Hey everyone. On October 8th at 7pm BST/2PM EDT I’ll be joining writers Anne Goodwin (Sugar and Snails), Craig Hallam (Oshibana Complex), Clare Stevens (Blue Tide Rising), and the indomitable managing director/editor Sara-Jayne from Inspired Quill for an online chat.

We’ll talk mental health (and illness) in fiction; the books that got it right, the ones that didn’t, and the stigma mental illness carries.

I’ve always been a believer in the mantra that stories are how we make sense of ourselves and the world around us. And, while I’ve been a fan Fight Club and The Silence of the Lambs, they are probably not the most accurate examples of mental illness ever put on paper. And that’s fine. Fiction books are not meant to replace a nuanced understanding of real world issues. On the other hand, how many people refer to psycho killers these days, or have a skewed idea of bipolarism because they read about it in a book or watched a movie?

So, join the discussion by clicking on this link->https://youtu.be/MWIgQZ2FPjY

Share your questions, bring up your favorite books dealing with mental illness, and let’s have a cool evening.

Something awesome happened recently.

I live next to a spot in the outskirts of Copenhagen called the Amager Commons, a 223-ha national park that is home to a number of animal and plant species. There’s falcons, hawks, owls, grebes, foxes, deer, tormentil, marsh orchids, and a bunch of others, some of which are protected by law. Amongst them is the humble Northern Crested Newt, which is about the size of my palm.

There’s much to love here. Copenhagen isn’t a large city, but it can tire you out. There are hiking and bicycle trails through the forest and a lot of my Instagram pictures are shot while walking through it and clearing my mind. It’s a place we need in a country that doesn’t have the awe-inspiring vistas of Norway or New Zealand, or the old-growth forests of the US and Canada.

Part of the Commons was rezoned at one point with the intention to knock down the vegetation and natural habitat and replace it with residential buildings. Since then, various nature protection organizations have been trying to stall development and, I’m suspecting, part of the reason why it took years for construction to begin at all was the public outcry and how this one case has always been brought up during communal elections.

Last year, the project started.

The nature protection organizations keeping an eye on the development argued that it went against nature protection laws. A court ordered the development company to cease until it could be determined whether construction was impacting protected species, which the company ignored and pressed on. I’ve had dealings with that company before and I can tell you they are a bunch of criminals that have outright lied in court in various cases and cheated to squeeze as much money as possible out of locals. Nothing ever happens to them because it’s a joint public-private venture that affords the company a certain amount of immunity.

Enter the newt.

The Friends of Amager club managed to get a court to put a stop to the construction by providing evidence that the endangered Northern Crested Newt’s habitat would be wiped out. Only catch was that the club had to pay a guarantee of 2 million Danish Kroner (roughly 320k USD) in lost earnings in case the developer appealed and won the case, and the club had to do so within 7 days.

We managed to get the money in 36 hours through Facebook-driven donations alone. The machines went packing.

Now, there’s a couple of things to note here. One is how capitalists can’t be trusted. The development company has been vocal in their intention to fight the decision “because how can a damn newt stop a multi-million project?” Companies don’t care about you, they don’t care about your well-being, and if they had it their way free-market style they’d turn the world into a huge slum if it meant more money in their pockets. Keep in mind, the guarantee that was asked for in court was 12 times higher and was based on false statements, which thankfully the judge laughed off.

The other is, piss off enough people and I don’t care how big you are. We’ll end you. It doesn’t take more than a newt to stop lying companies, after all.

I’ll put some articles below on how companies have been lying and cheating their way to contribute to the climate emergency throughout time. I want to make a point that any positive environmental action will always be facing one main opposing force; people sitting in a board room trying to take more resources out of the world than they are giving back to it. And they won’t care if it means your stress levels will go up because you only see trees on TV or that newts will be wiped out of existence or that the seas are emptying or that we’re all getting more cancer or that large parts of the world will become uninhabitable in a few years’ time. The only language they speak is stock prices and bonuses.

Also, just in case some smart-ass asks me if I have an alternative to capitalism that doesn’t involve murderous communism, I do. It’s called social entrepreneurship and my publisher, Inspired Quill, is a company functioning in this manner. Making money and not selling your soul to Satan are not mutually exclusive.

Being in nature is good for your health.

Walmart does nothing towards its zero net deforestation policy.

IKEA happy to use illegal timber, as long as someone else does the felling.

Timber barons straight up murdering activists protecting the Amazon forest.

Tesla, Facebook and others hiding their true environmental impact.

Koch Industries funding climate change denial.

Let’s get something out of the way.

While our future regarding climate change is precarious, things won’t shift overnight. If COVID taught us anything, it’s that there will always be deniers in times of crisis, even in the face of hundreds of thousands of dead. Even at government level.

We will not change to a zero fossil fuel, no food-waste, low footprint economy overnight. For the most part, successful governments are judged on stock market performance, GDP increases, and other metrics that have nothing to do with avoiding environmental disaster. I’d go as far as to say that they are conflicting goals.

One thing I hate is when people keep pointing out negatives about a system but don’t make proposals to change it. “It’s all capitalism’s fault” is a slogan, not a solution. So, here’s my suggestions about how to go about changing things;

Practice good judgement when buying stuff. I recently come across the Ethical Consumer website and I’m excited about how it ranks companies according to sustainability and fairness. Things such as electronics are a huge burden on the environment due to rare metal extraction methods and the chemical processes involved (not to mention the waste they generate).

I’ve mentioned before how the meat industry is a main contributor to climate change and there’s others who have catalogued the health benefits of eating a plant-based diet. But, I get it. Not everyone can or wants to switch to a vegetarian/vegan diet. If you cut down on meat, though, to twice a week, congratulations. You’re doing more for your health and the environment than most people. No one’s asking you to become a soy milk-loving hippy from one day to the next. Meat tastes nice, I get it. Just make an effort.

Last bit. I won’t go into arguments against capitalism, because I don’t have a realistic alternative. I do think it’s the number one reason for ruining our environment. I also think its cousin, social entrepreneurship, may be a solution towards a lot of problems. In brief, SE uses capitalist methods to generate value and give back, as opposed to making a profit only. My publisher, Inspired Quill, funnels profits into LGBT+ and literacy programs. With my upcoming book, The Hush, we’ll be using some of the profits for reforestation purposes. Inspired Quill is not the only company operating in this manner. Patagonia famously pledges 1% of its profits towards environmental causes. Could Patagonia do more? Sure. Are they doing more than 99% of companies out there? Absolutely. Seek those companies out. Vote with your wallets and support their causes.

I personally feel we need to change our mindsets regarding how we operate in nature. And I do think the rhetoric of leaving nature alone is faulty. We are part of nature. We need its resources and will have a footprint, just like a wolf stalking deer does, or a beaver taking down trees. This mindset change won’t happen overnight, there’s too much cultural baggage holding us back. That doesn’t mean we can’t try to get into a position of doing no harm. It’s better than nothing.

Dear friends, good news.

The Hush, my debut novel, got picked up by Inspired Quill for publication aiming for July 2022. Obviously these are exciting news, made doubly so by the fact that Inspired Quill is an indie publisher fighting the good fight. It actively donates to charity and we’re expecting to give some of the proceeds to environmental causes.

I’ll be posting more details as we’ll be getting closer to the date.