The Tree Of Rebels and Disconnection From Nature

So it’s finally here! The day has finally arrived! Sometimes when in the middle of writing and rewriting and crafting a book, publication day can feel like an impossibility. Something so far in the future it feels like it will never happen. The Tree Of RebelsĀ felt like an impossible thing more than once. This was a very tough book to write and one I had a constant love/hate relationship with. It’s very different from my other books and I wrote it with an audience in mind, something I’d never done before.

As I’ve mentioned before, the seed of this book was sown while scrolling through Facebook one day. I’d kept seeing these petitions to sign to stop Monsanto patenting seeds. I didn’t understand a lot of it, but what I did read and digest alarmed me and got the cogs turning in my head. I’ve often thought about nature and who owns it. Have you ever walked through the woods or across a field, only to be stopped by a fence and a Private Property sign? Have you ever stood on a high hill and looked down at the landscape and realised how restricted our movements actually are? How the paths and roads have been laid out for you and how signs and fences stop us roaming as we once did?

The more I thought about large corporations owning seeds and nature and having that control over the food chain, the more I imagined a frightening dystopian world where growing your own food is banned. This might seem like a far fetched idea right now, but for some people this is already becoming a reality. Believe it or not, there are places in America where people are not allowed to have backyard gardens or chickens. Where people can be arrested for attempting to gather rainwater. The frightening future is already on its way…

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Distrustful of GMO’s, hormones in meat, anti-biotics in milk and pesticides on fruit and vegetable, more and more people are turning to growing their own food. Self-sufficiency is becoming popular again, and you can’t deny this is a form of rebellion, of taking back control. It’s vital for our planet too. The meat and dairy industry is literally killing the earth.

Dystopian future in mind, I already knew I wanted to write a young adult book. The protagonist, 13-year-old Lissie had been evolving in my imagination for some time, and now she finally had a place to play and grow. The book undoubtedly evolved into something more than I had envisioned. It’s not just about seeds or a post-apocalyptic future, it’s about rebellion, questioning the status quo, defying your parents and searching for the truth, no matter who it hurts. All classic issues in the complicated journey of growing up.

But one of the main messages I hope people pick up from this book if they do indeed pick up any is the consequences of becoming disconnected from nature.

I’ve always been a bit of a dreamer. A head in the clouds type of girl. I love nothing more than a walk down the lane, to the river, or across the fields, the common, or the woods. Something special happens to us when we are in nature, when we walk barefoot upon the earth, when we touch trees, smell leaves and view flowers and wild animals. Sometimes I think I might be a bit odd. I have very strong urges to touch and hug trees. They call to me, they really do. Once I lay my hand on the trunk of an ancient Oak, I find it very hard to pull away. I can’t get over the fact they are helping me to breathe! They are eating pollution. Without them, we would all die. The same goes for the humble bee and other vital pollinators. We simply cannot afford to ignore nature. We are nature. And I truly worry that many of us have forgotten.

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Where I live is very beautiful, but I fear that others do not see it. When they race their cars down the narrow lane and hurl their rubbish into the bushes, I fear they never linger long enough to see the beauty and majesty of the trees. I fear they have no clue that they would die if the trees were not there. I’m fascinated by the unseen lives of birds, insects, and animals. I’ll stare at birds in the sky, watching their flight, hearing their cry, wondering where they are going and where they live and what they do. I want to know. I want to be part of their world. Sometimes I feel like I am trespassing. Especially come dusk when the bats start circling and the owls start hooting. This is their time, not mine. How they must despise us, I often think.

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I think the thing we are often missing is gratitude and wonder. I am in awe of nature which makes me want to protect and nurture it. Sadly, others just don’t see it at all. In truth, this means they do not see themselves. They are disconnected from it, therefore they don’t care about it or appreciate it. If you don’t care about something, or see the value in it, you’re not going to go out of your way to protect it, are you?

