Novelist and rooftop farmer, J. L. Morin grew up in inner city Detroit and wrote her Japan novel, SAZZAE as her thesis at Harvard. It was a Gold medalist in the eLit Book Award, and a Living Now Book Award winner. She took to the road, traveling around the world, worked as a TV newscaster, and wrote three more novels. Adjunct faculty at Boston University, J. L. Morin, was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2011.
She is the author of USA Best Book Awards finalist, TRAVELLING LIGHT; and ‘Occupy’s 1st bestselling novel’ TRADING DREAMS, a humorous story that unmasks hypocrisy in the banking industry and tosses corruption onto the horns of the Wall Street bull.
Her NATURE’S CONFESSION is a LitPick 5-Star-Review Award winner, was picked as the top read by Marinovich Books, was included in “12 Works of Climate Fiction Everyone Should Read”, and an excerpt received an Eco-Fiction Short Story Contest Honorable Mention.
J.L. Morin writes for the Huffington Post and Library Journal. Below are the responses from the Saturday, May 16, Netera Landar Chat on Snug Harbor.
Netera: Is “Nature’s Confession” a wake-up call about what will happen if we continue to pollute the Earth?
JL: Indeed it is, rather what is already happening, whether or not we try to reverse it. People all over the planet are already drinking bottled water, eating palm oil from confiscated national parks, being brainwashed. We just need to look a little closer.
Netera: What inspired you to write it?
JL: I started writing it before I found out about the horrendous polluting that is going on, and the story taught me to look closely to discover the truth. The inspiration in the beginning was relationships, love…and that grew into the relationships between the characters as I created them. My characters try to defend what is precious to them, and naturally, Nature comes into the picture.
Netera: What was involved in terms of research?
JL: I did a lot of reading of sci-fi and science articles, especially from Scientific American and Nature magazines. The more I realized that overpopulation was choking the earth, the more I needed to tell the story of ‘Mother Nature’, confessing truths, surprising scientific secrets, and the shocking fact that she can no longer sustain us unless we give up our war against her.
Netera: Why did you choose a young hero to be Earth’s champion?
JL: My hero is a teen because most adults have already been brainwashed beyond salvation, and have bought into the system in order to make a living, feed their families, and continue procreating out of control. Teens haven’t started multiplying yet, so they can step back and say, ‘Wait a minute, maybe this way of life isn’t such a good idea.’ Also, teens are into suspense and style, which are important for me, as are the relationships between the characters.
Netera: Is your target audience young people because they will be making the global decisions in the future?
JL: Yes, in the future and now. Young people need to know what’s at stake, and the risks for them in the future. I wrote Nature’s Confession for them, since they’re the main hope for waking up their parents, who probably have alreadybeen brainwashed into corporate complicity. In the book, school kids are brainwashed with ‘mist’. Boy fights to remain conscious, and tries to convince his dad to use his influence to help stop polluters. It’s not even a metaphor for what’s happening today, but a very real parallel, when you consider the control corporations have over what gets into the media and what controls people’s minds.
Netera: Tell us about your protagonist and what he’s up against.
JL: The main character is a teenager, “Boy”. He and his half sister Kenza break through the busywork hivemind of society and motivate their parents to begin thinking about the world and its corporate greedy oil reality. All successful creatures risk multiplying until they use up their natural resources and reach their saturation points. He faces the challenge of reversing that and teaching everyone to live sustainably. He tells a meeting of interstellar beings, man has been fighting the wrong war: “Some of you might remember doing a biology experiment where you filled a jar with water and put a few blades of grass in it with holes in the top. After a few days, if you looked at a drop of the water under a microscope, you saw healthy amoebas growing. After a few more days, the jar became full of amoebas as they happily multiplied. After a week, it stunk with rancid water. A look at a drop of the polluted water showed that all the amoebas were dead. What did Nature confess to us in that experiment? That growth could not go on forever. There is a saturation point. The amoebas were so successful that they multiplied until they used up all the resources and became extinct. If humans don’t guard against reaching their saturation point, they, too, will commit parricide against their planet. We saw the contagion on Earth, when mankind pit its cancerous growth against Nature. Now the truth is clear. Enslaving Nature, we enslave ourselves. Conquering Nature is a death wish. We have been fighting the wrong war, and in winning, we lose.” As you can see, I like a universal theme and strong lessons in a story.
Netera: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
JL: That we can’t keep growing. We need to shrink to survive. We’ve reached our saturation point, where we’ve polluted the environment we live in to the extent that life is threatened. If we continue growing exponentially, the environment won’t sustain us. And all this at a time when newspapers talk about growing more first and foremost. How do you reprogram the human race to question growth itself, when the foundation of modern economics is the assumption ‘growth is good’—not only a big assumption, a wrong assumption. In fact, Senior Economist at the World Bank, Herman E. Daly and Dr. Kenneth N. Townsend have proven (http://dieoff.org/page37.htm) that we can’t grow our way out of poverty and environmental degradation. Sustainable economic growth is impossible, since the economy is an open subsystem of the Earth ecosystem, which is finite, non-growing, and materially closed. As the economic subsystem grows, it engulfs more and more of the ecosystem in which it exists and is bound to reach a limit when it ‘incorporates’ (their words) 100 percent of the ecosystem, if not before. Thus, the economy’s infinite growth is by Nature not sustainable. So that’s the message: as my protagonist puts it, man over Nature is obsolete.
Netera: Do you believe that?
JL: It’s a fact. He proves it in the article at the link. The Earth is a finite, closed system. Of course her resources are limited.
Netera: Thank you for being here, J.L.
JL: It’s been wonderful. Thanks for having me as a guest at the coffee shop!