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"A time of hot chocolatey mornings, and toasty marshmallow evenings, and, best of all, leaping into leaves!" -Winnie the Pooh
Welcome to another issue of Dragonfly’s news. The theme this month is change, of which November is a harbinger. By now, you probably get it: My life revolves around seasons. Autumn is my favorite, and I was fortunate in late October to visit family and travel through beautiful leaf changes in New England. Even more meaningful was spending time with those I love. Hanging out with people I’ve known my whole life, or theirs, I feel older, but I haven’t changed that much, not since I first fell in love with Winnie the Pooh. I still dig toasty marshmallow evenings and falling into leaves.
Monthly Book Recommendation
My niece sent me a book over the summer, and it took me a while to gather the courage to read it. Of course, once I did, I couldn’t put it down. The book is Steph Jagger’s Everything Left to Remember: My Mother, Our Memories, and a Journey Through the Rocky Mountains. With her mother’s Alzheimer’s progressing rapidly, Steph treated her to various national parks in the US. They camped, rode horses, watched the sky, hiked, fell in love with the Old Faithful geyser, and so much more. What an awe-inspiring memoir.
You see, I had been afraid to read it due to older women in my family being susceptible to Alzheimer’s and dementia. I recently had a talk with my cousin, and she said, “Now, let’s just think about this, but are you afraid of getting there too?” I thought about that, agreeing that it’s crossed my mind many times. But I’m more worried about those I love getting dementia than me. Not only is my mother getting older, but I’ve already lost my dad to another debilitating disease, Parkinson’s. Sometimes you just have to face your fears, so I gobbled Jagger’s book up like there was no tomorrow. I recalled the many times my mom came to visit us and, like Steph did with her mother, we chose to spend time in the great outdoors, which seemed crucial for healing, fantastic future memories, and getting to know more about who we are while hanging out in rivers, forests, and mountains. My mother has been hiking, canoeing, and even rafting on a grizzly bear and salmon tour with us. She and Dad raised me with the value of appreciating our natural world, and that is where we also seem to find the most truth and happiness. Steph’s book reminded me of my own memories with my mother, and the haunting beauty we find in nature. Whether it’s the environment around us that’s being altered, or our own lives and health, good stories can bring help navigate us through the changes.
November World Eco-fiction Spotlight
This month we go back to Australia to explore various novels by author James Bradley. James is a prolific fiction and nonfiction writer of stories that creatively imagine how we find (and lose) ourselves in the unfolding reality of climate catastrophes. The article is partly a reboot, as I’ve talked with James about his books before, but this time, I also look at his newest novel Ghost Species. About his novel Clade, James told me:
I wanted to give people an affective sense of what it might be like to live through the next century or so. But I also wanted to create space for people to think about the possibility of change. Frederic Jameson famously said that it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism, a notion the late Mark Fisher picked up on when he described capitalism as filling every horizon and blotting out all alternatives. But once I started thinking seriously about time, and deep time in particular, I found myself reminded of the degree to which a consideration of both reminds us that the future isn’t set; it’s contingent, which means it can be changed. So, although the book doesn’t set out to offer alternatives, it quite deliberately makes the space for them, both by setting the events of the book against the immensity of geological time, so we’re reminded that our lives, our economy, our politics, are really little more than blips, and by emphasising the way history keeps happening, even after what appears to be the end.
Dragonfly’s database just hit 977 pages. That’s a decade of building a library of fiction dealing with everything from animals to water to climate issues to fungi to non-human-centric stories. Eco-fiction is probably synonymous with nature fiction, green fiction, and somewhat with environmental fiction, but I use the term more as an aid to provide an eco-critical perspective of stories falling into any genre that strongly connects with natural ecosystems.
Here’s a sample of some new and upcoming books to look out for (you can find more at Dragonfly.eco):
Animal Truth and Other Stories by Sharona Muir
Africa Risen (anthology) by Sheree Renée Thomas, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, and Zelda Knight; my copy will get here tomorrow and I’m so excited to read it!
Arboreality by Rebecca Campbell
Monsters Born and Made by Tanvi Berwah
Meet us by the Roaring Sea by Akil Kumarasamy
Harvest Moon (anthology) by Agam Agenda
Bliss by Jeff VanderMeer
Salt and Skin by Eliza Henry-Jones
Valli by Sheela Tomy
Weird Fishes by Rae Mariz
Speaking of changes, I keep drifting away from social media and continue to wonder how to get my own voice out there when it comes to raising awareness of ecologically oriented fiction and my own stories. I left Facebook and Instagram long ago. I’m still on Twitter but haven’t been active there since late last month. I have longed for a more independent platform that isn’t based on ads, algorithms, or corrupt owners. I started an account at Mastodon, which is gathering steam lately and isn’t owned by corporate entities; it also has rules against hate speech. Though not as large as some of the other social media platforms, it seems warmer, more intimate, and I’ve even found local artists and authors near me who I wasn’t aware of before.
My newest novel, The Stolen Child, is out in e-book format on November 30. The paperback is coming in January. While the paperback will be distributed world-wide, I’ve decided to release the e-book only on Smashwords. Again, I’m trying to work more independently these days and stray as much as possible from big companies whose business ethics are questionable. I feel as a publisher and author of environmental literature, it’s the least I can do.
The Stolen Child is the final part of the Wild Mountain duology. Follow the first book’s characters from Back to the Garden. The sequel takes place twenty years later, when Fae, Leo and Fran’s youngest child, goes missing from their new mountain home in northern British Columbia. Family and friends sail to Ireland to rescue her. Of course, the story is a nod to the poem by the same name, by William Butler Yeats, as well as his idea of getting away from civilization, as written in “The Lake Isle of Innisfree”.
Speaking of Yeats’ poetry, I actually grew nine rows of beans over the summer. I’ve written a new Backyard Wildlife post about fog, the end of summer, our harvest, and going through Hurricane Fiona.
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 over 900 books posted 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
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.