1. The book is set in the year 2112, which is 100 years from when I was at the point in my writing that I needed to pin down a date. I thought about changing it to 100 years from when I finished writing or when it might be published, but I just like how "2112" sounds and looks. That's a long enough period of time for what needs to happen between now and then happen, yet short enough that I can have a character who remembers the way it is now. If my story is a balloon that exists in 2112, my character JJ is the string that ties it back to today.
2. I've always been an environmentalist, professionally I was a programmer, and my life right now largely revolves around my two sons (I actually quit my job to lead the Green Team at my kids' elementary school). But in college I was a writing major and hoped to write novels, so when one of my sons suggested I write a book, the first "what if" that occurred to me was "what if all the bad climate events we're trying to prevent all really happened?" From there it just seemed natural to write for the age group I was currently reading, and have characters who love technology. But there's another reason to write for kids. I'm not interested in engaging adults in a debate about whether climate change is real. That's boring, probably futile, and what good would it do? They've already got jobs and habits. But kids - they're still deciding what they want to be when they grow up, what their values are. They're the ones who can change the world! And it's their world, anyway. There's an amazing trend in education right now coined STEAM, which stands for Science Technology Engineering Art and Math, with programs like First Lego League which teaches kids about real world problems and challenges them to work together to come up with solutions - the opposite of kids sitting alone with video games! We are all over that in my family and I want my book to be a part as well!
3 and 4. I'm very introverted, so the idea of my book being successful is almost scarier than it failing. As a former programmer and current writer, my idea of a perfect day is one spent quietly in a room by myself with my computer! (I know, that sounds so sad! Don't worry, as a mother and volunteer, I get out in the world plenty, I just need my down time to recharge.) So I'll do whatever pr I need to, but hopefully it will be mostly through a website. Actually, a couple ways I think I could enjoy would be visiting schools and speaking with kids, and meeting up with readers at bookshops. TV and/or radio interviews, not so much...
5. Actually, I worked really really hard to make my story and engaging and entertaining as possible, and to try NOT to beat my readers over the head with a MESSAGE! Of course, the environmental message is there, but hopefully woven seamlessly into the tale. Honestly, I think I would be doing my readers a disservice if there wasn't something of substance in with all those pages! I personally feel cheated if I finish a book and none of the characters have grown, or it doesn't have some insight or piece of wisdom about the universe to help me make sense of my own life. So hopefully when my kids - I mean readers! - finish my book, they will feel like they have internalized a little bit of it to carry with them into their lives.
So this is currently what I have for a jacket blurb, just to give you some context:
The year is 2112…
In a world too hot and polluted for humans to survive outside, the iTree is an electronic oasis: Protected from deadly tornadicanes, it provides everything its residents need at the touch of a finger. But that protection comes at a price: All residents must make a significant contribution toward restoring the climate or be thrown out, where they will surely die.
Within the iTree, four podmates are at risk:
- JJ, a 100-year-old scientist who remembers the way things were, is trying (and failing) to synthesize bees.
- Cody, a teenage architectural programmer with a mysterious illness, works all day to keep the weather from damaging the iTree – and all night on a secret project that could destroy it.
- El, fourteen-year-old daughter of privileged genomicists, rebels at the school's insistence on teaching plant genetics when she passionately wants to bring back animals.
- Serena, a nine-year-old orphan whose abilities have been misdiagnosed as disabilities, is due to be evicted on her next birthday.
When El's best friend is forced to make a dangerous journey to the North Pole to take part in an experimental program to repair the ice cap, El makes a decision that turns their world upside down. Will the podmates come together in time to help save the Earth? Will they even be able to save themselves?