EcoLit is an emerging genre of Literature that is an exciting and important mash up of many favorites like romance, contemporary, suspense, sci fi, dystopian, even horror and inspiration. No matter what genres a story pulls from, what makes EcoLit unique is that key plot points and inciting incidents stem from something that is elemental, environmental, or supernatural. Historic examples of EcoLit books include John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath and Madeline L'Engle's The Arm of the Starfish, the second of which heavily influenced my own writing.
I first heard about EcoLit, as far as a trend went, from Betsy Bird, Youth Materials Collection Specialist for the New York Public Library who has served on the Newbery committee. A couple weeks later, Scholastic added it to the number ten spot on it's coming trends list for 2013, and I almost cried. I had just finished editing CLICKS, my debut novel that is based around a mythology involving environmental balance. At the time, I’d had a number of agents and publishers tell me that people weren’t interested in reading about the environment. I pushed through towards releasing, in spite of the advice, because I simply HAD to. The environmental issues in our world seemed to be getting worse, and all the facts in the world can’t seem to convince people to make material changes in their daily lives that make a significant difference.
That, to me, is why EcoLit is so critically important. It’s not about the facts or the stories so much as it’s about the way fiction transports us to another place, let’s us live in another world, and the way it can change the way that we live in this one. For that reason, I’m excited to see more and more of it hit the shelves, especially for the New Adult category. Here are some of my favorites from the past year:
Waterfall (The Water Crisis Chronicles) by Amber Garr
In A Handful Of Dust – Mindy McGuiness
Elected by Rory Shay
Charged – Book Two of The Grounded Series by GP Ching
Fragile Creatures by Kristina Circelli