In Lissie’s world, the people are taken care of. They are housed and fed and educated and worked. There is no war or violence. They have returned to traditional ways, fearful of the technological world that enabled war and destruction to almost wipe out the entire human race. But in order to keep them contained, the people are separate from nature. Food is grown and delivered to them. Animals are raised in domes . Unwanted plants are circled and torn up. Wild animals are feared and killed. They know very little of the natural world. And this is all sold to them as the perfect world. A society without war and hunger and homelessness. A safe, sheltered, catered for life. It’s Lissie who resists this version of life and strives to find out more about the outside world. A true rebel, spurred on by the dying words of her Great-Grandmother, she seeks the truth. What happened to the Old World? Who destroyed it and why?

Please feel free to leave a comment! What are your fears for the future? Do you enjoy reading post-apocalyptic or dystopian books, and if so why? How do you feel about the issues of humans becoming disconnected from nature? What can we do about any of it? I would love to hear your thoughts!

 

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Character Interview – Lissie Turner; The Tree Of Rebels

1 ) Tell us what your positive character traits are

I’m loyal…well, some people might disagree with that. But I know I’m loyal to my friends. I’m a dreamer. My parents wouldn’t call that a positive thing, but my Great-Grandmother would. I’m fast! I am the fastest girl in Province 5! I’m fierce when I need to be and I won’t be bullied.

2)What would you say are your negative character traits?

That I’m a dreamer…I have my head in the clouds and I’m not ready to be an adult yet. That I’m nosy and stubborn. I’m rebellious, although I only found that out recently.

3) What are your current ambitions or dreams?

I want to get out of Province 5. I dream about other places and people and other ways of life. I want to know more about how and why the Old World died and I want to have a say in the future. I don’t like everything I see here at home, and I want to explore, try things out, question things.

4) What are your fears?

My fears are that I will never leave the Province or find out what happened to the Old World. I fear I will let my parents down, no matter what I do. I fear destroying my family and being all alone. I also fear the truth. I know we are not being told the truth here and that scares me. Life is pretty good here. No one complains. Everyone has everything they need and everything is calm and peaceful. But I know it’s all based on lies. Sometimes I think the truth scares me more than anything.

5) Do you have any enemies?

Yes, Saul Lancaster has been my enemy for as long as I can remember. I could never work it out before, because his father, the Governor here in Province 5 seems to really think highly of my family and even gave me special duties in his garden. But Saul hates me and has had it in for me since we were little kids. He’s a bully and I despise him. If he ever ends up in charge of this place, he’ll be the worst Governor ever! As for Soren Lancaster, his father, I think he might be my enemy too. He’s trying very hard to keep me on side, but he knows I know things I shouldn’t. He knows I am dangerous.

6) Tell us about your best friend

Ned is my best friend. His parents are friends with mine. I’ve always had to stick up for him because of people like Saul, and because his parents don’t seem to notice he is even alive. Their first son died, you see, and although Ned came along, they never got over t and can’t seem to see him at all. Poor Ned. He’s the best friend ever. He’s not scared of anything. He’s like me. He just wants to be excited, he just wants to ask questions and know stuff! we’re in this together. I feel bad about getting him into trouble too but he says he doesn’t care.

7) What’s your biggest secret?

My biggest secret is my Great-Grandmother’s diary. She wrote it when she was a girl like me, so it’s our only bit of history. It’s a true account of what it was like in the Old World where they had online and cars and stuff like that! It’s so fascinating to read, I just can’t put it down. There are wars going on all over the place and they’re on the run now because they got in trouble for growing their own food! I’m learning so much about how things used to be and how things ended up like this.

8) Do you have any regrets?

Hmm, not yet. I do feel guilty. I feel guilty about lying to my parents, hiding the diary and going outside of the Province. I feel guilty that I am not what they want me to be. But I don’t regret any of it. Not yet.

9) Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

Well, if nothing changes, I will be living in my own hut, probably coupled and probably with a child. I will be working for Animal Control or the hospital like my parents. I will be just like them. But if everything changes? Who knows? I could be out there! Free. I could be wandering around, setting up camp, sleeping under the stars, like Aisha and the other rebels. I could be a rebel. I think I am a rebel.