1. What do you write?
Throughout my career, I’ve mostly written non-fiction. As an
environmental non-profit consultant, I’ve researched various
sustainability-focused topics like recycling processes and markets, organic gardening,
reducing meat consumption and increasing public transit use and written about
them for internal and external use. I enjoy taking weighty topics and making
them accessible to the general public.
For the past two years, I’ve focused more on writing fiction. I think that telling stories is a powerful way to reach people’s hearts and minds. My hope is that through story, people will begin to think about topics like endangered species, plastics in the ocean, and rising seas as issues that they want to do something about. Sometimes I feel compelled to write the worst case scenarios – to scare myself and my readers into action. Sometimes I write about what is possible - alternative futures that we can create if we choose to. I hope these stories inspire people to think creatively about sustainability and to imagine building the future that they want to live in.
I also try to include a diversity of points of view in my stories, since climate change and environmental destruction will affect people on every continent and from every walk of life.
2. Why did you decide to join the author team?
I was intrigued by the premise – what will the world look like in 30
years? – and interested to join a group of thinkers and writers who were
pondering the same question. I love making connections with other writers who
care about our environment, and find that their imaginations and the nature of
the questions that they ask often inform my future work.
I also am hopeful that our readers will have their own imaginations sparked, and will become allies in this work of saving the planet from environmental destruction. In my story, the Southern Resident Killer Whales of the Puget Sound go extinct, and that future doesn’t have to happen. But it’s going to take a concerted effort to avoid it. I wanted readers to think about what it would mean for these whales to go extinct – how they would feel – so that they will change behaviors and systems in order to prevent that future from happening.
3. Where do you get your inspiration?
Working in environmental non-profit has definitely shaped my desire to tell stories about our natural world, and in particular the fearsome future that we will face if we don’t slow down climate change. But I’m really motivated by a love for the natural world and all of the species that dwell in it – each is so unique and wonderful. I love that we humans are learning more about how interconnected all species are, and how the loss of one impacts the rest of us. I always want to remember my (small) place in the whole of things, and writing about people interacting with the natural world helps me to do that.
4. What are you writing at the moment?
I’m working on several projects, all of them set in the near future – a future that’s close but, I think, still avoidable. I’m several drafts into a novel set in the same world as the short story that’s included in the anthology, about a plucky high school marine sciences student whose path intersects with a young woman fleeing the rising seas in the Pacific. The orcas feature heavily in that book as well, with my protagonist determined to save the Puget Sound from collapse. She also struggles to reconcile her frustration with humanity and its reckless endangerment of the natural world with her nascent realization that many humans are also suffering because of environmental destruction.
Besides that, I’m working on a second novel about a climate-related pandemic and how that crisis impacts women who are due to give birth in the middle of this horrific time. Then I’ve got a few short stories in the works as well. I find that the current political climate in the United States is at least having the benefit of inspiring my creativity!
5. Why should we read it?
My biggest hope is that people will read my writing because they connect with it. I want readers to become invested in my characters and the difficulties that they are facing, and root for my characters to succeed. Beyond that, my hope is that readers will read my work because it’s timely – I’m asking questions about how we as a species are going to interact with the earth and shape our future. I hope readers will want to ponder those questions as well, and that they will be inspired to protect the planet in the way that my main characters are.
Read Kimberly's short story on Modern Literature