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YA Eco Mysteries, Memoirs, Novels & Travel

Eco adventure

Eco Fiction for Tweens,Teens,Adults

Eco Fiction for Tweens, Teens, Adults and Librarians, Too

Eco Fiction Adventures of the Sizzling Six

Why do I write Eco fiction? What do I want readers to say when they refer to my books? I would be thrilled if they said that they love the way I weave the wonders of nature together with a strong conservation message. In particular, I focus my Eco Fiction on young people in the hope that my stories will inspire them to become wise conservationist, who will make a difference to our threatened ecosystems. Here are links to Eco fiction readers, writers, and books:

* Lauren James: Climate Fiction Writers League
* Lovis Geiger: You tube
* Mary Woodbury:

My Videos:
The Story Behind the Book Cover

Story Time with Claire Datnow

My Blogs:

Multicultural, Diverse, and Global Environmental Literature (School Library Journal)The Winds of Climate Change calling Authors of Children's Literature (Dragonfly.Eco)
The Winds of Change Blog blog SCWBI Spring Bulletin

Global Travel Environmental Books

Travel Around the World with Environmental Books

Good Luck Salad Sumatra, Environmental Fiction: Red Flag Warning: An Eco Adventure

One of the joys of traveling is tasting traditional dishes in a colorful setting far from home—and even vicariously enjoying the experience through the stories I read. When my Eco mysteries began following the migratory routes of animals across borders—from birds to butterflies, whales to horseshoes crabs— it opened the door to weaving local color and foods into my stories. I also drew inspiration from my childhood memories of growing up in South Africa. Read More...

Interview: Climate Change Fiction for Teens

Interview: Climate Change Fiction for Teens

Claire Datnow with Students

I’m delighted to present Claire Datnow as this month’ Indie Corner author. Claire was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, which ignited her love for the natural world and diverse cultures. Claire taught creative writing to gifted and talented students in the Birmingham, Alabama, public schools. She earned an MA in Education for Gifted and Talented and a second MA in Public History. Her books for middle schoolers include The Adventures of the Sizzling Six, an eco-mystery series, and Edwin Hubble, Discoverer of Galaxies. Claire’s most recent novel, Red Flag Warning: An Eco Adventure, weaves in the theme of global climate change. Claire’s books for adults include a memoir, Behind The Walled Garden of Apartheid, and The Nine Inheritors. Claire has received numerous scholarships and awards, including the Alabama Conservancy Blanche Dean Award for Outstanding Nature Educator, a Beeson Samford Writing Project Fellowship, a Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher Scholarship, and Birmingham Public School Teacher of the Year. Claire’s Monarch Mysteries was long listed for the Green Book Award 2020. Together with her students she founded a nature trail, now named in her honor, the Alabama Audubon-Datnow Forest Preserve. She enjoys visiting schools to inspire students to write their own eco-mystery stories, to become wise stewards of the Earth, and to take action in their own communities.

