’s towers. One technique which I always enjoy when I’m reading and like to incorporate in my own work is stories within stories. I love the theatricality of storytelling, and the question of its perspective and veracity. Another way of showing details is through the landscape influencing a character’s behaviour; in Osiris, I wanted the sea to creep into in all aspects of the characters’ lives, consciously and unconsciously.

These are all questions I continue to face whilst writing the next two installments of the trilogy. The world can offer a great deal to the story: it can inform the mindset of the characters and the decisions they make and the crises that they face. It can inform the wider politics of the society they are part of. But it needs to sit behind the story, influencing, but not overshadowing the actions of the characters.

Postscript

As a postscript, I wanted to link to an article published by Rolling Stone at the beginning of this month - if you’re interested, you can find the full article here: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719 , but it’s based around three statistics, which I think speak for themselves:

2 degrees – the widely accepted (at least politically) upper limit of global warming which can happen without climate change running complete riot
565 gigatons – the amount of carbon dioxide which can be released into the atmosphere without passing the 2 degree threshold
2795 gigatons – the amount of carbon dioxide we’re currently planning to burn, i.e. gas, coal and oil reserves of energy companies – the amount that is already in circulation in terms of financial commitments, investments and equity.

I think this could inspire some interesting scenarios for science fiction writers.




About Osiris

Osiris
Osiris Project 1
Night Shade Books, June 5, 2012
Hardcover and eBook, 400 pages

Guest Blog by E. J. Swift - Opportunities and challenges in writing about climate change
Nobody leaves Osiris. Osiris is a lost city. She has lost the world and world has lost her . . .

Rising high above the frigid waters, the ocean city of Osiris has been cut off from the land since the Great Storm fifty years ago. Most believe that Osiris is the last city on Earth, while others cling to the idea that life still survives somewhere beyond the merciless seas. But for all its inhabitants, Citizens and refugees alike, Osiris is the entire world--and it is a world divided.

Adelaide is the black-sheep granddaughter of the city's Architect. A jaded socialite and family miscreant, she wants little to do with her powerful relatives--until her troubled twin brother disappears mysteriously. Convinced that he is still alive, she will stop at nothing to find him, even if it means uncovering long-buried secrets.

Vikram, a third-generation storm refugee quarantined with thousands of others in the city's impoverished western sector, sees his own people dying of cold and starvation while the elite of Osiris ignore their plight. Determined to change things, he hopes to use Adelaide to bring about much-needed reforms--but who is using who?

As another brutal winter brings Osiris closer to riot and revolution, two very different people, each with their own agendas, will attempt to bridge the gap dividing the city, only to find a future far more complicated than either of them ever imagined.

Osiris is the beginning of an ambitious new science fiction trilogy exploring a near-future world radically transformed by rising seas and melting poles.



About E.J. Swift

Guest Blog by E. J. Swift - Opportunities and challenges in writing about climate change
E. J. Swift is an English writer of science fiction and fantasy. Her short fiction has been published in Interzone magazine. Her debut novel OSIRIS is published by Night Shade Books, and is the first in a trilogy: THE OSIRIS PROJECT.




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2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - June 2012 Winner

The results are in and the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars winner for June is E.J. Swift's Osiris (The Osiris Project 1) with 57% of the votes cast. The winning cover was created by Sparth.


2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - June 2012 Winner


The final results:

2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - June 2012 Winner



2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - June 2012 Winner



Thank you to everyone who voted, Tweeted, and participated. The 2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will continue in July with voting on the July debut covers (of which there are quite a few).

2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - June 2012

It's time for the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars for May 2012!




As part of this year's Debut Author Challenge I thought it would be fun to choose a favorite cover from each month's debut novels. At the end of the year the 12 monthly winners will be pitted against each other to choose the 2012 Debut Novel Cover of the Year. Please note that a debut novel cover is eligible in the month in which the novel is released in the US.

January 2012 Winner - Control Point (Shadow Ops 1) by Myke Cole. Cover Art by Mike Komarck.

February 2012 Winner - Dead Harvest (The Collector 1) by Chris F. Holm. Cover Art by Amazing 15.

