After reading “Hope, A History of the Future”, I jumped at the opportunity to interview the author via email. I was keen to find out more about the story, not only as a writer and climate activist, but as a reader.
You can find more about Gayle and her work at her website, hopeahistoryofthefuture.com
Q: It is somehow comforting to view a world that has figured out all the problems we face today, and to see the beauty of what such a world could look like?
A: Yes, definitely. It is comforting to me and I hope for my readers to consider what a peaceful, just, sustainable world might look like. It is hard to create such a world without first imagining what it might look like and maybe more importantly what it might feel like to live in such a world. As one of my characters, Ruth, says in Hope, A History of the Future, “Dreams are the first drafts of reality.”
What was the motivation or impetus to tell the story from this perspective?
I believe the world needs stories–– not just facts to build a better world. People need hope. Humans are not good at imagining positive outcomes. We are hard wired to see problems. It’s a leap for us to learn to see solutions. But as humans we are oriented towards stories. And stories can engage a reader where facts alone can fail. So, Hope, A History of the Future is a hybrid. Fiction based on those facts.
I noticed you don’t specify which cities where the story is set. Can you talk about that decision?
The looming climate catastrophe if it goes unchecked is not going to be limited to a few places in the world. The city I depict in Hope, A History of the Future, though vaguely located on the west coast of North America, could be any coastal city, anywhere in the world.
There are a lot of comments throughout the book that sound like things we say today, justifications we make to ourselves and others for why we are not taking action. Where did this idea come from?
I too noticed how people talk about the climate crisis, how afraid many people are and how we all have a tendency to avoid this difficult topic or imagine someone else is going to solve the situation. I wanted my characters to embody those thoughts and conversations ––to make them visible to the readers. I think when we are able to see in a story others holding our views it helps us examine our denial and fear. When we do that there is a better chance we can act in unison to save our planet.
What is your background (if any) in climate related fields (science or activism or something else)?
I am a former educator, a parent, a grandparent. I am part of a local progressive radio program. My degrees are in social science and education. But most of all I’m an avid reader and a very concerned citizen.
The book uses POV (3rd person limited) from multiple characters in the current timeline, as well as people from the future at different stages of their lives, and so on. In addition to shifting characters, the timeline bounces around between the present, fairly linear timeline and other times in different time periods, also out of order. Can you talk about how you came to use this complex format?
I realized as I was writing “Hope, A History of the Future” that I wanted to bring the vision of the world celebrating 100 Years of Peace in 2042 to the forefront. There are a growing number of Cli-Fi disaster books but fewer help the reader imagine an alternative outcome. I wanted the reader to see a vision of a peaceful, just, verdant world early in the book. So, I pulled some of those scenes up front and continue to sprinkle visions of that world throughout. It does mean the reader has to be able and willing to jump through time. I hoped that because, in the story we are reading from a history book that has fallen out of time and space and into the Denzell family’s home, the reader is able to understand that each of the members of the family are opening the book and reading from different places.
How did you keep all this straight while you were writing?
I had some sleepless nights figuring that out! I compartmentalized each chapter in the history book from the future so they were mostly independent. Then like a deck of cards I could shuffle them about. Adding the framing story of the Denzell family around each chapter.
What gives you hope in the face of climate and ecosystem collapse?
Most people want to live in peaceful, just, verdant world. We actually know what to do to fix it. We have a lot of the technology necessary to solve the issues we face. I hope that when people both understand what is at stake and can see an alternative, they will demand that we save ourselves and the planet all life depends on.
How do you cope with what you know and understand about the situation?
I have learned to be a lot like Grandmother in the story. I’ve learned to cope with fear by facing and accepting death. I’ve also come to understand and accept that most things are out of my control but that because I can’t do everything doesn’t mean I can’t do something. I get to choose how I respond no matter what happens. I choose hope. I choose to try and nudge the conversation about the climate crisis towards thinking about the world we want to create. Hope, A History of the Future is based on historical and legal precedence, that I include in the back of the book. Peace, sustainability and justice are worthy and enduring concepts. History is on the side of hope ––if we can pull together through this climate crises.
What advice do you have for writers writing about climate and speculative fiction?
Science fiction writers, speculative fiction writers have a unique opportunity to shape the future. My advice is –-write the world into being. Challenge yourself to write something other than the easy disaster. Write about solutions too.
What’s up with the cat, Plato/Hope?
Plato, the cat, is my trickster, my muse with nine lives. He is currently nudging me to write the sequel to Hope, A History of the Future in which we figure out saving the world without going through an environmental collapse. He makes me laugh and I hope my readers enjoy him as much as I do. With his tail in the shape of a question mark he asks the ultimate question. What does the future hold?
What do you hope readers get out of reading your book?
My greatest aspiration for Hope, A History of the Future is to nudge the world toward a peaceful, just, verdant sustainability. People want solutions not just problems. Hope, A History of the Future offers viable solutions particularly to the underlying laws and ideas that guide and hold up the way we do things, the way we think about our relationships to each other, and the planet we share with all life.
Some scientists and individuals think we may have already gone too far to avoid a climate collapse and the end to the world as we know it. Hope, A History of the Future also transports the reader over that catastrophe horizon and askes, what if the worst happens? What could arise next? The reader is left in a position of power to grapple with the questions “Then what?” “Now what?” –– oddly freeing our minds by removing the immobilizing effects of facing such a disaster by accepting it.
One quiet afternoon in 2037, Joyce Denzell hears a thud in her family’s home library and finds a book lying in the middle of the room, seemingly waiting for her―a book whose copyright page says it was published in the year 2200. Over the next twenty-four hours, each of the Denzell family members discovers and reads from this mystical history book from the future, nudged along by their cat, Plato.
As the various family members take turns reading, they gradually uncover the story of Gabe, Mia, and Ruth—a saga of adventure, endurance, romance, mystery, and hope that touches them all deeply. Along the way, the Denzells all begin to believe that this book that has seemingly fallen out of time and space and into their midst might actually be from the future—and that it might have something vitally important to teach them.
Engaging, playful, and thought-provoking, Hope is a seven-generation-spanning vision of the future as it could be—based on scientific projections, as well as historical and legal precedence—that will leave readers grappling with questions of destiny, responsibility, and the possibility for hope in a future world.
Publisher : SparkPress (April 19, 2022)
Language : English
Paperback : 336 pages
ISBN-10 : 1684631238
ISBN-13 : 978-1684631230
You can buy Hope: A History of the Future at Amazon or Bookshop
Leave a Reply