It was in Africa where "humanity first sought to make sense of our world, the cosmos above, the natural flora and fauna below." -Intro, Africa Risen
Welcome to Dragonfly News’s February newsletter, a place to explore new—and sometimes classic—content in the world of eco-fiction, a broad and diverse genre whose storytelling relies on the natural world.
I posted last year that a redesign might be coming soon at Dragonfly.eco but that I wasn’t sure about drastic changes all at once. Changes will happen in small steps, but I recently created a new header in Canva that combines a couple breathtaking images that capture the mood and aesthetic illustrating what Dragonfly.eco is all about.
Another piece of exciting news is that we’re going to celebrate our 1,000 book post very soon. I’m at 996 right now! It’s taken over ten years to get this far.
World Eco-fiction Spotlight
I get to post the beautiful book cover of Africa Risen in another newsletter (it was my recommended read a couple months ago). This month, it’s my world eco-fiction spotlight. I chat with the anthology’s editors Sheree Renée Thomas, Oghenechovwe Ekpeki, and Zelda Knight. These three amazing, award-winning authors did a four-person interview with me asking them some questions about Africa Risen and their other work. This work is risen and imagines or reflects worlds and characters embracing the natural environment and all its importance, including such short stories as “The Blue House”, “Mami Wataworks”, and “Cloud Mine”.
We talk about the editors’ experiences working together to create this anthology as well as their seminal work to help raise Black speculative fiction voices and stories. Created in the legacy of the award-winning anthology series Dark Matter, Africa Risen celebrates the vibrancy, diversity, and reach of African and Afro-Diasporic SFF and reaffirms that Africa is not rising—it’s already here.
In the book’s introduction, we’re told: “As the origin of humanity and home to the world’s oldest civilizations, Africa is the origin story of storytelling.” For anyone into reading stories set around the world, this is such a powerful statement and propelled me to read more. I wanted to find out more about how Africanfuturism, Africanjujuism, and Afrofuturism had evolved from their beginnings to now. And I wanted to particularly explore with the editors how climate and ecological concerns are addressed in this anthology.
Look forward to next month when I talk with Waubgeshig Rice about his novel Moon of the Crusted Snow, including some news about the upcoming sequel.
Book of the Month Recommendation
This month I want to talk about The Storygraph, which is an alternative to Amazon’s Goodreads. Like Twitter’s alternative, Mastodon, it’s not as active, but I try to completely avoid or limit my activity at social media platforms run by unethical billionaires who also allow hate and profound disinformation on their platforms. The Storygraph began a 12 Months of Nature reading challenge this year, so I signed up and am having a great time reading books I chose based upon their monthly prompts. You can see the books I chose here. I went on a reading spree after making this list but need to catch up on my monthly challenge for February. My books (some read already) are Elif Shafak’s The Island of Missing Trees, John Ngong Kum Ngong’s Tears of the Earth, Nan Shepherd’s The Living Mountain, Caitlín R. Kiernan’s Agents of Dreamland, Fungi (anthology), Chi Zijian’s The Last Quarter of the Moon, Waubgeshig Rice’s Moon of the Crusted Snow, Stephen Collis’s Once in Blockadia, Jesymn Ward’s Salvage the Bones, Africa Risen (anthology), Erica Berry’s Wolfish, Nalo Hopkinson’s Brown Girl in the Ring, and a bonus and classic weird short tale, Luigi Ugolini’s “The Vegetable Man”.
This month’s Indie Corner spotlights Jill Stukenberg and her novel News of the Air. The story takes place in northern Wisconsin, a place of my youth, where I spent countless hours whitewater rafting, camping, and hiking. It was once my dream to someday own a cottage in the woods there, so Jill’s book intrigued me from the get-go. As Foreword Reviews describes it: “…a poignant, captivating, and troubling novel about people searching for connection in a rustic, bucolic setting that is far from utopian.”
