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Friday, December 19, 2014

Apocalypse Weird: Jennifer Ellis talks about her book Reversal and how her research inspires her writing

It's Friday, time for a new Apocalypse Weird author interview! Today my guest is Jennifer Ellis, author of A Pair of Docks and A Quill Ladder. Jennifer has a PhD in Geography and has spent many years researching climate change, global food security and alternative energy. Sound like the perfect background to not only envision apocalyptic scenarios, but also how to survive them. Jennifer is here today to tell us about her story set in the Apocalypse Weird world, a one of a kind project started by a guild of independent authors who got together and decided to make their own brand world (more info on AW at the end of the post).

Welcome, Jennifer!

EEG: How did you get involved in the AW project?

JE: Michael Bunker approached me and asked me if I wanted to contribute. I met Michael and Nick Cole through the Synchronic: 13 Tales of Time Travel and Tales From Pennsylvania anthologies and have been the beneficiary of their witty repartee and ongoing publishing advice ever since. Once I heard how exciting Apocalypse Weird was going to be, of course I said yes!

EEG: Tell us a little bit about your AW story and its premise

JE: Reversal is set on Ellesmere Island in the Arctic. It is a story of mysterious polar bears, changes in magnetic north, wild polar storms and secrets—lots of secrets.

Sasha Wood arrives at the international research station on Ellesmere Island to investigate the recent resurgence of Arctic pack ice. The polar bears have grown increasingly aggressive and crafty in the past few years, but the station caretaker, Soren Anderson seems more than attractive enough to make up for the dangers. An inexplicable and temporary blindness leaves three researchers lost in a blizzard, and leads to the escape of all the sled dogs. When everyone can see again, all of the station compasses and GPS units say north is south, the station has been cut off from the outside world, and giant craters filled with methane are starting to appear all over the island.

Sasha and Soren endeavor to rescue the dogs and find the other researchers and are pursued by demons, polar bears, and rogue researchers along the way. When Vincent Robinson, the caretaker for the Antarctic research station, inexplicably arrives on their doorstep, they know the world has been turned upside down—literally and figuratively.

EEG: Your book In the Shadows of the Mosquito Constellation is also a dystopian -- will there be any intersection between the two worlds?

JE: In the Shadows of the Mosquito Constellation is very much set in the real world, so no, probably not. Mosquito is a true-life adventure of what might happen if we were faced with economic collapse, peak oil and climate change here in rural British Columbia. There are no demons or magical elements, although it is exciting in a different way. It is about how people who have set up a reasonably successful and only slightly dysfunctional communal farm survive a real apocalypse in which they are beset from all sides by raiders, refugees, and illness. They also have internal divisions with regard to how to deal with these things. The novel revolves around the fundamental question of what our moral obligations are to others in a world torn apart. There is also a love triangle thrown in for good measure.

EEG: How did you get the idea for In the Shadows of the Mosquito Constellation?

JE: In my day job, I do a lot of work in the area of climate change adaptation and back when I wrote In the Shadows of the Mosquito Constellation, I was also doing a lot of energy-related research into world oil reserves and alternative energy viability. I also had just finished reading The Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler, which is about peak oil and the “converging catastrophes of the twenty-first century”—a riveting read for those of us writing in the dystopian fiction genre. If The Long Emergency doesn’t make you want to go find a bunker or remote farm somewhere, I don’t know what will. In any event, I became fascinated with the notion of how people could live, and even potentially thrive, in a post-apocalyptic world. In the Shadows of the Mosquito Constellation is a kinder dystopia if you will, in which people with our modern sensibilities are trying to rebuild community. They face a lot of serious challenges of course, which is what makes the book dramatic and hopefully exciting.

EEG: Sounds really intriguing. What are you currently working on, besides the AW project?

JE: Too much! I have a short that is part of The Complicated Weight of Air, a serial I am developing about a gold heist in a smelter town that I have to write over Christmas. I also have another conspiracy theory short to write about Elvis and the Bermuda Triangle in January, and a full-length novel about a mine development in a small town gone amok to finish in March (it is about 70 percent done). It’s a bit more of a satire and is entitled Confessions of a Failed Environmentalist. Then I have to turn my attention to a second AW novel potentially, and the third novel in my middle-grade Derivatives of Displacement series.

EEG: That's certainly a lot on your plate, but it all sounds very exciting. I personally can't wait to read your complete serial, The Complicated Weight of Air. Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Jennifer.

To find out more about Jennifer's books, visit her website and follow her on Twitter.

Intrigued by Apocalypse Weird? Then read the first book, The Red King, by Nick Cole, which is completely free and sets the world of Apocalypse Weird. You can also sign up for our mailing list to make sure you don't miss the big launch on february 23rd. And you can join us on Facebook, too.

Michael Bunker also has a great post about Apocalypse Weird on his blog.

author Hank Garner is also doing a series of podcasts on Apocalypse Weird: last week he interviewed Nick Cole, and this week Hank just posted a new podcast in which Michael Bunker talks about his AW book, Digger, the first in his Texocalypse world.

And if you are a writer and you would like to take part in the Apocalypse Weird project, Nick has a wonderful post where he explains how to apply.

Apocalypse Weird Authors:

Nick Cole
Michael Bunker
Matthew Mather
Lesley Smith
Jennifer Ellis
Chris Pourteau
Kim Wells
Forbes West
Eric Tozzi
Weston Ochse
Steven Savile
Kevin Summers
Tim Grahl
Ellen Campbell (editor)
Stefan Bolz
Hank Garner
Lyndon Perry

1 comment:

  1. I like the idea of a kinder dystopia. Congratulations, Jennifer!


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