Interview & Giveaway: Weather Menders by Debra Denker

Hello, dear readers! Today on the blog I am super excited to be hosting an interview with Debra Denker, who is on tour for Weather Menders!

Hello Debra and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about Weather Menders!

To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and your writing?

I have had an active imagination and vivid dreams since early childhood. I loved reading and by the time I was 10 was reading historical fiction set in Ancient Egypt and in Biblical times, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, Edgar Cayce, books about Lemuria and Atlantis, and Ray Bradbury and other sci-fi authors. Inspired by all these, I came to love creative writing, and later, at Hollywood High School, film-making. I’ve been fortunate to travel in over 50 countries so far, as my mom loved to travel and to meet people heart-to-heart. She taught me that people are people, that we all want the same things, and that there is much more that connects us all than divides us.

What inspired you to write Weather Menders?

I have been concerned about climate change since high school when I learned about the Greenhouse Effect. In the early 70’s, with the first few Earth Days, scientists were predicting that if we didn’t slow the rate of carbon going into the atmosphere, the planet would begin to warm as soon as 200 years from then. I’ve always been one to take the long view, and so added that to my worries about nuclear war. But at the time I think people were pretty optimistic that we were at the dawning of the age of solar energy and would soon be off of fossil fuels altogether, and would move back towards traditional agricultural practices in harmony with the Earth. It’s shocking to see that we have moved so far in the wrong direction. Because I have been working as an energy healer and spiritual counselor since the mid-80’s, I believe in the role of consciousness, especially collective focused intentionality in the form of visualizations, prayer, and creative meditation, in creating a different reality. Climate breakdown is the defining existential crisis of our time, and I started to think that mitigation and adaptation will not be enough. What if we think bigger? What if we start thinking of how to reverse climate change?

A companion question for me was, “If time travel were real, what turning point would we need to go to so that climate change never happened?” The characters began to appear and come alive for me when I was traveling in the UK in the very hot summer of 2013. I was with a spiritual group privileged to do ceremony for Earth-healing at dawn in the center of Stonehenge on the Mayan Day Out of Time. We went on to do a peace meditation at Avebury. I wondered what those ancient stones had witnessed, what they could tell us, and if they were somehow “encoded” with history and wisdom.

Weather Menders is my prayer for the Earth and for the future of all her children—humans, animals, plants, Gaia herself. Although we enter the possible dystopian future of a changed and much warmer post-plague world, the characters visualize what is possible if the world had embraced a different paradigm at the crucial turning point of 1978 through 1980. What if, instead of turning to oil and wars for oil, we had gone down the path of living in harmony with each other and all life on Earth?

Cli-Fi is a new genre and climate change is a huge topic of discussion at the moment, do you foresee the genre growing in the future?

I think we will look back on 2018, with its endless stream of extreme weather events that have continued into 2019, as a watershed year for consciousness about climate change. Since cli-fi is about the human response to our rapidly changing environment, where we have already lost the markers of the cycles of the seasons and so much of what we could count on to comfort us, I think more people will be writing in this genre. A lot of it is bound to be dystopian, an approach I’ve never cared for. I don’t like reading books or watching movies where you want to kill yourself afterwards. I call Weather Menders “a cli-fi novel for the hopeful.” I will never ever give up hope, as long as I am alive, even if I live as long as Tara. We have to reimagine the world, re-visualize it as the world we want to see. But we should not be in denial about what is happening right now, and why. We have to face the truth in order to begin the systemic and personal changes that are needed to pull ourselves out of the metaphoric and literal fire.

What research did you undertake when writing Weather Menders?

I’ve been obsessing over reading articles on climate change for years. It used to be that I would only find them on the BBC Science page or alternative media like Democracy Now! Sometimes I would feel an intuition to go on the Internet in the middle of the night. I’d hear “go to the BBC Science page” and find a piece of information, usually dire, that I needed to know.

I actually searched questions like “What would reverse climate change?” and did come up with some answers. One that stands out is a 2014 White Paper from the Rodale Institute, involved in organic agriculture, that calculated that with a massive shift to organic farming and Regenerative Agriculture practices, we could draw down so much carbon from the atmosphere back into the soil and forests that we could return the atmosphere to pre-industrial levels by 2050. I needed this kind of hope, so I would search for details on these practices, alongside reading the increasingly dire scientific studies and daily reports of unnatural disasters.

I also Googled “what would have prevented Margaret Thatcher’s election” and read a lot about what was going on in the UK in 1978, when I was living there as a budding novelist and journalist. I already knew about the controversial “October Surprise” conspiracy between the US Republican Party and the Iranian revolutionaries to make sure that President Carter’s deal to release the American Embassy hostages was sidelined, making Carter look ineffectual and in effect tilting the election toward Reagan. I was an international journalist by then and found it suspicious that the hostages were released a minute after Reagan took the oath of office. Later there was a Congressional investigation, although it was inconclusive. I read many articles on this, inspired by having heard the progressive commentator Thom Hartmann discuss it on a number of occasions. Rep. Lee Hamilton at one point stated that he never would have closed the Congressional investigation if information that later came to light had been available, so I’m quite convinced that this conspiracy actually happened, and is well-documented by some excellent investigative reporting, especially by journalist Robert Parry.

What was your favorite scene to write?

