I can’t remember the specific day or time I got the idea for my new YA post-apocalyptic series, The Day The Earth Turned – but I do know the place.
From my house, if you come out of the gate and turn left you are standing beside a busy road but if you turn right you head down a pleasant leafy lane, lined by ancient oaks. Beyond the oaks are fields and farmland, a small copse, and as we reach the end of Mill Lane and turn left, the Moors river ripples peacefully through.
Heading this way, the thick hawthorn hedging on your right gives glimpses of the fields beyond – fields that have been quarried one by one over the years, each one taking their turn to be ripped up and then eventually, left to recover. And recover they do. The field behind our house was a field when we first moved in – then months later it was quarried for sand and looked awful. The grass gone, the earth overturned, huge machines ripping up the land. Once they had finished, they moved on and the grass and wildflowers grew back.
About four years ago we heard that the quarrying had reached its end and the fields were earmarked for development. The landowner, who happens to also be our landlord, was considering various options that would continue to make the fields profitable for him and one proposal was a fake lagoon or water park.
We listened in horror. Not only would the land be built over, but tons of concrete would be poured on top of it, then thousands of visitors would be encouraged to flock to this new leisure facility daily. As residents of a semi-rural village that already has an airport to contend with, we felt the look, feel and pace of our home would be ruined forever. The busy road I mentioned is always busy and it only takes one accident, or one local event, and the whole area gets gridlocked. Thankfuly, the lanes linking around the village are relatively quiet and peaceful which means they and the surrounding fields, rivers and woods are a haven for wildlife.
The plot of land they want to develop is beautiful. Its mostly fields, surrounded by thick hedging and trees with a long copse in the centre. We see small herds of deer on the fields behind our house almost daily. We also have barn owls and tawny owls, buzzards and sparrowhawks, stoats and weasels, rabbits, badgers and even hares in the area. I felt devastated when I pictured those fields built on. Not even for much needed housing, but for a water park when we live ten minutes from the beach?
Where would the wildlife go? They wouldn’t stay, that was for sure. The quiet lanes would become a nightmare of jammed cars or they would have to be widened and that would mean more trees being felled and ancient hedges being ripped out.
It was a horrifying thought and it still is.
I was almost thankful for Covid putting a brake on it all. The village was even more beautiful and peaceful during lockdowns.
At the moment, not much has happened. The land has been left untouched and as far as I know the planning proposal for the fake lagoon never went through. But something will one day. After all, rich people who already own land and houses, need more money, right? Poor things.
Anyway, I think that was the spark that set this series in motion. I was so pissed off. I walked down the lane thinking about how under threat it all was, how everything is constantly under threat from mankind, how humans just rip it all up, tear it down, stamp all over it, pollute and ruin it. The UK is one of the most nature depleted countries in the world…
Walking down the lane to the river usually fills me with peace and gratitude, but sometimes it makes me sad and angry too. It’s a hot spot for fly tipping and its even worse when you find they have chucked it in the river. I can’t understand people abusing the earth they depend on. I can’t understand people who chuck rubbish out of car windows. I cannot understand seeing a beautiful plot of land and wanting to build something so ridiculous on it.
I felt angry and I felt like nature was angry too. Or it should be if it could be. I started thinking, if only Mother Nature was a real conscious entity, what would she do to us? She would perceive us as a threat to her life and she would seek to eliminate us, I’m sure.
That’s where the idea came from. Almost wishing nature could do this, almost wishing wildlife would turn on us for a change. When you consider what we have done to the natural world and to animals over the centuries, we ought to be ashamed, and we deserve to be punished for it. I’ve often wondered how different our relationship with animals would be if they could talk. If they were to go up a level in consciousness, intelligence and self-awareness, for instance. Would we still find it so easy to destroy them and their homes?
And funnily enough, recent years have seen an increase in wild animal attacks on human populations, probably partly due to humans encroaching more and more on their territory and of course, made worse by the effects of climate change. Just yesterday I was reading an article about an orca who seems to have trained her pod to hunt and destroy fishing boats after she was injured by one.
In The Day The Earth Turned series, I delve into a world where the adults have been culled by nature itself. She has shaken them free, destroyed them to save herself. The children remain, but can they figure out how to survive in this new world without enraging Mother Nature again? In this new world, animals have reached new levels of aggression and consciousness. This turns out well for a character called George who befriends an otter, but not so well for another character called Gus when he is ambushed by crows and a dog at the same time. Even tiny robins can cause problems and everyone needs to stay out of the path of the furious stag.
The animals are angry. They are filled with rage. This is their world once again, and the children need to learn fast to survive.
I wrote my ideas down in a tiny notebook four years ago, and then two years ago I finally started writing the books. It was a stop-start process at first as I was also finishing up The Boy With The Thorn In His Side series, but once that was done I dedicated myself to this new post-apocalyptic series. It was hard to write! But more on that another day.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about where the idea for this series came from.
The book is available for preorder on Amazon right now and I’d really love it if you gave it a go!
Here is the link!https://www.amazon.co.uk/Day-Earth-Turned-Book-Summer-ebook/dp/B0C5MP91J7/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=chantelle+atkins&qid=1685093948&sr=8-2: The Day The Earth Turned (On Us) – From Concept To Series