March 2012 Winner - The Company of the Dead by David Kowalski, Cover Art by Amazing 15.

April 2012 Winner - Blackbirds (Miriam Black 1) by Chuck Wendig. Cover Art by Joey Hi-Fi.

May 2012 Winner - Nightshifted (Edie Spence 1) by Cassie Alexander. Cover art by Aleta Rafton.


For June you have 5 covers to choose from.













 



Interview with E.J. Swift - June 9, 2012

Please welcome E.J. Swift to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Osiris (Book One of the Osiris Project) was published on June 5, 2012 by Night Shade Books.



TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

EJ:  I don’t have any weird and wonderful rituals, but I do have to work in silence – no café writing for me! I’m always envious of writers who talk about having soundtracks for their novels or the music they listen to while writing. I love music but I can’t work with it – I find it influences my mood too much, and I need a clean headspace. Ideally I’d have a completely clean desk to work at as well, but it’s safe to say I’m not the world’s tidiest person.

TQ:  Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

EJ:  David Mitchell is one of my favourite writers, especially Cloud Atlas and Number9Dream. I love narrative structures with stories within stories – Mitchell’s novels are so structurally clever and he has such a beautiful and distinctive style. I got my copy of Number9Dream signed at a reading and turned into a gibbering wreck; I was completely awestruck. Jeanette Winterson is another hero. I love her prose and her knack of pinpointing emotions so exactly, plus she really fights for the arts. And Cormac McCarthy’s vocabulary is a thing of pure envy. But it’s dangerous reading too much McCarthy while writing, because sometimes I catch myself unconsciously trying to imitate the style, and you know that’s just going to go disastrously wrong. In genre, some of my favourite books are Christopher Priest’s The Prestige, Nick Harkaway’s The Gone-Away World, Alastair Reynolds’ House of Suns, and The Man Who Fell To Earth by Walter Tevis. Going back a bit further, Northern Lights by Philip Pullman was definitely a big influence when I started out writing.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

EJ:  I wish I was a plotter, I really do! It’s probably the thing I struggle most with. With past novels I’ve always tended to write out of sequence, and let the story evolve organically. I usually have a strong sense of the beginning and the ending early on, but what happens in between is a mystery. I’m not convinced it’s the best way to work though – I end up having to do lots of retrospective work in tightening the plot or cutting out huge chunks of writing. A friend in my workshop group observed that I need to write my way into things and I think she’s spot on – often at revision stage I find myself cutting the first few pages of a chapter.

With the sequels to Osiris I’m trying to be more disciplined, so I’m taking a different approach and working on one character’s story at a time. I probably couldn’t have worked like this with Osiris, because Adelaide and Vikram’s stories are so closely intertwined, but in book two my characters are more out on their own.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

EJ:  Finding the time. I’m guessing this is a popular response! Like many writers I have a day job and after sitting in front of a computer screen all day, the last thing I want when I get home is to do the same for another few hours. So at the moment most of my work is done at the weekends. I always carry a notebook on me though and if I wake up in the middle of the night with a sentence in my head, I try and force myself to turn on the light and write it down, because I never remember in the morning. For some reason I get lots of ideas in the shower. It’s probably because I’m still narcoleptic.

TQ:  Describe Osiris (Book One of the Osiris Project) in 140 characters or less.

EJ:  In a divided ocean city cut off from land, miscreant socialite Adelaide meets revolutionary activist Vikram. There are Consequences...

TQ:  What inspired you to write Osiris?

EJ:  I wrote a novella called The Last Balloon Flight, which was a fantastical tale, almost like a fairy tale, about a balloon flight across a flooded world. I wrote it for my best friend as a leaving gift when he moved to Paris and the story is referenced in Osiris (my stories within stories obsession!). After writing that I had a very strong visual idea for an ocean city, with towers rising out of the water. The city came first. I knew it had to be a divided city, and then the characters developed largely out of their environments.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Osiris?

