Kate Grenville’s environmental pep talk


Kate Grenville in the wilderness

Artists and Climate Change

Kate Grenville’s lecture was presented at the “Festival of Ideas” at the University of Melbourne in June 2009. The theme of the festival was “Climate Change / Cultural Change”.

Writers in a Time of Change

I read Kate Grenville’s very inspiring speech some time ago. It was reprinted in The Age newspaper, I believe. It resonated strongly with me. I too popped in to a conference around 1993-ish at Sydney University. It was about Biodiversity. I went to a public forum where scientists spoke frankly from the floor after a panel discussion. One of the subjects raised was the need to translate science talk into public understanding. We all know how that can go awry given the denialists or the climate change counter movement. How can greed and wealth so easily beat science and truth?

It’s easy to remember your fellow school mates who liked science. They were generally not the outgoing types, were they? The scientists at that forum were at a loss as to how to get their messages out to the general public, as was the despairing scientist who approached Kate Grenville.

I’ve been trying! Much of my efforts in writing Ektek and my adult novel have been to translate some basic science into fiction. Just wait until people get to read them!

Publishers’ comments, when rejecting the first book, include the following:

‘There is much to love about Last chance to eat, which is so imaginatively conceived, with plenty of action and humour.’ Davina Bell, Penguin

‘You have a challenging and original idea in Ektek and the nemesis scenario provides a horrifyingly vivid focus for the drama.’ Jennifer Castles, Allen and Unwin

‘…there’s some very interesting (dare I say it, original) ideas in here — I’m quite interested in the idea of a group of animals tackling ecological terrorism.’ Marisa Pintado, Hardie Grant Egmont

But no publisher can find a spot for Ektek on their list. It’s certainly benefitted from constant reworkings. I cannot deny my writing has improved over the years. I’ve had a lot of help from Clare Renner and Lucy Cotter and Philip Millar and Petra Poupa to make the trilogy a lot more readable.

We do have to change. We do have to learn in a different way. I’d love to get involved in this debate. But if I can’t get my books into readers orbits then I can’t join the conversation.

It’s up to you! If only you would read my books and comment. That way I might be able to improve them! Thanks in advance!

And, if you’re an artist, get with Kate Grenville and start talking about change.




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