Cli-Fi Novelists Writing Process Blog Tour

Climate fiction bookshelf
A climate fiction bookshelf
I’m participating in the “Cli-Fi Novelists Writing Process Blog Tour,” which so far includes the writers Risa Bear, Lisa Devaney, Karen Faris, and Clara Hume. Look for more contributions on the Clifi Books website and Dan Bloom‘s blog.

What are you working on now, or just finished? I’ve recently finished Carbon Run, which is a science fiction / climate fiction adventure set in the mid-2050s. The story begins when Bill Penn and his daughter Anne run afoul of the feared Bureau of Environmental Security. An accidental fire at their ranch destroys an endangered species, a capital crime in the mid-21st century. Bill, now a fugitive, is pursued by BES Deputy Inspector Janine Kilel, who takes Anne halfway across the world as bait to draw out her father from hiding. I’m now shopping Carbon Run to agents and publishers. I’ve also started a second book in the Carbon Run series, about an impending war between the people who live on the last inhabitable places on earth: The north and south polar regions. My other unpublished novel, The Vault of Perfection, whose main theme is genetic engineering, is now in the hands of beta readers.

How does your work fit into the cli-fi genre? Climate change is a fact. Until recently, most science fiction writers have either ignored the subject or avoided it. Or publishers have said No to manuscripts for reasons known only to themselves. No matter how you feel about the politics or the science, the changes we’ll see in the coming decades are ripe ground for storytelling, and I’ve been surprised at how little fiction is published with climate change as a central theme. Margaret Atwood, Nathaniel Rich, and others are showing the way, and I’m hoping to make a small contribution to the growing cli-fi genre.

Why do you write what you do? It’s great fun, and I’ve made good friends over my career. Writers are the coolest people ever.

How does your writing process work? For my novels, I work up a basic outline of plot and characters, and then get right into the text. I like George R.R. Martin’s continuum with architects on one end (they plan everything down to the last detail) and gardeners on the other (they plant a seed, cultivate it, and hope for the best). I’m somewhere in the middle. Spending excessive time on planning leaves me frustrated, because I want to get into the story. And I need a destination and a basic road map to reach the end. None of that is important, however, if you don’t practice. Like anything, you can’t get good at something if you don’t work every day. Name one well-regarded writer or artist who hit pay dirt with his/her first work. Not many, I bet. That’s because most practice for years before they are published or get recognized.

Check out my Six Rules for Writing Climate Fiction.

One thought on “Cli-Fi Novelists Writing Process Blog Tour

  1. very good post Joe and looking forward to reading yr book soon.and nice to see your shout out here to the ongoing tour re ”I’m participating in the “Cli-Fi Novelists Writing Process Blog Tour,” which so far includes the writers Risa Bear, Lisa Devaney, Karen Faris, and Clara Hume. Look for more contributions ….”

    and some notes: re ”water world” the movie — and also re ”the postman” movie, on a personal side note, i am personal friends with david brin who wrote the book the movie was based on, and i went to college with classmate and fellow weed smoker on the bookstore roof 1969 steve tisch who bought the film rights frm david and made the movie as producer, and when i recently saw the postman on cable tv the other day i wrote to david and ask him if he thought the movie and book had a cli fi theme and he said you know danny with the passage of time and now that i see your cli fi meme getting a lot of attentio worldwide and it makes sense, yes ”the postman” is a cli fi book and a cli fi movie, if you want to see it that way, paraphrase unquite. but david is a sci fi writer himself and he does not call his own novels cli fi. but he sees cli fi now a a subgenre of sci fi and that’s cool too.


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