(c) JIM LAUGHTER 2011
[NOTE; This is NOT the book cover. This is just a draft cover designed by an artist overseas merely as a draft. The final book cover will be mucb different. Just to add some color to this page only.]NOTE: This blog recently spent some quality online time with American author Jim Laughter and asked him a series of questions about a new book he is writing that I believe will forever change the face of apathy on global warming. I believe you will find it both interesting and entertaining. Please note that Jim is not an environmentalist. He is a writer who has tackled the issue of global warming head-on and is writing a fascinating fiction novel about the possible effects it will have on future generations. He has been kind enough to share the text of this new book with this blogger, but we are sworn to secrecy, so we’ve agreed not to post the content of his novel on this blog. Instead, we’ll let Jim reveal as much detail as he wants to, then we’ll wait for the book.
[DAN ADDS: I can tell you this; I’m hooked. I’ve read over and over the pieces of rough draft that he has sent to me and I can’t wait for the book to find a publisher and hit the market. If you are concerned about global warming and the damage it is causing to our planet, you will also want this new book.]
QUESTION #1: Without giving away the title of your book or its setting or time frame -- although if you wish to dish, please do -- what is your new book about, and what genre is it? Sci/Fi? Adventure thriller? Speculative fiction? What? Do any terms come to mind?
JIM lAUGHTER: I don’t mind telling YOU the title of MY new book. Unless something changes,
the title will be ''Polar City Red''.
I’ve never heard of speculative fiction, but I like the sound of it. I’m a fiction writer. I co-author a young adult sci/fi adventure series called ''Galactic Axia''. It is fiction based in science, but it’s not hard science fiction. Although I have a vivid imagination, I’m afraid science was not my strongest class in school. I tended more toward business math and English, literature, spelling, typing, recess; you know, the creative arts. I worked on the school yearbook staff and found the publishing aspect of the procedure fascinating. When I entered the Air Force in 1971, I instinctively gravitated toward the administration side of the service and became a supply specialist. I won’t tell you the names the mechanics and other grease monkeys tagged us supply types, but I always let them know that you can’t fly without supply.
Along with my sci/fi series, I also dabble in true crime, murder thriller, and children’s books. My most challenging book was writing From Victim to Hero – The Untold Story of Steven Stayner. This is a book about a 7-year-old boy from Merced, California that was kidnapped and held captive and abused for 7-years by a convicted pedophile. But after seven years, Steven escaped from his captor and rescued a second abducted child and returned him to his family. Although I wrote the book in fiction format, the facts of the book are true, and even ninety percent of the names are real people. It took me six months to write this book because the facts involved tore at me every day. There were times when I didn’t think I’d be able to finish it, and then I would think about this brave child that risked his own life to rescue another boy. I knew I couldn’t lay the project aside, if for no other reason than to preserve his legacy.
My most recent novel is a murder thriller titled The Apostle Murders. Including the research involved, as well as other circumstances, it took almost two years to complete this book. I know that sounds
excessive, but I wanted to be absolutely certain that given the premise of the
book, I had all of my facts correct. This is a book about a modern-day Christian
evangelist that has grown discontent with the state of Christianity and believes
God has called him to restore order to the modern church. Although he is a
true believer, and his faith is unwavering, he believes that God has called him
to recreate the martyrdom of the original apostles of Jesus Christ. So while he’s
preaching on the weekend, he’s a serial killer during the week, traveling the
country in search of God’s next apostolic sacrifice. Of course, there’s a dedicated
team of federal investigators hot on his trail, one of which is perfectly suited to
track a religious fanatic, one that is an ivy league-educated female agent, and
another that is the crabby old uncle we all try to forget. This eclectic cast of
characters will keep you on your toes. By the way, I based the serial killer on my
own father. Enough said…
And now for one more shameless plug. October 1, 2011 saw the release of my first
children’s book. Strangers in the Stable is a look at the birth of Jesus Christ
as seen from the viewpoint of the animals in the stable that first Christmas over
2000 years ago. It is a beautifully illustrated 3-D graphic book that tells the story
of Jesus’ birth from a unique perspective.
All of my books can be viewed at my website http://www.jimlaughter.com/
readers will find all the links they need to order paperback, kindle, and nook
versions. The paperback versions of my books are less expensive at my website
than they are anywhere else in the world, and I usually have a ready supply on
hand for immediate shipment. I’d love to sign 100,000 copies and mail them out
tomorrow. Well, maybe not all 100,000 tomorrow, but pretty darn quick.
