I’m delighted to welcome debut author Michelle Cook to my blog today. Michelle is here to discuss the themes of her fabulous novel, Tipping Point.
I’m not a climate activist. I only have the floating anxiety of many as we stumble deeper into trouble, averting our gaze to the shiny new things we can buy. These days, we must also contend with a viral pandemic—apparently born of our determination to squeeze maximum profit from the natural world.
These are not coincidences. They are connected. And we are not their victims, but their cause.
Perhaps it’s a cop-out to argue that the solution lies beyond recycling, or leaving the car at home for the odd walk to the shops. I try to do these things. Yet to me, the very structure of human society is the problem: exceptionalism and competition focussed around national borders. And our insistence that unending economic growth is the prize. What exactly does ‘world-beating’ mean, anyway?
Such ideas must have seemed wise in 1950, as the world recovered from all-out war and scarcity, with less than a third of its current population and a hunger for expansion. Humans have long since outgrown that need. For today’s conditions, we are asking the wrong questions, pursuing the wrong goals.
All this was in my head as I took up writing again after far too many years. And so Tipping Point was born. As I wrote, the story became about other things too.
The 18-year old heroine of Tipping Point, Essie Glass, is alone. Her family were killed in a terrorist attack two years before the story opens. She inhabits a near-future world just a cruel twist away from our own. These facets of Essie’s story, while giving me a lot of dramatic wiggle room, also present a couple of key themes.
Essie’s status as an orphan gives form to the concept of belonging. Through her best friend Maya, Essie joins a ragtag band of climate activists, who become her new family. The contrast between Essie, fighting her demons alone, and Maya, who seems to have it all with her safe, techie boyfriend and loving home, allowed me to explore how those differences would manifest under duress. Can trauma and bereavement, all the pain it inflicts, also be a driver? Is it true that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger? And at what point does that principle snap?
Parallels between Essie’s and our world are quite deliberate. I wanted my depiction of 2035 England to feel like a logical and only small step from ours. There are no flying vehicles or teleportation devices. The future isn’t the story. The present is—our love for soothing media sound bites; our passivity in the face of huge challenges; that we have the ingenuity to face these challenges, but not the political will. And the enduring need to trust our leaders when they repeatedly and openly serve their own interests above ours. All these familiar dimensions play into the perfect storm that puts Essie, a seemingly unremarkable girl, in the extraordinary position of saving the world despite itself.
I had one other motive for writing this story. With all my musings on human society, in the end I wanted to create a compelling adventure. If I succeed, you could disagree with every word I’ve written up until now. You could believe, as one of my early draft readers did, that climate change is bunkum, and that we’re doing okay thank you very much. You could think that and still love a galloping yarn about a young woman in peril, who fights with every fibre for what she believes is right. And if that’s you, I hope you’ll enjoy my story.
Just know that, secretly, I hope give you pause, even for a tiny bit.
About the book:
A tale of loss, manipulation, and the search for the truth
What would you risk to turn back the tide?
Essie Glass might have been a typical eighteen-year-old – had life not dealt her an early blow. Struggling to come to terms with the loss of her family in a terrorist attack, and left with nothing, Essie’s not kidding herself about her world. She wants change, and she’ll be honest about it, whatever the cost. From behind her keyboard, that is…
After all, this is England, 2035. Earth’s climate continues its accelerating collapse. A powerful elite controls the disaster-weary population with propaganda, intimidation, and constant surveillance.
By all appearances, Alex Langford is a respected local businessman – until Essie discovers that he’s a murderous conspirator who’d see the planet die for his fortune.
When their paths collide, Essie must decide: how much is she really willing to pay for her honesty?
Her choices, and the events she sets in motion, pit her against both enemies and supposed friends as she risks more than just her life to thwart them.
Will she succeed in revealing the truth? And will she survive?
About the Author:
Michelle lives in Worcestershire, UK, with her husband Daniel, their two young children, and a cat called Lyra Belacqua. By day, she works for the NHS, a job which she has almost as much passion for as fiction.
Her first joyful steps into creative writing were at the age of ten, when the teacher read out her short story in class. A slapstick tale of two talking kangaroos breaking out of a zoo, the work was sadly lost to history. Still, Michelle never forgot the buzz of others enjoying her words.
More recently, she has had several flash pieces published, was long-listed for the Cambridge 2020 prize for flash fiction, and placed first in the February 2020 Writers’ Forum competition with her short story The Truth About Cherry House. Tipping Point is her debut novel.
Find Michelle at:
Tipping Point can be found on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08CVN3DQH/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i0