Everyone has a story in them or so the saying goes. Not everyone manages to share theirs with the world though.
Lisa Devaney tells me a story had been swirling in her mind for many years but, terrified of having her work rejected by the publishing industry because she’d heard so many disheartening stories, she held back.
However, a few years ago, as she travelled to work, Lisa noticed a growing number of people reading 50 Shades of Grey and witnessed it become a phenomenon. Although it’s not the most adept fiction and erotic romance isn’t to everyone’s taste, it certainly showed that authors can take publication into their own hands and make a success of it.
From seaweed to publication
As a result of what she’d seen, Lisa finally found the courage to write a novel. In Ark: A Promise of Survival, the first in what will become a trilogy, was conceived after a walk along a shoreline made her wonder what would happen if seaweed became one of the few sources of food in the future. And, as it’s Earth Day today, what better day to explore the world of climate change fiction?
Set in 2044, In Ark follows Mya Brand who, after her husband announces he wants a divorce “over a roast chicken she had prepared”, takes on the “swipe, save, swipe, save” mission of digitally recording every human’s life story before climate change makes Earth unlivable. Hindered by the struggle to function in a changing world and with little funding, her mission seems impossible. That’s until she’s abducted by an eco-survivalist community— Ark— who believes in the criticality of her mission and promises to make her dreams come true if only she can overcome the heartache of missing her family and bypass her morals.
Cli-Fi: A genre and community
Written in a formal, slightly prophetic tone, In Ark explores some of the sacrifices we might be forced to make if climate change destroys our planet. Fresh fruit is rationed. Seaweed is farmed. Caterpillars turn Liberian nationals into refugees. With so many things that could happen, it’s no surprise that there’s a whole community of authors inspired by environmental issues. They’ve coined a relatively new genre called Cli-fi (a subgenre of science fiction) and its pioneer is writer and activist Danny Bloom who actively encouraged Lisa as soon as she discovered this was the genre for her and started reaching out. The genre is attracting much attention, with articles appearing in the likes of Wired magazine and The Guardian. It’s so inspiring to see a genre grow from grass roots like this.
Like many writers, Lisa has found the support of a writing community like this such a blessing. The #clifi hashtag is one of the many ways it comes together and it’s opened her up to new authors, new books and informed book reviews. The best thing is that support within the community is reciprocated. This should be something every genre community encourages.
Being active on social media has helped Lisa in many other ways too. She sourced her editor and the designer of her Art Deco-inspired cover through Twitter, finding this better value than if she’d gone through more traditional routes. She also blogs on her own website, www.lisadevaney.com, sharing insights into her work and giving a platform for her to talk about her passion for protecting our environment in the most entertaining way she can.
Entertainment was also one of the key aims of Lisa’s book launch. She pushed through her nerves to make a success of the event at Victoria Park Books in London, energising it with some slam poetry, a reading and a bit of fancy dress. Not wanting those who couldn’t make it to London to miss out, she also converted the launch content into a live Google Hangout, which she had to teach herself how to do, and was surprised at how she was able to find something to say to the camera, in full costume, for the full session. She’s even created her own hashtag, #inark, to keep the conversation going and to share some of the great reviews she receives. They mean so much to her.
Make your launch a success
Lisa is passionate about supporting other authors too and is full of advice from her publishing journey, lessons she’s going to draw upon when she publishes the next book in the trilogy:
- The quality of your work is crucial, especially if you want readers to come back for more. Saving up a little each month as you write your book to pay for a professional edit and striking cover design, helps to spread the cost.
- When your book first appears on Amazon, nothing happens unless you do something. So, it’s crucial to plan ahead so you’ll be ready to start promoting right away and are therefore less likely to get disheartened by a lack of response.
- Being active on social media and networking in communities from the moment you start writing will help you to build a vital network of advocates, motivators, and reviewers who can support each other.
Lisa’s constantly coming up with new ideas for promoting her book, even while we’re chatting by Skype, so that her promotions stay fresh. So, if you’re looking for inspiration, this innovative author and growing genre are certainly worth following. Why not check out Lisa’s book here too?