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.
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