Tuesday, November 13, 2018

An interview with Ilana Strauss on the rise of the cli-fi genre worldwide over the last ten years or so

Ilana: (by email) -- Thanks! Can you tell me a bit more about cli-fi? I don't know much about it. How many cli-fi books/movies/etc are there? Is it a growing artistic movement?

Dan Bloom: (by email) -- Cli-fi is my coinage, as a climate activist of the literary pr kind. I wanted a new genre as a wake up call, a warning flare, a PR tool. It really got started in a big way first with an NPR segment by freelance radio reporter Angela Evancie on April 20, 2013. Margaret Atwood tweeted about me using the term in 2011. I've been blogging nonstop 24/7 ever since, from my home office in Taiwan. Tufts 1971 lit major. Created the cli-fi term in Taiwan on my blog as a trial balloon in 2008. After the NPR pick-up, the New York Times picked it up in two major articles in 2014 after NPR story went viral in both text and podcast.  Cli-fi promotion is now my life's work as a PR gadfly. I hope to inspire novelists, headline writers, lit critics, readers. I'm a dreamer, 70 now, penniless, childless. Cli-fi is my child.

PS: There are over 200 cli-fi novels listed at goodreads in cli-fi list there. And yes, there is a huge intl artistic movement now. But still 99 percent of Americans have never heard or seen the word yet. There's work to do. Maybe 25 more years, even more.  

Google the term in both Google News and regular Google. The AFP wire service in France just did big story on  it. See the AFP link at korgw101.Blogspot.com

Story idea for you?

Ilana: This is all pretty interesting! Are you free for an interview sometime next week?

Dan: Sure.

Ilana (the next week as interview continues by email:)--  So, could you just tell me your story? How you got involved in all this, any exciting moments, what you hope to accomplish?

Dan: Most exciting moments:

In 2011 when Margaret Atwood retweeted a cli-fi tweet I sent her, and her tweet travelled far via her 1 million Twitter followers and media interest in her.

2013 April when NPR did a 5 minute segment on a hot new genre called cli-fi on air and in transcript form in npr website

2014 April 1 when New York Times staff reporter Richard Perez-Pena reported on Univ of Oregon professor Stephanie LeMenager who was teaching the first ever cli-fi class to her graduate and PhD students

July 2014 when the NYT Room for Debate section online asked 5 cli-fi experts to weigh in on the prospects for cli-fi to catch on in the future
2018 October when lit hub book marks in a post said "cli-fi is perhaps the most important literary genre of our era"

What I hope to accomplish?

I'm just a cheerleader egging on novelists world-wide to write cli-fi novels, so I hope to inspire more novelists and YA writers to take the plunge with cli-fi.

I'm looking for someone in the 2020s or 2030s to write the "On the Beach" of climate change novels as a major global wake up call.

Ilana: Oh, and one thing I want to check on: what are some of your biggest successes, in terms of promoting these books? I want to check in with the authors.

Dan: Some authors I have worked with on this:
"Polar City Red," a novel by Jim Laughter  about 60 yrs old, a retired Navy career guy in Tulsa Oklahoma. I asked him to write the novel for me, after he was recommended by another Texas novelist. So I commissioned him to write the novel with the entire story his own words his own characters all royalties to him. No money to me. The only thing I asked for was to set the story in a domed polar city in Alaska in the distant future . And I asked the title be "polar city red" and Jim agreed and write the book. Published April 2012, the first ever purposefully consciously published cli-fi novel calling itself in promo material "a cli-fi thriller". It served as pr guy for the novel. Jim has info on his website about it. His email contact is

Also a  novel titled "Finitude" by Hamish MacDonald, then in Scotland now moved back to native Canada. I encouraged him in writing process and helped with getting it called a cli-fi novel by book reviews in media. Book available free online now on his website. I loved his book. Great writing. Great story. Set in a UK in near future but nation never named as UK. His novel is noteworthy because first ever cli-fi novel with gay main character. But treated as normal main character without making big deal he is gay. Hamish is gay and married to his Scottish partner in Canada.

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