Now back to your original question about the genre of Polar City Red. To say this
is science fiction might be a bit of a stretch, and I don’t think it’s an adventure. It
is shaping up into a bit of a thriller but I don’t expect it to continue in that vein.
You asked me what the book is about. If you were anyone else, I’d come back with
a smart-aleck reply and say it’s about 300 pages. Instead, I guess my simplest
answer would be that it’s about the effects global warming will have on the planet
and on future generations faced with either survival or extinction.
From the reports I’ve read and the research I’ve done, global warming is a real
threat to the survival of our planet. I don’t really know enough about the hard
science behind global warming to make any scientific predictions, but it doesn’t
take a rocket scientist to see that the worldwide climate is going through dramatic
changes. Unless governments around the world gain control of the carbon
dioxide levels overtaking the atmosphere, we are going to lose our planet. We’ve
seen weather-pattern shifts over the last twenty-years that may set the standard
for climate changes for thousands of years to come.
I did something this year that I never thought I would ever do in Oklahoma – I
bought a snow blower! Why? Because Oklahoma has suffered unprecedented
blizzards the last several years and I’ve been snowed in over a dozen times. Quite
frankly, I’m tired of shovels.
2. Dan: When did you start writing Polar City Red, and when do you hope/plan to
finish it and send it to your longtime publisher, where you have already published
a half-dozen of your books?
Jim: I wrote the prologue for ''Polar City Red'' in August 2011. As you know, a
mutual friend of ours, author Charles W. Sasser approached me with information
that you had sent to him concerning the effects of global warming on the
environment. He thought the information was intriguing and would make a
good book but he was tied up in two or three other projects that he could not
get away from, and I had had just finished The Apostle Murders and Strangers
in the Stable. Charles endorsed The Apostle Murders, so he asked me if I’d like
to take a stab at global warming. After spending a few days on the computer
reading everything I could find about the phenomenon, and after communicating
a couple of times with you, I decided this was a story that needed to be told.
I don’t really have a deadline for Polar City Red. I am not locked into a next-
project contract, so I plan to keep my options open and possibly publish this one
through a larger publishing house.
If I can stay on my current
schedule and working outline, I hope to have the first draft finished by the end of
January. Since I am writing it as a fiction, it will depend on my characters and if
they stay focused on the task at hand. I try to not let them wonder too far afield,
but to paraphrase something Forest Gump’s momma told him, “A novel is a box
of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
3. Dan: Who is your target audience for this new book? Teens? Young adults?
College students? Middle-aged adults? Climate activists? Climate
denialists? Who? Just in general or in a few categories.
Jim: I don’t really think I’d tag an age group to the readership of this book. It
will be entertaining enough to hold the interest of the most avid fiction reader,
yet factual enough to stir the hearts of politicians and other civic leaders to action
to protect our world. I had a man tell me yesterday that global warming is just
a myth. He saw a program on television, so it must be true, that said it’s a scare
tactic to direct people’s attention away from truly serious issues such as the
economy and the state of international affairs. He’s right about one thing; it’s a
scary subject. And if projections are correct about the amount of carbon dioxide
polluting our atmosphere, and about the oceans and forests losing their ability to
absorb nitrogen from the air and produce oxygen, we’d better be scared. We may
not be at the point of panic yet, but the day is coming when this old world is going
to turn its back on us and invite us to leave forever.
4. Dan: Who do you hope reads your book? Al Gore? Bill McKibben, James
Jim: I hope this book will be read by everyone concerned about the world we
live in; by people who care about the future of their children and grandchildren,
and about the planet we leave for succeeding generations. Of course, I’d be very
happy if any of these gentlemen would read the book. They are all respected
leaders in the fight against global warming. Being a writer, I’d certainly welcome
a blurb or endorsement from any of them. I believe this book will not only
entertain readers but will also help bring to light the dangers our planet faces.
