What’s Going On? How Can We Help? takes readers on a deep dive into the political, social, and economic challenges we face on a recurring basis. Why was this an important book for you to write?
I felt that our politicians and commentators often focus on the symptoms to our current challenges, I wanted to dive deeper and uncover root causes. I also felt that a lot of discussions around these topics seldom end with a single action item. I wanted to know what’s really going on, and more importantly, how could I help.
This book was well researched as well as expertly written. What is your experience in this field and how has that helped you write this book?
This is an area that I have studied all throughout my education and continued long after university. I read every book that I can get my hands on when it comes to social and environmental challenges. I also read a lot of history books in an attempt to identify our recurring mistakes.
What do you find is one common misconception people have about their role as a citizen and how can we overcome it?
I feel that many of what I would deem as poor citizen choices come from a disconnect. In my opinion this is a fundamental factor to unsustainable and unethical decisions.
I don’t think that the majority of people would eat unsustainable products if they saw the acres of rain forest that had to be cleared every second. I don’t think the majority of people would buy palm oil if they personally had to set fire to the trees, inhabited by the last family of orangutans. I don’t think the majority of people would buy designer clothing if they could see the textile factories poisoning the rivers in Bangladesh and subsequently poisoning the local communities and wildlife. Nor would we buy smartphones if we saw the four-year-old children working in the harmful and unregulated cobalt mines in southern Africa, nor coffee if we saw the child slave workers of the Ivory Coast, plastic bottles if we saw them inside a dying turtle’s stomach, the list goes on and on. The unpleasant truth is that the clothes we are wearing, the food we are about to eat, and the items that fill our homes, are likely to carry some form of suffering. I think one of the worst things we can do is to hide from the facts and bury emotions. I believe that the excuse of ignorance is no longer justifiable. Becoming connected again, seems to me, to be crucial – reconnecting with each other and reconnecting to the consequences of our actions. We may have to leave behind ‘comforts’ and re-design our lifestyles, but it is, to say the least, very worthwhile.
It can often be incredibly overwhelming to try to be a good citizen. Something that I find helpful is to focus on the present moment and to try and be as conscious as possible by asking myself questions. I often ask myself, am I helping this person, is this purchase sustainable, am I contributing to a better world? And, at the very least, am I not causing harm?
Am I acting in a certain way because I think it’s the right thing to do or am I doing it just to earn money, or because it’s comfortable?
Being conscious and compassionate in the present moment is a powerful antidote. Much like someone on a recovery program can achieve sobriety one day at a time, I believe that we can greatly improve our environments one action at a time, if we try to make the next decision a conscious and compassionate one. It’s also important to note that this isn’t about preaching nor judging others, but instead researching and taking ownership of our shared challenges, and as a result, inspiring others through positive direct action.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
There are a couple of really exciting projects in the pipeline at the moment. To keep up-to-date it’s best to check our Facebook page.
FREEQUILL dives deep to uncover the origins of our re-occurring challenges; exploring the murky waters of capitalism, consumerism, and our ancient monetary system. Key topics are carefully broken down along an approachable and entertaining journey, packed with fresh perspectives and real-world examples. The highly considered solutions range from a whole new political system to simple tricks and tips that you can implement today.
Posted in Interviews
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A massive tsunami destroys the island home of a little girl. Left without a family, she is rescued by missionaries who name her ‘Patchula’ or ‘Patches’ and take her to Darwin, Australia. What follows is a story of misfortune and tragedy; adoption, death, abuse, forced prostitution, but also of hope as Patches finds joy and meaning, especially in her talent for photography and singing, in spite of the pain. Spanning Australia, America and Japan The Three Lives of One by Lesley J. Mooney is a sweeping tale which carries us across time and continents in search of love and fulfillment.
The book is written in beautiful yet un-flowery prose which is at times poetic. Mooney conjures up place incredibly well, and I found the movement between different continents particularly fascinating –the depiction of the sights, sounds and geography of these places gave me total wanderlust! The description of the tsunami and the wreckage and devastation that follows is extremely affecting and pulled me into the narrative immediately. Mooney is also skilled at portraying her time periods, which begin in the 1920s and move to the 1980s, and the changing biases and turbulent politics of the times.
There are many themes running through the narrative including womanhood, nature and environment, religion, the importance of family, and the value of keeping faith and resilience in times when despair seems never-ending. Although many terrible events occur in Patchula’s life, the book is ultimately about hope in the face of the unknown and what we can achieve if we have the strength to carry on.
Mooney has written a large and diverse cast of characters, and the world she has developed seems utterly real. Patches in particular leaps off the page as a fully-formed individual. Some of the mistreatment she endures is quite harrowing and difficult to read, but it feels very honest. Her hardships elicit great empathy in the reader; I was constantly rooting for her to overcome all of the tragedy in her life and felt completely invested in her development. The more peripheral characters are also well-drawn and prove to be quite emotive, some invoking feelings of intense anger!
One aspect of the book that bothered me slightly was the pacing. We are introduced to Patchula’s predicament, and the narrative subsequently moves very swiftly through the first part of her life and I would have liked this introduction to the story to be slightly more drawn out. Despite this, the rest of the book has a really good tempo, and because there are so many unexpected twists and turns I was always eager to find out what would happen next in Patches’ story.
This book moved me to tears, but it also gave me a great sense of hope. I finished it feeling as though I had been on a long journey–and an extremely rewarding one at that.
Pages: 361 | ASIN: B074M3LW12
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The Bug Boys vs. Professor Blake Blackhart follows Alex and Ian who still have nanobots inside them and retain the ability to take on the different aspects of bugs they swallow. What direction did you want to take this book that was different from the first story?
Well the first book was the origin story. How the kids got their powers, and a lot of get-to-know-you stuff, where they live, etc. In the second book, I didn’t have to go over all that again, at least not as much, so I focused on upping the ante with bigger bugs, robots, action, and a proper super villain character. I also wanted to explore what being a hero was all about.
The writing in your novel is very artful and creative. Was it a conscious effort to create a story in this fashion or is this style of writing reflective of your writing style in general?
This is my writing style. I like to keep things moving along at a brisk pace, and I always jump on an opportunity to see the funny side.
I felt this story was very well written. What’s your experience as a writer?
Thank you! As a kid I was always a story teller. More recently I set up my own movie review blog, and after a couple of years doing that I decided I was ready to construct a full novel. Since I’ve watched and analysed so many films (and books, I read a lot too) I think I’ve got a good handle on what’s needed in a story. It also doesn’t hurt to review one’s work with critique groups either!
Will there be a book three in The Bug Boys series? If so, where will it take readers?
There will, eventually! Tentatively titled, The Bug Boys and The Bullet Ant Queen. This one will spend a lot more time exploring the alien’s planet (The Bug Boys are going to visit!), while I explore the subjects of change, and the environment. This one will likely take a bit longer to put together as I also have another novel I’m working on. Something for adult readers, a little afterlife dramedy!
The fantastic superhero adventure that began with The Bug Boys continues! Alex Adams and Ian Harris take on Blake Blackhart, a disgraced Oxford professor. He discovers the boys’ source of power and plots to use the Secti’s alien technology to wreak havoc across the galaxy.
With a proper real-life supervillain in the village, the boys must step up their superhero game if they are to put a stop to the professor’s nefarious schemes. Along the way, they make new friends, and they encounter new bugs and superpowers. With the fate of the galaxy in the balance, the boys dig deep within themselves to truly understand what it means to be a hero!
Posted in Interviews
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