As I’ve noted before, and will undoubtedly will again, it’s no surprise that writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror would create stories about climate change. But Tim Lebbon is taking a different approach with his eco-horror adventure story Eden (paperback, Kindle), which — as he discusses in the following email interview about it — also includes elements of motorsports.
To begin, what is Eden about, and when and where is it set?
Eden is set in the near future, when we’ve reached and passed the tipping point with climate change, and the world is suffering. Vast islands of refuse float in the sea. The Amazon has been denuded. Extreme weather events are the norm. Humanity has set aside thirteen vast areas of land called Virgin Zones, totally abandoned and with entry now totally forbidden, with the intention that nature will re-establish itself there. Eden is the first and oldest Zone, and when it attracts an illicit team of adventure racers, they discover not only that there were others there before them, but in Eden nature is no longer their friend.
Eden has been called an eco-horror story. Is that how you’d describe it?
I like that tag. It also has elements of adventure, thriller, and science fiction.
[But] I’m not one for trying to categorize my own novels, to be honest, I just write the stories I want to tell and let them find their own place within, or straddling genre boundaries.
It seems kind of obvious where you got the idea for Eden, but I’m curious if you set out to write something that was socially- and politically-relevant or if you came up with the idea for the story first and realized it naturally (no pun intended) needed to be socially- and politically-relevant?
I guess it has that relevance because it’s inspired by something that interests and worries me at the moment: climate change. It should worry us all. It’s not a political novel, but it is driven by current fears and concerns.
But it was also informed by my love of endurance sport, and it’s a story first for me. It was an exciting, action-packed, relevant story that caught my imagination, and I ran with it (pun intended) from there.
Now, the press materials for Eden say it will “delight fans of Jeff VanderMeer.” VanderMeer has a rather distinctive writing style. Do you think Eden is similar to VanderMeer in how it’s written or do you think it’s more that the story is in the same vein as what he writes? Or is it something else entirely?
It’s a story concerned with nature and our effects on the natural world. I’ve been writing about nature and landscape, and our relationship with it, since my early days as a published author, and Jeff has some of those same interests and passions. Our styles are very different, though.
Speaking of Mr. VanderMeer, are there any writers who you think had a big impact on Eden but not on any of your other novels?
Not that I can think of. I guess all writers are influenced subconsciously by who and what they read, but there’s no overt influences I can think of here.
What about such non-literary influences? Was Eden influenced by any movies, TV shows, or video games?
Yes, if you count books and documentaries I’ve read and watched about climate change. I’m a big fan of David Attenborough and natural history programs in general. Also my daughter is just finishing a degree in Geography, and she’s writing her dissertation on methods of communication of climate change with the general public, so we tend to talk about it a lot. It’s the greatest challenge of our times. It’s difficult not to have my writing influenced by it.
Now, along with your original stories, you’ve also written novels based on movies, including Alien: Out Of The Shadows and Star Wars: Dawn Of The Jedi: Into The Void. How do you think writing stories in fictional universes you didn’t create influenced Eden?
Not at all, really.
You’ve also written novels that are parts of a series, including the Relics trilogy and The Toxic City series. Is Eden a self-contained story or the first book in a new series?
I’ve no plans to revisit Eden, but it is set in an interesting wider world. The new novel I’m writing right now might also be seen as an eco-horror novel, though it’s not connected to Eden in any overt way. The more I write, the more I have a real preference for stand-alone novels, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be a deeper link between them if readers (or I) look close enough.
Earlier I asked if Eden had been influenced by any movies, TV shows, or video games. Has there been any interest in adapting Eden into a movie, show, or game?
Something quite exciting is happening with Eden right now, but it’s such early days that I really can’t say much more … other than it’s so exciting because I’m working on it.
Finally, if someone enjoys Eden, which of your other horror novels would you suggest they read next?