Mary: Tell us about yourself—your life so far and how you got started in writing.
Claire: When I was kid growing up in that faraway land of Johannesburg, South Africa, I loved playing outside. In the garden, I pretended the variety of flowers were my students and I was the teacher. Back then, an exciting adventure was a drive into the country for a family picnic, followed by a hike in the veld or along a stream. I guess I was a nature lover and explorer from an early age, and today those early experiences are reflected in, The Adventures of the Sizzling Six. I also fantasized about the amazing adventures I’d have traveling around the world—and, eventually, that dream came true. The diverse people of South Africa, and, later, of cultures around the world, are also woven into my books, especially in Red Flag Warning: An Eco Adventure. My memoir, Behind the Walled Garden of Apartheid: Growing up White in Segregated South Africa, provides a glimpse in the influences that have shaped the stories I write. Oh, I then there are the children—my own sons and daughter, my grandchildren, and my students, who have touched my heart and shaped my life, and the stories I weave.
Mary: Tell us something about your newest novel, Red Flag Warning. Who is the intended audience, and what’s going on in the story?
Claire: It’s not only my past that inspires me but what is happening right now and is likely to happen in the future. Red Flag Warning tells the dramatic story of three special young people from across the world, the amazing animals that are part of their lives, and the terrible threats they face—threats that affect the entire world. The three teens, all scarred by fire, struggle with the deeper wounds to their self-image and dreams. They must learn to respect the wildness of the animals they love and find their own voices, along with the power of community, in their mission to heal the Earth. This novel was sparked by the unprecedented wildfires exploding around the world. The courage of real-life young eco heroes, like Greta Thunburg, who are urging the grown ups to save our planet, also inspired me to create the young tweens and teens in my novels.
Mary: What sorts of ecological themes does your novel have, and how were you inspired to write about them?
Claire: Each book in The Adventures of the Sizzling Six series highlights an endangered species—for example the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker, the Cahaba Lilly, and fresh water mussels—which plunge the tweens into an exciting mystery that they must solve in order to save that species. Each book in this series is inspired by real-life events and the environmentalists who are saving endangered species.
Mary: After publication, did you do any book fairs or talks? How would you describe the reaction to your book? Is it hard to market during the coronavirus?
Claire: I am honored that the reviews of the advanced readers copies were positive—visit for advanced reviews. I enjoy visits to schools to meet and inspire young people and their teachers, and hope to continue my visits when the threat of the virus has passed. I attend writing and library conferences, on Zoom and at book fairs when possible. I offer digital workshops on The Dynamics of Science and Nature Writing for Fiction and Non Fiction. The next workshop will be sponsored by SCBWI on April 10th. I also blog on and other social media.
Mary: Are you working on anything else right now, and do you want to add other thoughts about your book?
Claire: I’ve just begun research for a book that will continue the theme of climate change. This one will explore the impact of rising water levels on the lives of the young people and their families. Each character will be tied together by an object washed ashore on currents from faraway places. I am planning a trilogy (anthology series), so the third book will themed around air pollution. That’s all I can reveal about the stories hatching in my head. Much of my journey in writing stories feels like hiking through a dense forest and discovering untravelled paths to explore and intriguing characters to get to know.

I am excited about my climate change themed series because young people around the world are determined to take action to reduce the dire effects of climate change. My blog, “Climate Change Fiction: Multicultural, Diverse, Global, and with Animals, Too!” crystalizes the themes of my latest work.
Resources and links:
Teen Librarian Toolbox.

YA/teen Eco Fiction

Cover Reveal Climate Change Eco Fiction

Interview by Teresa K. Thorne with Kristina Handler, Illustrator, and Claire Datnow, Author

Teresa: Red Flag Warning: An Eco Adventure tells the dramatic story of three special young people from across the world, the amazing animals that are part of their lives, and the terrible threats they face—threats that affect the entire world. The three teens, all scarred by fire, struggle with the deeper wounds to their self-image and dreams. They must learn to respect the wildness of the animals they love and find their own voices, along with the power of community, in their mission to heal the Earth.

The Story Behind The Cover (Video Interview)

Kristina, could you walk us through the early sketches you made of ideas for the cover.
Kristina: Claire and I discussed the idea of her book's characters circling around a tree, similar to the Christmas card, but the image of Aiysha's eye and her half face was already in my mind before Claire suggested the tree circled with the three characters. I quickly scribbled what was in my head made a rough sketch of Aisyah with flames reflected in her eyes. I was a bit worried it was too rough and after discussing the idea, we decided to try to show all three characters on the front cover with their animal guides. Here's the first sketch, I liked it, but wanted to check with Claire to be sure this was what she wanted. I intended to put the flames in all the eyes and put the 4th character on the back cover. Claire didn't connect with this drawing, so I never completed it. Claire decided that she really liked the first sketch of Aisyah’s face best. I drew several sketches before Claire selected the one that matched the image of Aisyah she had in her head. And here is the beginning of the final drawing for the cover.