5. Dan: Who is the book about? What is the theme of your new book, without
giving away too much of the plot or intricate details in terms of the characters you
are creating? A family in the future? Scientists in the future? Average Joe in the
Jim: Polar City Red is set near the end of the 21st century after the Earth has
been devastated by the effects of global warming. The polar caps have melted
and sea levels have risen past their capacity. Trillions of tons of water have
moved inland, devastating the infrastructures of the world. Massive fires have
devastated the Earth’s woodlands, weather patterns have changed, glacial melt
has swelled rivers and lakes out of their banks, and governments have fallen. But
situated 300 miles north of the city once known as Fairbanks, Alaska, one of a
dozen scientific communities set up in the early 21st century is now home to a
remnant of humanity’s survivors that have migrated to the once-frozen tundra to
carve out new lives for themselves and their children. This city is Polar City Red.
Yes, there is a scientific element central to the story, and I’ve created a cast of
very strong characters. One of the families is a doctor and her school teacher
husband, the scientist in charge of the city, an eccentric hunter, a military
element, and scavengers that refuse to live by the laws established by the
community. Woven together into a fast-paced narrative, you will experience their
frustrations and their delights. There is a tragic element to the story. There has to
be when you talk about the loss of billions of lives. But there is also a human and
humorous element in the story when mankind proves once again that we are not
only capable of destroying everything around us, we’re still able to keep our noses
out of the water to live another day.
6. Dan: If I understand your Galactic Axia series, you’ve written over a dozen
sci/fi novels and have a good track record with your publisher. Polar City Red is
about climate change and global warming impacts in the future. Do you think
there is much of an audience for this kind of fictional novel?
Jim: Yes, the Galactic Axia series is a huge undertaking. At present, there are
four books published in the 20-book series, so we still have a long way to go
with that project. Truth is, my co-author (Victor Bretthauer) and I have written
the rough drafts for sixteen of the books in the series. We have two manuscripts
awaiting publication now, and we plan to release two or three books a year until
the series is fully published. But sci/fi runs in spurts, and it’s difficult to promote,
so we’re taking our time and doing it one step at a time.
As for a book about global warming, yes, I believe there is an audience for it as
long as I can keep it enjoyable to read, informative, and relevant. I want people
to read this book then make their own conscientious decision to investigate
the issue to global warming. I want people to make up their own minds about
the dangers facing humanity, not just listen to the talking heads that spew
their rhetoric and the fossil-fuel burning industries whose only concern is their
profit sheet. If global warming is the imminent threat it appears to be, we’d all
of us better start thinking for ourselves. Don’t take my word for it. Don’t take
anybody’s word for it. Do your own homework, weigh the matter, then make your
7. Dan: When the book is published, what are your promotion plans? Local and
national newspaper and television station interviews? Book signings at local
stores? Readings? Lectures?
Jim: All of the above, and as much as I can get. Of course, promotion is an
important part of the publishing business. It’s not like it used to be in the
old days when a publisher bought a manuscript then spent millions of dollars
promoting it. Writers at all levels of success are now expected to promote their
own work. Very few publishers assign a publicist to a writer now, so writers
hire their own publicists. The good news is that with the advent of social media
outlets, a writer can now promote himself/herself as well as any agent or hired-
gun. It just takes time, effort, and tenacity to establish their brand and get their
work into the public eye.
I hate to say it but bookstores are almost a thing of the past. Electronic books
such as Kindle, Nook, and iBook have replaced trips to the bookstore where
shoppers browsed the bookshelves looking for that perfect fireside read. For
example (here’s another shameless plug), a person shopping with their Kindle
or Nook reader (including smart phone applications) can buy any of my novels
for $2.99 each instead of $15 in a bookstore. This doesn’t bother me or any other
writer a bit because the royalty we get is about the same either way.
I know that doesn’t make much sense to the average reader, but paper books are
expensive to produce, distribute, and shelve. Electronic books download instantly
to the device so a reader can sit by the pool, download a book, and have access to
it within seconds instead of ordering a book that takes two weeks to get to them.
Now electronic books are coming available for loan at libraries just like paper
books. It’s a win-win for everyone.
8. Dan: Since your book is about climate change and global warming, but
written as a fiction novel set in the near future and focuses on climate issues and
the survival of the human race, do you think people like Al Gore or Bill McKibben
might read it and maybe even support it with cover blurbs or reviews they write
Jim: As I answered in one of the preceding questions, I certainly hope they
will read this book and find it entertaining and informative. I would certainly
welcome a blurb or review by Mr. Gore, Mr. Hansen, or Mr. McKibben. All of
these men are respected leaders in the field of climate integrity.
