Charlotte Mendel’s Reversing Time is Greta Thunberg meets YA fantasy. The odds are stacked against Simon, but with the discovery of a talisman and the power to time travel, his actions begin to affect time. Simon is soon charged with a mission: to prevent the inevitable effects of climate change. Mendel joins us on the blog to share more about how this page-turning adventure with a twist was born, and her hope that the book may compel readers to continue to advocate for change when it comes to reducing our global footprint.
The idea of “Reversing Time” popped into my head the day I discovered my low EQ. People had always puzzled me, but two incidents on Low EQ Day proved that my verbal communication was crap.You know how it is when you realize that the climate crisis is the biggest challenge of our times? Like a lightbulb? And that it’s man-made, and we can stop it. By looking at everything we do through the climate crisis lens. Person by person. Vote by vote.“No, it’s too late to stop it,” many people say.I want my children to be able to visit a beautiful coastline and watch the sinking sun reflected off the water. Sure, the coastline will be different, but their lives will be reasonable and safe. They’ll travel less and consume less, and they’ll probably be happier for it. Or—if we continue business as usual—they’ll be checking the air quality on their phones before they venture outside. During Covid, we’re suffering because we are separated from family and friends, whose presence in our lives we usually take for granted. Imagine not being able to take air for granted? Awful. But we can change that.Incident Number One: I walk my son to the bus stop every day. On Low EQ Day, the line of mothers who had driven their kids to the bus stop, switched their engines off as we approached.My son laughed. “They only turn their engines off when they see you coming.”One temperate day I had wheedlingly asked them if it wasn’t worth eliminating those emissions, since running the engine wasn’t giving them any benefit. And probably repeated most of the 4th paragraph of this piece, in an increasingly passionate voice.But I hadn’t changed their behavior.Incident Number Two: Low EQ Day continued with a trip to the store, where a car was sitting outside with its engine running. I waited (with mounting irritation) making faces at the dog inside. When the man came out 15 minutes later, I repeated paragraph 7 and 4 of this piece. He said he had to keep his dog cool. I pointed out that he could have left the windows open, since it was a temperate day. He answered rudely, and within minutes I found myself screaming, “What word don’t you understand? We have to cut down our emissions NOW or our kids will curse us! The scientists are saying that this is the time. NOW.”“You’re crazy,” he snarled.I hadn’t changed his behaviour, either—I was obviously a crap educator and influencer… verbally. But I had a good imagination and I could write. Our inability to modify our behaviour in the face of this looming threat was a fundamental lack of imagination. How could I inspire people to imagine a different future? How could I stem the rising wave of climate-related despair in our young? By giving them a sense of agency. I could write a genre bending adventure tale that weaves elements of science fiction, mystery, family drama—and focuses on the opportunities for personal, unselfish and even heroic action in the face of the climate crisis.Reversing Time was born.
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Charlotte Mendel has published two literary fiction novels: the first novel, Turn Us Again (Roseway/Fernwood, 2013), won the H.R. Percy Novel Prize, the Beacon Award for Social Justice, and the Atlantic Book Award in the Margaret and John Savage First Book category. The second novel, A Hero (Inanna Publications, 2015) was shortlisted for the 2016 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, and was a Finalist in the 2016 International Book Awards in the General Fiction category. Reversing Time is Mendel’s first YA novel.