Teresa: That was fascinating, Kristina. So what inspired this final image?
Kristina: I have always loved clues in art, literature, and music. Hidden meanings that add depth to a creation delight me. I find when a small hint of information is packed with a huge story, it is more powerful and stimulating to the imagination. I often see worlds in things like a keyhole, a dew drop, the surface of a puddle, or in a window pane. So a reflection of fiery flames, the main point to the story, held in an eye seemed perfect to me. At first, I was thinking of an up close eye. But then I decided that image was too "in your face". After thinking about it, the idea of half the face came to mind. I like that better, because it's half the story and that's better for intrigue. Initially, I cringed to draw the burns and scars until I realized if that side of her face could be on the back cover, then it could be very enticing to a curious reader. I find too much information dilutes interest. My goal was to tantalize one into opening and reading the book.

Teresa: Claire, what ran through your mind and heart the first time you saw Kristina’s cover for Red Flag Warning?
Claire: So much of my journey with this story was like hiking through a dense forest and discovering untravelled paths to explore and intriguing characters to get know. The very first “scribble” for the cover Kristina sent made my heart leap with the thrill of recognition. Her rendering of Aisyah with flames in her eyes captured her calm beauty, but also the terror of a being trapped in a wildfire. I don’t want to give away too much of the story, but like the black figures racing through the palm oil plantation, the three protagonists Aisyah, Hector, and Kirri are trapped in a wildfire. The wildfire changes their lives and launches them into a quest to heal themselves, and save the animals they love, and forests that they live in.

Teresa: Claire, finish this sentence: I was
inspired to write Red Flag Warning by . . .
Claire: by the unprecedented wildfires exploding around the world are real and their devastating consequences, which will continue to be felt for decades to come. Aisyah, Kirri, and Hector’s world is thrown into chaos when thy barely escape wildfires. I decided to add a touch of magical realism to the story with the animals because I wanted to bring home the way in which animals and people are connected to one another and to the earth on which all life depends. Also, when I was kid growing up in that magical land of Johannesburg, South Africa, I loved imagining and dreaming about the adventures I’d have traveling around the world— and, eventually, I did—so, my experiences of different people and their cultures on my travels are reflected in this. And I was also inspired by the determination of real life young Eco heroes who are making a difference and urging the grown up to save our planet.

Teresa: Claire, so that’s another reason is you chose three characters living in different countries to tell their stories?

Claire: That’s right, Teresa. Aisyah is Sumatran, Kirri is an Aboriginal of Australia, and Hector is Hispanic and traces his lineage to the Native American Otomi people of Mexico. I love they way they three bond and become good friends as a result of injuries from a wildfire.
Teresa: Claire, please finish the following sentence starter: Pongo and Aisyah, Kirri and Bultarro, and Hector and Swain save one another because ….
Claire: . . . because of their deep love and compassion for one another.
Teresa: That is so beautiful Claire.

Teresa: Kristina, Climate change is a serious reality. How did you handle this difficult theme and yet leave the reader with a sense of hope?
Response Kristina: I was worried that my idea for the book cover was too serious for the level reader, but let me say, this is a very serious reality on our planet! If the truth is sugarcoated or ignored, we are doing a disservice to our children and the planet. This isn't just an exciting and fun book to read. With all that being said, I gave Aiysha two sides to her face, the side on the front cover is her hopeful and bright side, while the half of her face on the back cover reveals her inner struggle. I wanted her face to carry both sides of the story and show she is still a beautiful and whole person. I drew the integration of struggle and hope into her face. Slide 14
Teresa: Claire, how did you handle this difficult theme and yet leave the reader with a sense of hope?
Claire: Science-based solutions are the key to hope for the future. I weaved scientific knowledge into the story to create hopeful but realistic ending to my story rather than gloomy or magical fairytale ones.
Teresa: And I appreciate the scientific information you weaved so neatly into the story, Claire. I highly recommend this fascinating book to all—it’s entertaining and you’ll be the wiser when you close the last page.

For more information please visit:
Teresa Thorne’s website:
Claire Datnow’s website:
Kristina’s Facebook Page: