Tag Archives: eco fiction

Author Interview: Rachel Meehan

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Water's edge cover VFWater's EdgeIMG_4626 (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I recently had the pleasure of conducting an email interview with Rachel Meehan, author of the fast-paced eco-fiction Troubled Times series. She has also authored a stand-alone novel, Eternal Inheritance. These young adult novels are wonderfully told with strong and complex characters. Read on to learn a bit more about Rachel, and then head over to my reviews of her books, Water’s Edge, Power’s Out and Eternal Inheritance.

 

First, a bit about yourself, your family and home?

I live in the south of Scotland – you can see the English Border from my house! It is a rural area, very green and quite sparsely populated. I come from a large family and we are all keen readers. I can remember my father taking all of us to the library at the weekends and we would take out a pile of books each.

I live with my husband and my main passion after writing is the garden.

 

What is the first book you remember falling in love with? What made you love it?

The Silver Crown by Robert C O’Brien. People may be familiar with him as the author of Mrs Frisby & the Rats of NIMH (which is also pretty good) but The Silver Crown is my favourite from early childhood. It’s fast, thrilling, full of danger and it has (like all good books) a strong female lead! His teenage novel Z for Zachariah is also a favourite along with anything at all by John Wyndham……. Basically I love end of the world stories.

 

What was the last book you read?

Just finished The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.. I really enjoyed it, strange and dark and complex.

 

Did you always want to be an author? If not, what did you want to be and why didn’t you follow that path?

I always wanted to do something creative and I trained as a fine artist, specialising in printmaking. I still draw and make things and do my own book covers. There is always a project on the go. When I look back I guess my art work was always full of stories so writing just seemed like the next step……… in between times I have worked for many years in a much more mundane job to pay the bills but I try to dedicate time to writing whenever I can.

 

Is there a special place you prefer to write from?

We have a tiny office space in our house, known as the cupboard! Much of my writing, including this, is done in there. I used to imagine sitting in the summer house looking over the thriving garden and penning the next bestseller but the truth is I would be out gardening within a few minutes…..

 

If you were a character from one of your books, which one would you be, and why?

This is a hard one, I guess Nairne from Water’s Edge (Troubled Times #1), as she is my creation I have put in character traits that I admire. Having said that she can be impatient and a bit too direct sometimes (both things I know I suffer from as well!) I like her self-confidence, which I think is a trait that many female characters lack and I like the fact that she does not rely on her looks at all but on her intellect. Plus by book two, Power’s Out, she has a gun!

 

Are you an eco-warrior at home? What do you do to be kind to the environment?

Yes, I guess I am. We generate some of our own power (when the sun shines… which in Scotland can seem like a special event) and we try to grow our own food. I think about the actions I take in relation to the environment and I get really annoyed by the concept that technology will solve all the environmental issues we face.

 

Do you think that climate change can be slowed or even reversed?

I think it can be slowed if drastic action is taken but I think we are already seeing the effects of it (much like the plot of Water’s Edge). The difference is those effects are being felt in poor countries so the world is prepared to look the other way. I recently saw a comment on social media blaming the Chinese for using too many resources because there are so many of them…. A pretty remarkable opinion when the consumption of raw materials in developed countries per head of population is so much greater. I think it will only be solved if we all make a decision not to need so much stuff…….

 

Have you ever found any signs of Triffids in your garden?

Not yet ….. but I live in hope and at this time of the year they could be lurking in the denser parts of the garden……

 

When can we expect your next book?

The final book in the Troubled Times series, Earth’s Descent, will be out in October, if I get my head down. The whole book is written, now I just need to do the rewrites and rewrites and rewrites….. but then today I had this really good idea for another book!

 

For more information and updates, please have a look at the Cherry House Publishing site or their Facebook page.

 

Water’s Edge by Rachel Meehan

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Water's edge cover VFWater’s Edge by Rachel Meehan, e-book, 227 pages, published by Cherry House Publishing in 2013.

Daniel Grear is a firm believer in climate change, and the detrimental effects that it is having on the earth, especially the weather. To make their lives better, he moves his small family into the Scottish countryside onto acreage, where they can try to become mostly self-sufficient. They raise animals, grow food and produce their own electricity, and collect rain-water in tanks. Nairne and her older brother Zane both help out with chores about the farm after school, and Nairne is showing an aptitude for machines and caring for the animals. Coping with wild weather, including storms, excessive rain and heavy snow falls makes life on the farm harder, but they are much better off than many. As things worsen, and sea levels rise dramatically, parts of the UK and Europe flood, displacing hundreds of thousands of people. With a massive influx of people from further south, Nairne convinces Daniel to take in a family of boarders, a city couple, Garrick and Pam, with their teenage son, Paul. They seem alright on the surface, but Nairne quickly becomes uneasy and distrustful, with her feelings exacerbated when a couple of Garrick’s colleague’s move in next door. As food and fuel sources dry up, and even basic supplies become unaffordable, the Grear’s farm with all of its resources becomes a very desirable location. Nairne soon learns that some people will go to extraordinary lengths to get what they want, and beware anyone that might get in their way.

This is the first book in the Troubled Times series by Rachel Meehan. It deals with the issues of climate change and global warming and themes of human nature, including survival and desperation. The effects of climate change that we have seen so far have drastically accelerated, the polar caps are melting at an alarming rate, raising sea levels and causing storms. There is drought, fires, floods and storms that are devastating vast sections of Earth. These events could really happen to our world if we, as a human race, continue to trash the environment and use reckless amounts of fossil fuels. The author has obviously put a great deal of effort into researching climate change science, and this comes through in the details of this story. She has also put a lot of thought into how people would react if such a widespread catastrophe were to occur. The desperation to survive at any cost is evident in the town, with arguments, looting, fights and thievery, and that’s just the average law abiding citizens! They just want to have enough food, shelter and water to survive. The ones that want to take advantage of the situation, like Garrick and his mates, are ruthless, and concerned with profit and power far more than with getting enough to make their own survival possible. I concur with how this scenario plays, survival, even at the cost of others is basic animal nature, and I think that is how most people would react if they became desperate. That there will be some prepared to take things further is almost inevitable, we hear everyday on the news about people that have done something abhorrent even in the best of times, without remorse or guilt. This could only be amplified in the disarray of a global catastrophe.

All of the characters in Water’s Edge were deeply developed and realistic. Through the story I felt like I really got to know Nairne. She is tough, headstrong and practical, a great female lead character. I admired her abilities about the farm, and her disregard for what others might think of her. At fourteen, she has much more weighing on her shoulders than most, yet she slogs forth with tenacity, honesty and integrity. She’s got a sharp tongue, a temper, and she can come across as a bit abrasive, but I really liked her. I liked Zane and Daniel too, though not as much as Nairne. Zane was a shy follower, who befriends Paul readily. Daniel was a lot like Nairne, though with more years under his belt to learn to control his emotions. In contrast, their new boarders, Garrick and Pam, were extremely different. It was evident from the start that Garrick was a bit off, and Pam seemed to be rather vacuous and incapable of independence. They were well written city characters trying to adjust, and take advantage of, country living. Their friend and colleague, Stevie, and his gang were horrible men, and I can still see Stevie’s evil grin as he hurts someone. The character that changed the most was Garrick’s son Paul. Initially I disliked him, but as the story progressed, he grew on me. He really started trying to make a new life on the farm, helping out, and befriending both Zane and Nairne.

Water’s Edge was interesting,  logical, with well-formed themes and characters, and a little mystery. I enjoyed it, and have already moved onto the second book in the series, Power’s Out. I think it would be best suited to upper primary school and high school students. However, it may not suit less mature children, as the overall theme of disaster and dystopia might be too frightening, and there is some violence and death.

This book really makes me want to live off the grid in a secluded area being self-sufficient, in a well-secured and camouflaged compound with all my family by my side!

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.