Today, we’re visiting somewhere very special to all of us, whether we accept it or not, with fellow Crooked Cat author, Jeff Gardiner.
I wanted to suggest a setting that we all know, but perhaps don’t always fully appreciate. Our own amazing planet Earth.
My Gaia trilogy (Pica, Falco and Gaia) explores our relationship with the natural world. Gaia is, of course, Mother Nature – a personification of life itself. Teenager Luke finds himself entangled in adventures that involve shape-shifting, surviving the wilderness, and – perhaps hardest of all – trying to convince people that we are destroying the very planet we live on. But who is going to listen to one boy?
While the most recent United Nations Climate Change Conference meant 195 countries agreed to reduce carbon emissions, some critics were left wondering if the resolutions were in fact enough. Friends of the Earth described the agreements as “not sufficient”. For the UK, we need to ask whether leaving the EU will affect our continuing and important environmental achievements. The Green Party argue that, “It’s only by working with our European neighbours that we can tackle climate change, protect wildlife and reduce pollution”. We’ve done too much damage in such a short space of time. We are killing our planet rather than facing our responsibilities towards it.
I’ve always been inspired by nature. The times when I most feel alive are when I’m walking in a forest, on a hillside or by a lake. It’s difficult to explain to someone else the thrill of seeing a murmuration of starlings, or of sailing on the ocean alongside a breaching whale, but these moments affect you in ways you can’t easily express.
Our relationship with nature as a human race is an odd one. After all, we are animals – part of nature. And yet we often seem to be at odds with nature, as if we’re not actually part of it. We cut down forests and build concrete jungles; we pollute and urbanise as if we own the place Rather than struggle against it, we should embrace it and rediscover the ancient magic of nature.
Imagine if we could shape-shift into an animal that represents our soul? In the first book of the trilogy, Pica, these ‘spirit-animals’ are known as ‘numens’, which is an archaic word linked with ‘numinous’, which implies the presence of a deity or something supernatural. If there is a creator or a mother nature then perhaps it’s not something ‘out there’ at all – not a lurking distant presence – but instead it’s part of us…within us…or it is us.
If my Gaia trilogy makes readers aware of the threat to our dying planet, or prompts us to appreciate our beautiful world and the awe-inspiring creatures within it, then it will have done its job.
Jeff Gardiner is a UK author living in West Sussex. Accent Press are publishing his ‘Gaia’ fantasy trilogy, starting with Pica, a novel of transformation and ancient magic. Falco develops the eco-fantasy theme, and Gaia is due out in September 2017
His other contemporary novels include, Myopia which explores bullying and prejudice; Igboland set in Nigeria during the Biafran War; and Treading On Dreams, a tale of obsession and unrequited love. His work of non-fiction, The Law of Chaos: the Multiverse of Michael Moorcock, (Headpress) examines the work of an iconic British author.
His collection of short stories, A Glimpse of the Numinous, published by Eibonvale Press, contains horror, slipstream and humour. Many of his short stories have appeared in anthologies, magazines and websites.
“Reading is a form of escapism, and in Gardiner’s fiction, we escape to places we’d never imagine journeying to.” (A.J. Kirby, ‘The New Short Review’)
PICA – Amazon UK
FALCO – Amazon UK