EJ:  There’s a brilliant non-fiction book by writer and campaigner Mark Lynas called Six Degrees, which describes what our planet would look like after one degree of global warming, two degrees, and so on up to six degrees. It’s a very accessible look at the consequences of climate change for anyone like me who doesn’t have a science background. It’s also pretty terrifying. On the fiction side, friends kept telling me to read The Drowned World by J. G. Ballard, and I did eventually, but not until after I’d finished writing Osiris – I didn’t want to be influenced. I loved it though. It was so evocative, like sinking into syrup.

TQOsiris is set in "a near-future world radically transformed by rising seas and melting poles." Why did you choose to write about climate change and its potential effects?

EJ:  The environment is a topic that’s very close to my heart. I’m still shocked that climate change continues to be debated as if it could be some kind of hoax, when the evidence is all around us. So I guess it was bound to come out somewhere in my writing. But I wouldn’t describe Osiris as specifically ‘a book about climate change’; the world is very much the backdrop to the story, and the story is what comes first. Because the city Osiris is cut off from the outside world, what might be going on elsewhere is only hinted at, but it’s something I’ll be exploring more in books 2 and 3. Also, I’m very drawn to really bleak landscapes – I’m not sure why!

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?

EJ:  With a disclaimer, Adelaide (she is pretty selfish at the start and often not very nice to people). I think she is very much a product of her society, and that made her easy to write, plus she has a clear mission and is single-minded in her pursuit of it. I also really enjoyed writing scenes with her twin brother Axel, although he only appears in flashback, and a lot of that material got cut. It was necessary for the narrative pace, but I was sad to see it go because I really loved Axel and his story. I had to do more work to bring out Vikram. It took me a while to really get under his skin, until I wrote a short flashback scene with him as a child where his best friend Mikkeli shows him the border, and things suddenly clicked into place.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Osiris?

EJ:  There’s a scene with Vikram at the end of part 3 that I am very fond of. It’s a reflective scene and allowed me to write a bit more whimsically. I love writing those kinds of scenes but I have to censor myself, because they do slow the pace down. And actually I very much like the flashback scene between Vikram and Mikkeli which comes really early on, because it was a breakthrough for me, and I felt that it did a lot of work in a short space.

TQ:  What's next?

EJOsiris is now out in the world (here’s a link to a book trailer I’m rather thrilled with: www.vimeo.com/catamaroon/osiristrailer ). There are two more books to come in The Osiris Project trilogy, with new people and new places, so that’s going to keep me occupied for a while. Book 2 is crystallizing in my head. I had a short story in UK magazine Interzone last year, which I felt inordinately proud of, because I’m not a natural short story writer – I’d like to get another story published this year. Down the line, there’s a book I’ve got a first draft of, which I was working on just before I signed with Night Shade. It’s totally different from Osiris – much more playful. After three books in a dystopian future, I think I’ll be ready for something a bit different. Although knowing me, I’ll have changed my mind completely by then...

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

EJ:  Thank you very much for having me!



About Osiris

Osiris
Osiris Project 1
Night Shade Books, June 5, 2012
Hardcover and eBook, 400 pages

Nobody leaves Osiris. Osiris is a lost city. She has lost the world and world has lost her . . .

Rising high above the frigid waters, the ocean city of Osiris has been cut off from the land since the Great Storm fifty years ago. Most believe that Osiris is the last city on Earth, while others cling to the idea that life still survives somewhere beyond the merciless seas. But for all its inhabitants, Citizens and refugees alike, Osiris is the entire world--and it is a world divided.

Adelaide is the black-sheep granddaughter of the city's Architect. A jaded socialite and family miscreant, she wants little to do with her powerful relatives--until her troubled twin brother disappears mysteriously. Convinced that he is still alive, she will stop at nothing to find him, even if it means uncovering long-buried secrets.

Vikram, a third-generation storm refugee quarantined with thousands of others in the city's impoverished western sector, sees his own people dying of cold and starvation while the elite of Osiris ignore their plight. Determined to change things, he hopes to use Adelaide to bring about much-needed reforms--but who is using who?

