Author Tim Lebbon joins SciFiChick.com today to talk about horror and his latest release – Eden!
by Tim Lebbon
I’ve always loved nature. As a kid we lived in the countryside and on a farm, and though we left that place when I was about 8 or 9, I still have many fond memories of damming streams, building dens in hay barns, and watching calfs being born. I’d leave home after breakfast and return home for our evening meal, spending the time wandering fields, woods and hillsides with friends, smarting from too much sun, not knowing that I’d been out making the memories of a lifetime.
We moved into a town when I was 9, and I lived there for the next eighteen years, before my wife and I bought a house in the village where we still live now. I’ll never go back to a town or city. I’m a country boy at heart, and I like nothing more than hiking, running, or cycling through the beautiful part of the world where we’re blessed enough to live.
Inevitable, then, that my love of nature would work its way into my fiction.
It’s actually present in a large amount of what I write, and if I analysed the 45 novels, dozens of novellas, and hundreds of short stories I’ve had published, I’m sure I’d find nature’s influence to some extent in a large proportion of my published work. My new novel Eden is perhaps more heavily influenced by my love of the wild than anything I’ve ever written. But the signs were always there.
In my novella The First Law (from the collection Faith in the Flesh, Razorblade Press 1998), a group of shipwrecked sailors are washed up on an island. At first they believe they’ve found salvation, but the truth proves very different. The island doesn’t want them there. It’s a paradise that’s inimical to humankind, and my characters go through some pretty gruelling times. I haven’t read this novella in maybe 20 years, but that final image still sticks with me…
My first mass market novel was The Nature of Balance, a work that very obviously takes our abuse of our planet as a central core. It’s a bit of a crazy novel in any ways, and I look back fondly on its weird concepts, surreal characters, and animals attacks. Those birds! That fox! I was also ridiculously smug with myself at my clever play on words for the title, although a small proportion of reviewers called it The Balance of Nature. Some people just rdea hwta tehy xptece ot ese.
A series of books I had great fun writing were the Noreela novels, four long novels and a few novellas and short stories set in my fantasy world of Noreela. The first two of these, Dusk and Dawn, came about when I decided to write a fantasy set in a world from which magic has withdrawn because of the land’s inhabitant’s misuse of it. I thought it was a pretty unique idea, and it also meant … I didn’t have to think up and stick to a magic system! It had its own challenges, but I also realised after I’d written it that it was another example of nature (in this case, magic and its connection to the land) taking exception to humanity’s abuse.
A later novel, The Silence (filmed with Stanley Tucci and Kiernan Shipka, available now on Netflix), was less a ‘nature’s revenge’ story, and more of a ‘we don’t know everything’ tale, when creatures who hunt by sound emerge from an isolated, cut off cave and have fun feeding upon any creature that makes a sound. The vesps were enjoyable natural monsters to create and have cause chaos, but the novel was also heavily driven by the landscape my family of survivors fled across, the chances of their survival significantly dependent on their surroundings.
And that leads me on to Eden, my latest novel, and the one that’s most heavily inspired by my fascination with the natural world and our place within it. Or, in Eden’s case, our removal from it.
Eden is one of the Virgin Zones, vast tracts of land given back to nature by the world’s governments. This is a novel of the near future, when the tipping point has been reached in the climate crisis, and humanity is doing what it can to survive, or even to turn things around. Of course, such wildernesses are tempting to those who love the wild … adventure races, trail runners. Hell, I’d LOVE to visit Eden.
Well, maybe. But not for long.
Because nature has once again found a good solid footing there, reestablishing itself, and the power of nature no longer welcomes humans into its beautiful fold.
It’s an adventure novel, with science fictional undertones, and of course a core of horror running rich and red throughout. I guess in some ways it’s a love note to nature, written from our planet’s point of view. And in Eden, nature is no longer impartial. It’s taking action.