9. Dan: You are in your late 50s. You’ve worked and travelled around the world
to dozens of countries. You served 20 years in the U.S. Air Force with tours of
duty in Japan, the Philippines, and England, as well as military bases in the United
States, so you know this planet pretty well. You have three children and four
grandchildren. Is your novel intended in any way as a kind of love letter to your
grandchildren and generations down the road? Is this something you hope your
own grandkids might read when they grow up?
Jim: Well, first things first, and I guess the first thing I should do is run down to
the drug store and pick up a bottle of Grecian Formula and try to brush some of
this grey out of my beard and hair.
Yes, I’m sneaking up on 60 years of age, and I have travelled around the world a few
times. I spent 20 years-active duty in the U.S. Air Force and served 13 of
those years in foreign countries. I’m not sure I’m as world-wise as you think I am,
but I’ve been around the block a time or two.
My three children (all boys) are grown men now with families of their own,
and my four grandchildren are the light of my life. I am truly blessed with a
wonderful family. I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything. It would have been nice
if my wife had been rich when I married her 40 years ago this past September,
but she wasn’t and we’re still together. No regrets.
Is ''Polar City Red'' a love letter to my grandchildren with hope they may read it
when they grow up? Good question: I hadn’t thought about it that way.
I hope they’ll read and
understand it and heed its message. My youngest grandchild is only 1-year old, so
by the time she’s 30, there will be 14 billion people living on this planet. Unless
we do something drastic to prevent it, those 14 billion people will be burning
unprecedented amounts of fossil fuels and our atmosphere will be saturated with
so much carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses that it won’t be able to
I am concerned with what kind of world we’re leaving our grandchildren.
So no, it’s not a ''love letter'' to my grandchildren. If anything, it’s ''a plea'' for them to
live life aware of their environment and to become part of the solution, not part of
10. What is your own personal take on climate change and global warming?
Should we be worried? By we, I mean the human race? Are we under threat for
the future, or has the entire thing been overblown?
Jim: I said earlier in this interview that I bought a snow blower this year for the first
time in my life. I shoveled enough snow the last three winters to fill a freight
train. Floods and fire ravage our world, along with unprecedented monster
storms and environmental disturbances that destroy everything they touch. I am
convinced from the limited research that I’ve been able to do that global warming
and the threat of greenhouse gasses trapped in our atmosphere is a real threat
to the survival of humanity as a species. We are, after all, the only species on the
planet intelligently stupid enough to cause our own extinction. If we continue on
the course we’ve traveled the last 100 years, mankind as we know it will cease to
exist within the next two centuries. Is that answer grim enough?
11. Dan: Will your book be accessible and understandable, both for lay people
who do not know much about the science of global warming, and for the
community of scientists and climate activists who have been studying this issue
Jim: I’m not smart enough to scientifically explain the intricacies of global
warming. But neither am I stupid enough to ignore the signs around me. I’ve
driven through a few stop signs and traffic lights in my life, only to be stopped by
policemen alert to the situation. The human race had better start paying attention
to the signs around us if we want to leave a habitable planet for generations to
Yes, ''Polar City Red'' will be both accessible and understandable to the lay person.
I’m sure scientists many times smarter than me will read the
book and say, “I could have said that better.” They’re probably right. But I hope scientists will also enjoy the book, without
being too critical.
I think I write well enough for people at all educational levels to read the book
and find something they can take home with them. And I hope the message I’m
trying to convey isn’t overshadowed by criticism and skepticism. You never know
when a scientist or activist studying global warming might read something in the
book and realize their life hasn’t been wasted trying to warn mankind of our folly
when we burn billions of tons of fossil fuels every year and expend dangerous
levels of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Dan: This has been an informative and enlightening conversation with Jim
Laughter. I know I’m looking forward to the release of ''Polar City Red'' in 2012. We’ll see
about posting a few excerpts from the book from time to time, and will keep our
readers informed of its progress.
Thanks again, Jim, for spending time with this blogger online, and for answering
questions that I know the readers of the blog will be interested in. Let’s stay in
Jim: It’s been fun. And yes, we’ll see about posting a few excerpts from time to
time as the book progresses. My problem with excerpts is that I’m always editing
and changing stuff, so the excerpt we post may not be in the final draft. But again, “A novel is a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”