As another brutal winter brings Osiris closer to riot and revolution, two very different people, each with their own agendas, will attempt to bridge the gap dividing the city, only to find a future far more complicated than either of them ever imagined.

Osiris is the beginning of an ambitious new science fiction trilogy exploring a near-future world radically transformed by rising seas and melting poles.




OSIRIS Book Trailer from E J Swift on Vimeo.




About E.J. Swift

E J (Emma) Swift is an English writer who lives and works in London. Her short fiction has previously been published in Interzone magazine. Osiris is her first novel, and the first in a trilogy: The Osiris Project. When not writing, Emma can usually be found festooned with cats, attempting to grow things in an urban garden, or practising aerial circus skills.

You can visit Emma’s website at www.ejswift.co.uk 


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2012 Debut Author Challenge - June 2012 Debuts

2012 Debut Author Challenge - June 2012 Debuts


There are 5 debuts for June.  Please note that I use the publisher's publication date in the United States.

Take a good look at the covers. Voting for the your favorite June cover for the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place later this month.

The June debut authors and their novels are listed in alphabetical order by author (not book title or publication date). Pick one or more and let us know in the comments which one(s) you'll be reading. If I've missed any, let me know in the comments.


Beneath the Shadows
Author:  Sara Foster
Format:  Hardcover, 320 pages
Publisher:  Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books, June 5, 2012
Price:  $24.99
Language:  English
Genre: Gothic Suspense
ISBN:  978-0312643362
US Debut

2012 Debut Author Challenge - June 2012 Debuts
In this thrilling gothic suspense debut by Sara Foster in the tradition of Rosamund Lupton and Sophie Hannah, a young mother searches Yorkshire's windswept moors for the truth behind her husband's mysterious disappearance.

THE ANSWERS ARE HIDING BENEATH THE SHADOWS

When Grace’s husband, Adam, inherits an isolated North Yorkshire cottage, they leave the bustle of London behind to try a new life. A week later, Adam vanishes without a trace, leaving their baby daughter, Millie, in her stroller on the doorstep. The following year, Grace returns to the tiny village on the untamed heath. Everyone—the police, her parents, even her best friend and younger sister—is convinced that Adam left her. But Grace, unable to let go of her memories of their love and life together, cannot accept this explanation. She is desperate for answers, but the slumbering, deeply superstitious hamlet is unwilling to give up its secrets. As Grace hunts through forgotten corners of the cottage searching for clues, and digs deeper into the lives of the locals, strange dreams begin to haunt her. Are the villagers hiding something, or is she becoming increasingly paranoid? Only as snowfall threatens to cut her and Millie off from the rest of the world does Grace make a terrible discovery. She has been looking in the wrong place for answers all along, and she and her daughter will be in terrible danger if she cannot get them away in time.


Silver
Author:  Rhiannon Held
Format: Trade Paperback, 320 pages
Publisher:  Tor Books, June 5, 2012
Price: $14.99
Language: English
Genre: Urban Fantasy
ISBN:  978-0765330376

2012 Debut Author Challenge - June 2012 Debuts
Andrew Dare is a werewolf. He’s the enforcer for the Roanoke pack, and responsible for capturing or killing any Were intruders in Roanoke’s territory. But the lone Were he’s tracking doesn’t smell or act like anyone he’s ever encountered. And when he catches her, it doesn’t get any better. She’s beautiful, she’s crazy, and someone has tortured her by injecting silver into her veins. She says her name is Silver, and that she’s lost her wild self and can’t shift any more.

The packs in North America have a live-and-let-live attitude, and try not to overlap with each other. But Silver represents a terrible threat to every Were on the continent.

Andrew and Silver will join forces to track down this menace while discovering their own power and their passion for each other.


Green Light Delivery
Author:  Anne E. Johnson
Format: Trade Paperback
Publisher:  Candlemark & Gleam, June 19, 2012
Price: $19.95
Language: English
Genre: SciFi - Space Opera/Noir
ISBN:  9781936460281


2012 Debut Author Challenge - June 2012 Debuts
Webrid is a carter, like his mother and grandfather before him. It’s not glamorous work, but it mostly pays the bills, and it gives him time to ogle the sexy women on the streets of Bexilla’s capital. Mostly, he buys and sells small goods and does the occasional transport run for a client.

