Living With Saul for Nearly 100 days

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The good thing about keeping a record of what I have done at each writing session is to realise how some stories come easier than others. Where Late the Cicada Sings, which to some extent I wrote in memory of the late Kate Wilhelm, has taken a long time. Katie corresponded with me on and off for two years, she was happy that I wanted to do my PhD on her and a few of her contemporaries. For those of you who have never read Kate Wilhelm, read WHERE LATE THE SWEET BIRDS SANG (1976) – this is where my short story title pays homage to, and a personal favourite of mine, JUNIPER TIME (1979. Winner of the Prix Apollo Award). Kate was very keen that writers were revisiting climate change problems, and dealing with it in terms of restricted view. In the sense, when the shit hits the fan, you really won’t know what is happening, even the media doesn’t tell you the full story because frankly the full story would stop you in your tracks. So, along trundles Saul for Kate. Saul from one of my earlier stories, The Tin Grasshopper, except I realise halfway through the writing that there is no point referencing this story because 70 years has gone by since that tale and Saul has been through a lot. Also, the reader won’t have read both, so Saul’s new story has to stand alone, be read alone. Then I go and make Saul blind because I am thinking, ‘restricted view’ and like an arsehole I restrict it right down but that suits Saul, it works in the story. It means he has to trust and be betrayed. Now, deal with that for 100 days, which is what I have been doing, wading waist deep in mud and trying to talk about the impact of climate change without saying, CLIMATE CHANGE. The fact is that as climate change has bitten, and it has, we have normalised it, we have labelled it catastrophic, a tragedy, once in a hundred years event, but we have not called it by its name for fear of opening Pandora’s Box. We will continue to not see the trees for the wood. It is our nature. Kate taught me that in her writing and in our correspondence. Sadly, Kate didn’t live to see me get a place doing my PhD. I would have liked to have interviewed her for it but all our messaging was always polite, always discussing the idea of writing and work, as we skirted around climate change. I suspect Saul in my story has done the same and that is why I think I made him old, to make him a contemporary of Kate’s. Farewell, Kate Wilhelm, our correspondence and friendship was too brief but your kindness was abundant.

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