When I began writing The Anti-Cinderella Chronicles, I didn’t know much about the characters. I knew a bit about their history together, about what their future would hold, but as far as interests, careers . . . that was still hazy.
However, I knew from Fifty Frogs that Kyra’s roommate was Vivian’s sister Shelby, and Shelby was a graduate student at a college in Maine. So that meant Kyra was in Maine, too . . . and it just so happened that my youngest daughter had recently transferred to a college in Maine.
Unity is a young school, established in 1965. It is known as America’s Environmental College, and since my daughter was majoring in sustainable agriculture, it was her dream school. Winning the Jack Kent Cooke scholarship allowed her to realize that dream.
None of us had visited Unity the weekend that we dropped off Cate. But it made enough of an impression on me that I realized something important: both Kyra and Nicky were involved in sustainability in various ways, whether that was food sourcing, agriculture or the over-arching need to redeem our environment.
So that’s how two of my lead characters became activists.
From the beginning, a few readers mentioned this sub-story. For me, it’s important that my characters are well-rounded, with rich histories and deep passions not only for each other but for their talents, their careers or their hobbies. It made perfect sense that if Kyra was pursuing her graduate degree in sustainable ag, she’d have a lot to say on the subject (I might have first-hand knowledge on that!).
All of my books include details and some research into whatever career the characters have chosen. Thus I was a tad surprised that readers seemed to react strongly one way or the other to Kyra and Nicky’s work. And with the release of the latest book, those reactions seemed to ramp up a little more.
So let’s talk about this.
First, we’ll acknowledge the elephant in the room. Yes, I personally believe that climate change is real, that our planet is hurting and that humans are systematically and definitely destroying our one and only world. That’s something I’ve always acknowledged as truth, even back in the days when I was more conservative politically. I’m a product of the 1970’s, after all, when we were all trying to be more environmentally conscious.
But please keep reading, even if you don’t agree with me.
In addition to my sustainability and environmental beliefs, I also am convinced that climate change and ecological responsibility are not a political topic. Politicians of every stripe have attempted to make them political for their own advantages.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. My daughter and I were talking the other day. She said, “It just doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t take much to make some small changes, and even if you’re skeptical about whether or not climate change is real, it doesn’t hurt anyone to make those changes. Worst case, you’ve left the earth a little bit cleaner.”
Hey, I’m not naive. I understand that some of the changes needed aren’t little ones, and I know that they could impact the bottom line of big companies. If you don’t buy that the science is legit, you’d be loathe to make changes that would cost you some bucks.
And while I find recent studies very credible (and damn scary!), I also don’t believe that all science is right on target. After all, we’ve seen that things are changing all the time. But in this case, all the evidence points to the need for all of us, all over the world, to pull together and do whatever we can to help.
I think it’s important to note something, too. I write romance. Fiction. The books in question don’t claim to be treatises on this topic. They’re entertaining stories about people who came from my imagination. So while you may not agree with the inclusion of touchy subjects, please remember that this is all supposed to be fun.
I promise you, the book contains more couple time than controversy.
One reader asked me whether all of my books from now on would include some element of this ‘controversial’ topic. No. That would be silly and limiting, because not all of my characters are involved in this line of work. Kyra and Nicky are . . . and yes, there may be some of the same in the next book in this world, A Dozen Dreams. But I have 71 other books NOT in the Anti-Cinderella World that don’t even mention climate change or sustainability. Try those!
Will I go back and change things in the existing Anti-Cinderella world to avoid controversy? HELL, no. These are my books. These are characters created in my mind, people who are real to me and whose opinions, actions and emotions sprang from genuine inspiration. They remind me of the real-life people whose work I admire, of my daughter and her passion for growing food in a more sustainable manner, of those who sacrifice much in order to make this world a better place.
Today is World Environment Day. If you are offended by the idea of protecting our earth, if you are not alarmed by the dwindling ability of our planet to support its population, if you are not heartbroken by the growing numbers of extinct or endangered species . . . then maybe today doesn’t matter to you.
But it matters to me. It matters to my children, and it will matter to my sweet grandbaby. And if doesn’t matter to more of us, and soon, the consequences will force our hands.
Happy World Environment Day, y’all. Go hug a tree, plant a flower, turn off lights you don’t need, walk instead of drive, kiss a farmer . . . and hey, read the latest Anti-Cinderella book. Even if you don’t agree with climate change, it’s a dang good love story, and we all need more of those.