Then he gets mugged by a robot.

Now, with a strange green laser implanted in his skull and a small fortune deposited in his bank account, Webrid has to make the most difficult delivery of his life. He doesn’t know who his client is, or what he’s carrying, but he knows that a whole lot of very dangerous people are extremely interested in what’s in his head. Literally. And they’ll do whatever it takes to get it.

With the help of some truly alien friends, a simple carter will journey across worlds to deliver his cargo. And hopefully keep his head in the process.

Green Light Delivery is a fascinating, fresh take on sci-fi that pairs the nonstop action and intrigue of Raymond Chandler’s noir novels with a completely alien setting, spanning worlds and introducing us to creatures with a hundred ears, poisonous bones, or radial symmetry instead of bilateral. It’s full of adventure and humour, and will satisfy anyone looking for a space opera that’s a little out there.


Osiris
Author:  E.J. Swift
Series:   Osiris Project 1
Format:  Hardcover, 400 pages
Publisher:  Night Shade Books, June 5, 2012
Price:  $26.99
Language:  English
Genre:  SciFi
ISBN:  978-1-59780-417-2

2012 Debut Author Challenge - June 2012 Debuts
Nobody leaves Osiris. Osiris is a lost city. She has lost the world and world has lost her . . .

Rising high above the frigid waters, the ocean city of Osiris has been cut off from the land since the Great Storm fifty years ago. Most believe that Osiris is the last city on Earth, while others cling to the idea that life still survives somewhere beyond the merciless seas. But for all its inhabitants, Citizens and refugees alike, Osiris is the entire world--and it is a world divided.

Adelaide is the black-sheep granddaughter of the city's Architect. A jaded socialite and family miscreant, she wants little to do with her powerful relatives--until her troubled twin brother disappears mysteriously. Convinced that he is still alive, she will stop at nothing to find him, even if it means uncovering long-buried secrets.

Vikram, a third-generation storm refugee quarantined with thousands of others in the city's impoverished western sector, sees his own people dying of cold and starvation while the elite of Osiris ignore their plight. Determined to change things, he hopes to use Adelaide to bring about much-needed reforms--but who is using who?

As another brutal winter brings Osiris closer to riot and revolution, two very different people, each with their own agendas, will attempt to bridge the gap dividing the city, only to find a future far more complicated than either of them ever imagined.

Osiris is the beginning of an ambitious new science fiction trilogy exploring a near-future world radically transformed by rising seas and melting poles.


The Age of Miracles 
Author:  Karen Thompson Walker
Format:  Hardcover, 288 pages
Publisher:  Random House, June 26, 2012
Price:  $26.00
Language:  English
Genre: SciFi - Dystopia
ISBN978-0-8129-9297-7

2012 Debut Author Challenge - June 2012 Debuts
With a voice as distinctive and original as that of The Lovely Bones, and for the fans of the speculative fiction of Margaret Atwood, Karen Thompson Walker’s The Age of Miracles is a luminous, haunting, and unforgettable debut novel about coming of age set against the backdrop of an utterly altered world.

“It still amazes me how little we really knew. . . . Maybe everything that happened to me and my family had nothing at all to do with the slowing. It’s possible, I guess. But I doubt it. I doubt it very much.”

On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, Julia and her family awake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. The days and nights grow longer and longer, gravity is affected, the environment is thrown into disarray. Yet as she struggles to navigate an ever-shifting landscape, Julia is also coping with the normal disasters of everyday life—the fissures in her parents’ marriage, the loss of old friends, the hopeful anguish of first love, the bizarre behavior of her grandfather who, convinced of a government conspiracy, spends his days obsessively cataloging his possessions. As Julia adjusts to the new normal, the slowing inexorably continues.
Guest Blog by E. J. Swift - Opportunities and challenges in writing about climate change2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - June 2012 Winner2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - June 2012Interview with E.J. Swift - June 9, 20122012 Debut Author Challenge - June 2012 Debuts

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