Tuesday, April 27, 2010

An Interview with Saci Lloyd, the author of the Carbon Diary books

A few months ago I read The Carbon Diaries: 2015 by Saci Loyd. The book blew me away, and I was delighted when a second book, The Carbon Diaries: 2017, came out earlier this year. Both books are about what could happen should we continue to ignore the threat of global warming. The books are powerful, often humorous, and they will certainly give readers a great deal to think about.

I was so intrigued by the books that I contacted the author and asked her for an interview.

Marya: How did you first get the idea for this book?
Saci: I'm not sure... I think that ideas are quite mysterious. They kind of furple about in the ether and suddenly hook you up.  I remember thinking I wanted to create a gripping story about climate change that was funny too. I had Adrian Mole and Bridget Jones roaming about in my mind. Wondering how they'd cope with a rationing card.

Marya: When you were a child, you spent a lot of time “wandering around the lanes and fields with dogs and horses like some kind of mythical bog child.” Did this immersion in nature make you sensitive to environmental causes when you were young, or was this something that came later?
Saci: Yes, very much so. When I was young I would literally spend every waking hour fishing down on the rocks about a mile or two away from my house. And so there I was, sitting, not catching very much, and all around me is the sea, the sky, birds, rockpools. It sinks in, you know, so that later when you realise the damage that's being done, you feel very protective. But having said that, I would never describe myself as an environmentalist. The damage done to the natural world is a symptom of the lack of global justice in the world. I believe we need to find a better, fairer and more stylish way to live ... and we need to do it fast. 

Marya: Your lead character, Laura, is pretty flawed, which makes her easy to identify with. How did you decide what her flaws would be, or did she decide those for you?
Saci: No conscious decision really. Characters tend to have strong ideas about their own development. Laura pretty much appeared fully formed once the first sentence was written. She just wasn't taking any guidance off anyone, least of all me. 

Marya: So many people are ignoring all the warning sighs that global warming is a reality. What do you have to say to these people?
Saci: Sort your heads out. 

Marya: In your book the chaos and upset in Laura’s home is mirrored by the chaos going all around her because of global warming. Was this something you planned?
Saci: Er, well ... these people are going through a huge transition. Of course they're going to be all over the place. Climate action has become a reality, not something on a march or in a newspaper or on a website.  

Marya: Though it may seem an obvious thing to ask, what was your intention when you decided to write this book?
Saci: I wanted to be part of a movement for change and I wanted to make people laugh.  The characters aren't speaking some pre-ordained preachy dialogue, they are truly facing up to what i believe will be a near future reality. 

Marya: In the second book, The Carbon Diaries 2017, the global warming crisis is escalating. Not only are the world’s sources of fresh water drying up, but social unrest is rife. Laura comes face to face with anger and violence on the streets. This is pretty dark stuff. How did this darkness find its way into your story?
Saci: Well, I didn't intend for it to be dark ... it was a natural extension from what had gone before. As in the first book, everything in this book is meticulously researched and has mostly already happened. If the book is dark it's because reality is dark. Laura herself remains undimmed, though, I hope. She is living through big times, but she is facing it all with fire and scathing wit. 

Marya: At first, the reaction of the British government to the crisis seems unrealistic, but after a while one can see how the authorities, or “feds” as they are called in the books, might indeed take a draconian approach to the situation. Why did you decide to explore this more political aspect? Do you feel that it is important for young people to take part in the political process?
Saci:  It's funny, because I think the first book is just as political as the second, but because it's set in a family and is more domestic in theme, it seems to escape the dreaded 'political' name tag. Many countries in the world already have controlling regimes as described in the book and it's kind of funny to think people consider it shocking that this could happen in the democratic west also. In terms of my research I was very interested in the time around the First and Second World Wars, when Europe became highly polarised.... in essence the battle of whether to work together, internationally and share - or to protect what's yours at all costs. We're seeing this battle writ large in American domestic politics right now. In my experience young people are extremely interested in issues, they are just not interested in a corrupt political system. Yes, it's vital that they get involved. 

Marya: I imagine that many readers are going to want to know what happens to Laura and her friends. They will also want to know what happens to the world. Are humans able to undo some of the damage that the planet has sustained at our hands? What will you say to these readers?
Saci: Ah! Well I think I've left them in a good place... riding off into the smoke of battle! They are young, passionate and their lives are before them. Of course we can undo the damage, but we need a lot of Laura Browns to do it. 

Marya: Is there going to be a third book in the series?
Saci: Not for now. I've left Laura in a GOOD place, off to face a new life. I wouldn't mind coming back to her when she's fifty. See how fiery she still is, heh.

You can find out more about Saci on her website. Make sure you also visit the Carbon Diaries website

No comments: