Skip to main content

Jamie Mollart - Four Way Interview

Jamie Mollart runs his own advertising company, and has won awards for marketing. He has taught novel writing for Writing East Midlands and is a long standing guest on the influential writers podcast Litopia. Jamie is a member of the Climate Fiction Writers League, a group of global authors raising awareness about climate change through writing. 

His debut novel, The Zoo, was on the Amazon Rising Stars 2015 list and his latest novel is Kings of a Dead World.

Why science fiction?

For me it’s the story first and genre second. My first novel, The Zoo, was speculative fiction in a modern day setting because that was what the story called for. For Kings of a Dead World I wanted to explore ideas around the projected results of the self-destructive trajectory the human race is on, so it had to be set in the future. I also had to build a world structure that allowed me to play out the narrative and it wouldn’t have been possible to do that in a modern day setting. 

Science Fiction is a genre that has always been about big ideas. I love J. G. Ballard: he had this incredible ability to take a really strong single concept or idea and then explore it across a really thrilling narrative. He was the master of high concept and you can pretty much distill his books down into a single sentence and that’s unbelievably difficult to achieve. For example,  Concrete Island : a man crashes into a roundabout and finds a whole alternative society stuck there. 

Sci-fi also gives you this ability to discuss current societal concerns at an arm's length distance and that’s invaluable when you’re tackling something as unfathomable as climate change. More than anything though, it’s simply a genre that I’ve always enjoyed reading and so really wanted to write in it too.

Why this book?

Reading it in 2021, you could easily be forgiven for thinking it’s a response to the pandemic, but it’s not. I began working on it 5 years ago and it’s born from a set of personal fears and preoccupations. 

I work in advertising and have a concern that my industry is directly responsible for the rampant consumerism that is the root cause of our gallop towards climate disaster. I struggle personally to reconcile this and wanted to work through it. 

It also explores the idea of culpability, both on a personal level and a societal level, and the impact the individual can have on the collective whole. I wanted to build a world where it was possible for there to be no checks and balances, and then to see what people are capable of within that situation.

When I conceived of The Sleep it seemed as the most extreme possible way humanity could try to solve the problem in a dispassionately logical way - I was actually worried it would be too far fetched, but editing the book through 2020, when it seemed eerily prescient, I wondered whether I could have actually gone further.

What’s next?

A recurring theme in all of my work is toxic masculinity and the male friendship, so I’m going to tackle that head on. It’s a bit of a heady mix at the moment, encompassing the rise of the English nationalism in the run up to Brexit, the patriarchy, male tribalism and more. I'm hoping I can pull it all together into a coherent narrative! 

I’m a bit superstitious about books when they’re being written, so I don’t want to go into too much detail here.

There’s quite a lot bubbling away in my head at the moment at various stages including; a horror book; another sci-fi novel; and even a YA historical novel.

What’s exciting you at the moment?

I’ve a to-read list that’s about 5 feet off the floor at the moment, there seems to be so many good books coming out. I’m reading Who They Was by Gabriel Krauze at the moment and it’s incredible. It’s hard to talk about it without sounding like a newspaper headline, but it’s seriously intense and powerful writing. I’m looking forward to starting Aliya Whiteley’s Skyward Inn, Leave The World Behind, by Rumaan Alam, and Hot Stew by Fiona Mozley, but that hardly touches the pile! 

What I’m most excited about though, is that I’m booked into The Clockhouse at Arvon for a 4 day writing retreat at the end of July. It’s the most creatively productive place for me in the world and I normally visit twice a year to work on my latest novel, however Covid has meant I’ve not been for 2 years. I’m really looking forward to being able to spend 4 solid days working on my WIP.


Popular posts from this blog

On the Fringe - Michael Gordin *****

This little book is a pleasant surprise. That word 'little', by the way, is not intended as an insult, but a compliment. Kudos to OUP for realising that a book doesn't have to be three inches thick to be interesting. It's just 101 pages before you get to the notes - and that's plenty. The topic is fringe science or pseudoscience: it could be heavy going in a condensed form, but in fact Michael Gordin keeps the tone light and readable. In some ways, the most interesting bit is when Gordin plunges into just what pseudoscience actually is. As he points out, there are elements of subjectivity to this. For example, some would say that string theory is pseudoscience, even though many real scientists have dedicated their careers to it. Gordin also points out that, outside of denial (more on this a moment), many supporters of what most of us label pseudoscience do use the scientific method and see themselves as doing actual science. Gordin breaks pseudoscience down into a n

A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth - Henry Gee *****

In writing this book, Henry Gee had a lot to live up to. His earlier title  The Accidental Species was a superbly readable and fascinating description of the evolutionary process leading to Homo sapiens . It seemed hard to beat - but he has succeeded with what is inevitably going to be described as a tour-de-force. As is promised on the cover, we are taken through nearly 4.6 billion years of life on Earth (actually rather more, as I'll cover below). It's a mark of Gee's skill that what could have ended up feeling like an interminable list of different organisms comes across instead as something of a pager turner. This is helped by the structuring - within those promised twelve chapters everything is divided up into handy bite-sized chunks. And although there certainly are very many species mentioned as we pass through the years, rather than feeling overwhelming, Gee's friendly prose and careful timing made the approach come across as natural and organic.  There was a w

Michael D. Gordin - Four Way Interview

Michael D. Gordin is a historian of modern science and a professor at Princeton University, with particular interests in the physical sciences and in science in Russia and the Soviet Union. He is the author of six books, ranging from the periodic table to early nuclear weapons to the history of scientific languages. His most recent book is On the Fringe: Where Science Meets Pseudoscience (Oxford University Press). Why history of science? The history of science grabbed me long before I knew that there were actual historians of science out there. I entered college committed to becoming a physicist, drawn in by the deep intellectual puzzles of entropy, quantum theory, and relativity. When I started taking courses, I came to understand that what really interested me about those puzzles were not so much their solutions — still replete with paradoxes — but rather the rich debates and even the dead-ends that scientists had taken to trying to resolve them. At first, I thought this fell under