Story, science, nature.
My new novel POD is a cetacean survival epic, based in real environmental science and marine biology. Its origin was witnessing tourist boats interfering with a native bottlenose dolphin population, the hearing how once there were also spinner dolphins in these waters, until a distant oil spill brought incoming species that forced out others.
Published in April 2022 by Corsair in the UK and Commonwealth, and House of Anansi in North America, and set along an equatorial archipelago that is modelled on somewhere like the Chagos Islands, it’s an underwater thriller where the stakes could not be higher. Main characters are two estranged tribes of dolphins, the gentle and matriarchal spinners, and the raucous, resilient and patriarchal bottlenose megapod. Other citizens of this realm whose stories interweave, are the pilot whales, the humpbacks, a supermale Napoleon wrasse, and various smaller creatures including giant clams. POD is a dark tale because it is based in the truth of the ocean’s current state – but it is also about love, family, heroism – and survival.
THE BEES was my debut novel and I happened upon the amazing fact of the laying worker in the honeybee hive – a world where only the Queen may breed. A sensational true story, just waiting to be told. Currently in adaptation at The National Theatre for a 2022 production.
THE ICE – I went to Svalbard, I don’t know what made me so compelled to go – but the polar worlds have that effect. And there, watching the glaciers booming and crashing too fast and often into the sea, I connected the snippets I heard from the very rich tourists on the little ship, and got my next novel. How conservation can greenwash hard-nosed investment, and then no one is responsible for the unfortunate degradation that follows.
The natural world needs intensive care and there is precious little time – but there is still hope. Business interests in ‘the Blue Economy’ are now staring at algorithms predicting financial collapse if they keep devouring the ‘natural capital’ of the ocean instead of sustainably living off the interest. The same for the terrestrial world. Plunder must eventually end, and enlightened self-interest comes at the very last second – but it is happening. Only evolved and collaborative governments can implement the changes so desperately needed, and stand up to investor greed. And Nature has no vote, no voice, but yours and mine.
There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. (Shakespeare’s JULIUS CAESAR)
This moment, right now, is our flood tide. No more Business-as-Usual.
I love Margaret Mead’s famous quote , ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has.’ And if books can entertain, be based in psychological as well as scientific truth, if they can nourish our empathy, imagination and energy for change, then maybe they too are a kind of citizen. I hope so.
If you’re still reading this far, thank you, and here’s a link to a recent interview: https://writersrebel.com/the-natural-world-is-in-our-keeping