New and Upcoming Books
I’ve posted a few new novels this month (see Dragonfly.eco for more), including:
The Marigold by Andrew F. Sullivan
Dinosaurs by Lydia Millet
Black River by Nilanjana S. Roy
Camp Zero by Michelle Min Sterling
Pod by Laline Paull
Cold by Jim Pearce
The Stolen Child by Clara Hume
What Else Is New
You always have an open invitation to join Rewilding Our Stories, a thriving Discord community discussing how we involve natural environments in fiction and creative non-fiction. The latest news includes: a writing challenge for the Rewilding Our Stories website to provide an essay about how climate change is affecting a place you live and love. Also, we’re planning our participation in this year’s Flights of Foundry. We’ll be discussing science communication in speculative eco-fiction.
I’m a volunteer editor and writer for Nova Scotia’s Ecology Action Centre. Look forward to my piece in their upcoming spring magazine. I don’t think I can spoil it, but I’m excited by it. My last piece was Ecological Fiction Inspires Action, which covered Canadian authors.
The Stolen Child
I appreciate all who want to help support Dragonfly.eco by checking out the occasional novel I publish. The Stolen Child is finally out in print this month. It’s the final part in the Wild Mountain duology and follows Back to the Garden, my debut novel. In the sequel, we fast-forward two decades, to the turn of the next century, as the main characters from the first novel are now middle-aged adults with children growing up, ranging from age 11—the youngest, Fae—to teenagers and young adults. The family and friends still reside on Wild Mountain in Idaho but are forced out of their home forever as a wildfire destroys everything. Upon the invitation of a man named Jack Gibson—whom they met years before—and his friend and hereditary chief Piney Mack, they pack up and move what’s left of their belongings to a place in British Columbia called Khutzeymateen, which was once a grizzly bear sanctuary, now reoccupied by its First Peoples, the Tsimshian First Nations. Fae loves to take off by herself, riding her horse and reading or admiring nature. She begins to sense that she’s being watched. Shortly after they arrive at their new home in BC, she is kidnapped. The community finds out that Jack’s cousin Ian is both the kidnapper and inside informant to Jack. The mystery unravels as Fae’s family sails new waters to the Arctic Ocean and then to Ireland following Ian’s clues. Told in first-person narratives/journal entries by the adults trying to find Fae, the novel is broken up by interludes, with Fae’s thoughts as well as what’s happening with the New Dawn religious cult.
The novel falls into the genre of speculative eco-fiction and, while telling what I hope is an inspiring story, it also explores climate change, dangerous cults, the resilience of friends and family, rewilding, and living sustainably with our land, air, and water. Click here for the press kit.
In case you’ve missed these exciting resources at Dragonfly, which are constantly being updated, check ‘em out!
Rewilding Our Stories: A Discord community, now expanded into a website, where you can find resources, reading, and writing fun in fiction that relates strongly to nature and environment. There’s a new submissions call-out for place writing!
New subreddit: Ecofiction. A place to find almost daily news about novels, articles, news, and films in the field of rewilded and ecological fiction.
World’s biggest playlist? Our environmental/nature song-of-the-week playlist goes back to 2015.
Book recommendations: a growing list of recs.
Eco/climate genres: They’re all over the place, and here’s an expanding compendium.
Inspiring and informative author quotes from Dragonfly’s interviews.
List of ecologically focused games.
List of eco/climate films and documentaries.
Eco-fiction links and resources.
Book database: Database of nearly 1,000 book posts at Dragonfly.eco.
Turning the Tide: The Youngest Generation: Fiction aimed toward children, teens, and young adults.
Indie Corner: The occasional highlight of authors who publish independently.
Backyard Wildlife: A hidden gem exploring how we are rewilding our own backyard and meadow. Also check out our new meadow cam!
Artists & Climate Change. This is an extraordinary resource delving into all kinds of the arts focused on climate change. For a while now they’ve been rerunning my world eco-fiction spotlights. I’m a core writer for their team, and I’m both honored and grateful. Look for my “Wild Authors” series there. Note that this site is indefinitely paused at the moment, but the owner let me know that the content isn’t going away.
I’ve been helping with the social media at Climate Fiction Writers League. Check them out!