Ele Fountain talks about MG novel Melt

Ele Fountain talks about her new Middle Grade release Melt, which is out now with Pushkin Press.

Melt is an Arctic adventure. It’s the story of two teenagers from very different backgrounds. When their worlds collide on the melting ice, friendship, courage, and ancient knowledge are what they must rely on to survive. 

How does climate change play into the plot?

The moods and power of the weather in Melt, almost transform it into the role of ‘character’ within the story. It is also holds the key to a major ‘twist’!

What kind of research did you do when writing it?

I researched seasonal sea ice, Inuit stories and traditions, Arctic flora and fauna. I also became briefly expert in how far a snowmobile can travel on a single tank of fuel, and how to fly a light aircraft – and the best way to cook Bannock bread.

What approach did you take to talking about complicated topics, either political or scientific, for younger readers?

Kids notice everything – far more than we often prefer to acknowledge. They know something about most big, complicated topics. Books can help to piece those fragments of information together. They can offer a safe framework within which to explore and question big topics, something solid which can be revisited or discussed with others if they choose.

What are some of your favourite books about climate change?

Breathe by Sarah Crossan and The Last Wild by Piers Torday

Can you remember when your journey with environmental activism started?

When I moved to Ethiopia, the country was experiencing one of its worst droughts in decades, followed by some of the worst flooding. The human cost, the failed crops, the loss of livestock and wildlife were evident in both country and city. The nature of climate change – not just as global warming, but as climate chaos – truly hit me for the first time.

Why is it so important for you personally to see the environment discussed in fiction?

Fiction can provide a context and a narrative for subjects which may otherwise feel more abstract.

Can you share a quote from the book that you hope will resonate with readers?

The bonds which connect people and nature are beginning to fray. Something precious beyond imagining, is coming apart.

What message do you hope your young readers will take away from your work? What steps would you like them to take to be more involved in environmental activism?

That you’re never too young to have opinions about big issues. You’re never too young to make a difference. That the small actions of many can achieve more than a few grand gestures by those in power.

You can find out more about Melt here.

Ele Fountain worked as an editor in children’s publishing where she was responsible for launching and nurturing the careers of many prize-winning and bestselling authors. She lived in Addis Ababa for several years, where she wrote Boy 87, her debut novel. It won four awards and was nominated for nine more, including Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize. Her second novel LOST published to critical acclaim earlier this year.

Published by Lauren James

Lauren James is the twice Carnegie-nominated British author of many Young Adult novels, including The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker, The Loneliest Girl in the Universe and The Quiet at the End of the World. She is also a Creative Writing lecturer, freelance editor, screenwriter, and the founder of the Climate Fiction Writers League. Her upcoming release is Green Rising, a climate change thriller. Her books have sold over a hundred thousand copies worldwide, been translated into five languages and shortlisted for the YA Book Prize and STEAM Children’s Book Award. Her other novels include The Next Together series, the dyslexia-friendly novella series The Watchmaker and the Duke and serialised online novel An Unauthorised Fan Treatise. She was born in 1992, and has a Masters degree from the University of Nottingham, UK, where she studied Chemistry and Physics. Lauren is a passionate advocate of STEM further education, and many of her books feature female scientists in prominent roles. She sold the rights to her first novel when she was 21, whilst she was still at university. Her writing has been described as ‘gripping romantic sci-fi’ by the Wall Street Journal and ‘a strange, witty, compulsively unpredictable read which blows most of its new YA-suspense brethren out of the water’ by Entertainment Weekly. The Last Beginning was named one of the best LGBT-inclusive works for young adults by the Independent. Lauren lives in the West Midlands and is an Arts Council grant recipient. She has written articles for numerous publications, including the Guardian, Buzzfeed, Den of Geek, The Toast, and the Children’s Writers and Artist’s Yearbook 2021. She teaches creative writing for Coventry University, WriteMentor, and Writing West Midlands, providing creative writing courses to children through the Spark Young Writers programme.

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