Climate Change Fiction: Peter May & Paul Hardisty

 Peter May & Paul Hardisty tell We’d Like A Word hosts Paul Waters & Stevyn Colgan about bringing our climate emergency into mainstream popular fiction, in this 3-part episode. Peter May’s new crime thriller A Winter Grave (published by riverrun), & is set in Scotland in 2051. Paul Hardisty’s adventure thriller The Forcing (published by Orenda Books), & is set in a future when younger voters turn on the older generation they blame for destroying our world. Listen here.

Do we need the authors of popular genre fiction to include climate emergency themes in their fiction? Lots of us ignore the science of climate change, so are stories which appeal to our imagination the way to get the message across? Do authors have a duty to reflect climate change, or does the creative heart rebel against being told what to do? Why don’t more authors do it already? Is our looming climate catastrophe just too bleak? Too difficult? Do readers need happier endings? Do agents & publishers? How should authors get the balance right between waking readers up and scaring them into despairing inaction? And how do you wrap it all up in exciting, enjoyable stories?

Peter May is the bestselling author of thrillers series set in Scotland, France & China – as well as prescient standalone thrillers, like Lockdown, which predicted the pandemic lockdown. We’ve delved into his past already on We’d Like A Word, but had to have him back (the first time we’ve done this with a guest) when he came out of retirement to lead the literary vanguard trying to communicate with big audiences about climate change in a new way. He’s also released an anthem by the Peter May Band to accompany A Winter Grave. You’ll hear it on the show – Don’t Burn The World.  (Co-written by Dennis McCoy.) You can stream it on the usual music platforms & watch the YouTube video here: ⁠Don’t Burn the World – The Peter May Band – YouTube⁠  You can also hear Peter’s previous surreal episode involving being hired as a private detective by giant geckos here: ⁠⁠

Paul Hardisty lives by Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. He got there from Canada via a bewildering series of steps through the world’s trouble zones, including, in November, Ukraine. As a leading environmental scientist, engineer & lobbyist of politicians, he knows how urgent it is for people to wake up on climate change.

We also talk about Amitav Ghosh; resurrecting the book in your drawer that you thought would never get published; The Rig on Amazon Prime; Kate Raworth & Doughnut Economics; & Negeley Farson & The Way of a Transgressor.