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“Yes but do you have witchy boots?” I have been quiet this week. Largely because in addition to doing the forty dozen things I do in what passes for a day, I have been getting ready for the Halloween onslaught, or, for the 50 – 70 trick or treaters, surviving me on Halloween. I did have the witchy boots.  They were the pair  last seen when I chucked them in the back of the cupboard after staggering round the Sistine Chapel in them, never wanting to see them again.  Never mind wear them. The thought of now wearing them…. 

 Halloween? Let me tell you there are scarier things. 

Of course I have had sore feet before.  ‘Show them what you have in the rucksack.’ my friend Lora’s husband once said, in a bid to coax a stranded party across a river. Him being awfully good at rivers. So I did.  And all our pairs of dry socks floated away in the current. The Clachaig Inn were delighted to know their handtowels were distributed in such a noble use. But since these various pairs of socks also included the pair I’d just removed, and we had to form a sort of chain….. the trek back in the monsoonish conditions was arduous. The words, ‘Always remember that what was only a trickle on the way up may now be a raging torrent on the way down,’ echoing blithely in my head, at every step. On that occasion I was lucky to have feet to have blisters on.

 But I digress. The boots weren’t the only thing that was scary yesterday. This blog was. I’d something else lined up, which due to an email blip didn’t arrive. I thought Ahhhhhhh. But then I looked in my inbox and this had.

 Sir Galahad had come to the rescue in the form of Peter Romilly a sort of neighbour, and a great guy, who has just published a book, 500 Hundred Parts Per Million. A scary vision of the future.  Not only is he here today to be interviewed……he even gave me the questions. What a perfect guest.   

Q. You’ve just published your first novel “500 Parts Per Million” as an Amazon Kindle eBook. What inspired you to write it?

A. The idea that global warming will change our lives dramatically, but as a society we’re almost sleepwalking into those changes. There’s a general awareness of global warming and the issues surrounding it, but I don’t think people have much sense of what those issues could mean in practical terms, especially younger people who will have to face the full impacts.  Maybe the problems are so large and difficult to deal with that it’s easier to shrug your shoulders and ignore them.  I set myself the task of visualising how society might change in response to global warming, and how it might cope with those changes, through the medium of fiction.  It’s an attempt to crystallise some of the scientific research into a credible storyline, one that provides a focus for people to say “So that’s what might happen to us if we don’t do something about it.”

Q. When is your novel set?

A. It’s set in 2050, when the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide has reached a concentration of 500 parts per million and our planet has warmed so much that all our weather systems have gone haywire.  Ironically, at the same time we’re doing this interview, Hurricane Sandy is battering swathes of New York and the US east coast to a standstill.

Q.  In one sentence, what is your novel about?

A. The plot is a tale of life, love and survival in a warmed up world, where people have to expect the unexpected.

Q. Would you class your novel as sci-fi?

A. Not really, although I hope sci-fi fans would enjoy it. There’s a dash of sci-fi mixed in, but there are no aliens, vampires or time lords lurking within its pages.  I wanted to write a credible story based on issues identified in scientific reports like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Stern Report.  This makes the novel difficult to pigeonhole into the standard publishers’ marketing categories, but if I had to put a short label on it I’d probably class it as future eco-fiction.  

Q. Is it pessimistic or optimistic about our future?

A. Both! But I’m not giving anything else away on that one. You’ll have to read the book to find out.

Q. What about you personally?

A. I’m generally pessimistic, because I think things will get worse before they get better, although I believe the human species, or what’s left of it, will eventually muddle through.

Q. Why did you decide to publish your novel as an eBook?

A. Because I couldn’t find a traditional publisher. I tried for a year without success, then one day I met an author who told me it had taken him twelve years to get an agent and a publishing deal. I should add that he was a much younger man than me. I went home, looked in the mirror and thought “Wow, if it takes me twelve years to get published, I could be dead by then.” So I decided to publish my novel as an eBook for the Amazon Kindle.  I think eBooks could also help reduce the carbon footprint of the publishing industry. The disadvantage is that, as a first time author, you’re completely unknown, so you have to try and market yourself, which takes time away from writing.

Q. Have you always been a writer?

A. No, not fiction. But I was an economist for many years, and I wrote academic papers, a couple on global warming. It was while I was researching them that the ideas for 500 Parts Per Million sparked in my mind. But this could be the subject of another interview! If people want to know more about me and my academic career, they can always visit my website at www.peterromilly.com .

Q. What are you working on at the moment?

A. I’m writing the sequel to 500 Parts Per Million, which I hope to have ready by the end of 2013. It’s another piece of future eco-fiction.

So there you have it folks, except to say Peter’s book is available from Amazon. Here’s the blurb…..

The year is 2050, the weather is … devastating. Marc, a young man working in London’s financial district, is summoned to a business meeting in Amsterdam and finds his life changed forever. Washed up on an embankment after a huge storm surge overwhelms Amsterdam’s sea defences, he sets sail on a dangerous adventure that takes him from the rugged Cornish coastline of south west England to the Floating City in Rotterdam, then across the Atlantic to the east coast of the United States. On his travels he encounters an oddball companion, GM Joe, and together they sail up the PeeDeeRiver to the town of Jamesville in drought-stricken South Carolina, where Marc gets friendly with Constance, the mayor’s daughter. But Jamesville has plenty of problems of its own, not just drought, as Marc soon discovers.

500 Parts Per Million is based on the contemporary environmental issue of global warming, a tale of life, love and survival in a warmed up world. It’s about a planet where the weather has gone haywire, the technologies we rely on don’t work, and where communities face new threats and have to relearn forgotten skills to survive.