I of course loved all the scenes with Georgie the time traveling cat, so I really enjoyed writing the opening scene and setting the tone of the book with Georgie talking to Tara on page 1. Perhaps my favorite scene is Tara’s dream of Alaska and talking to the polar bear, followed by her transcendent out of body experience of flying far above the Earth and looking down on a renewed Earth, because it is a simple vision of hope.

What was the most difficult scene to write?

When Tara looks back on her life in every other chapter, she experiences a lot of losses of loved ones even as the climate is breaking down and three plagues are decimating the population and changing the fabric of society as we know it. Every time I had to edit and proof the book, I cried at all those scenes. One of the most painful is the Taliban’s assassination of Xander’s beloved cousin Fawzia, a women’s rights leader in Afghanistan. I have close friends there who are women’s rights and human rights leaders there, and I fear for them and pray that such a scenario will never come to pass.

Technically the most difficult scene was the climactic last few chapters that pulling the story together. There are so many characters involved, and so much has to happen fast and to make sense. The reader hopefully has come to know and love the characters well enough by then to care about them and follow all the roles they must play. I actually had no idea of the heroic role that Georgie the cat would play until I was writing the scene.

I wrote most of the first draft at a wonderful literary hotel in Newport, Oregon called the Sylvia Beach, which has no wi-fi and does have cats. Every room has an author theme. I stayed in Oscar Wilde, Jules Verne, and Alice Walker. I would write about 8 hours a day, in two hour spurts and generally finish a chapter and then take a break, walk on the beach, go see a lighthouse, or meditate, and then go back and write some more. I got right up to that difficult scene of the last few chapters and had to go home and didn’t get back to work on it for months, until I was able to set aside time to take a complete retreat from the Internet and phones in my own home and focus only on writing.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

At age 10 my best friend and I started writing a novel about little people called Latticks. I actually found it recently and copied the pages and sent them to her. We were quite derivative, inspired by The Hobbit. We were the new girls in school and both loved reading and writing, and decided we would be writers when we grew up.

What does your daily writing routine look like?

I wish I had a daily writing routine. Instead, I seem to have a daily fighting with technology routine. I’m writing the answers to your questions late at night because I spent all day hassling with an insurance company billing error, troubleshooting a broken printer, and buying a new printer.

But seriously, although I don’t write every day, I constantly have ideas running through my head. I find that in a way I “journal” in emails to friends, even thoughtful Facebook posts, rather than a formal journal, though I still write down dreams and significant events and insights. I constantly have ideas for my Weather Menders cli-fi blog, but it takes me awhile to write them up.

I find that to write a novel or screenplay I have to take a certain number of days of retreat, away from communication with anyone other than my three familiars, my cats, and definitely away from the endless distraction of email, text messages, and social media. Not that those things aren’t useful at times, but the only way that I can currently control them is by periodically cutting them out.

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?

Getting my work out into the world, marketing, is my biggest challenge. I’m trying to learn it, if not to learn to like it, and also looking for excellent people who believe fervently in the work to hire for various aspects of marketing.

I’ve never had writer’s block, and write extremely quickly when I am able to claim undistracted time. When I focus, I can write a whole first draft of a screenplay or novel in about a week or two. Of course there is always revising, but it’s usually not extensive. It’s the same way I wrote my articles as a journalist, or scripts for my documentaries. Some might call it a type of channeling. It’s very intuitive. I just get all the information I need as background and then let my imagination go. If I’m not sure of a detail, a date, a place, or a historical fact, I have a general idea and don’t stop my flow to look something up. I write from feeling and fill in the facts later.

Who are your writing inspirations?

As a child I read the Wrinkle in Time trilogy by Madeleine L’Engle repeatedly. Watching Ava DuVernay’s film adaptation a few months ago, I realized how much those books influenced me with the strong female character, the magic, and the triumph of love over darkness. I’ve read Lord of the Rings at least ten times since junior high. I read everything Ray Bradbury ever wrote. In sci-fi, I love Ursula Le Guin, Sharon Shinn, and Sheri Tepper, who have all written thought-provoking novels on issues like impending environmental destruction and the role of patriarchy in dominator cultures. I enjoy Barbara Kingsolver and have watched her evolve from the personal to the transpersonal. Her cli-fi novel Flight Behavior is profound and deeply moving, and in the end oddly hopeful.

After reading your bio and because this book features a cat, I just have to ask about the unique names of your cats. Can you share with the readers the names of your cats and the explanation of the names?

My eldest cat, the long-haired gray, is Dorjee. That’s a Tibetan name that means “thunderbolt of compassion.” People often hear his name as Georgie, and I thought a cat in 2050 post-plague Britain would probably prefer to be called a common name like Georgie. Georgie has a lot of Dorjee’s personality in him. My seal point Himalayan is called Yeshe Gyalpo, which means “Wisdom King” in Tibetan. He is very wise and meditates with me even more than the other two. The other night he sat next to me while we watched a spiritual webinar and purred loudly for two hours straight. My third, my mysterious foundling kitty Sammy, is a short-haired gray just like Georgie. When he appeared on Christmas Eve two years ago and no one ever came to claim him, I wondered for a moment if he really was Georgie. I took his appearance as a sign to publish the book through my company rather than going about it the old way of finding an agent, which could take a year or two, and a publisher, which could take years more. His full name is Samadhi Timewalker. Samadhi is the bliss that comes from an experience of non-duality in meditation (or life, ideally), and he really is a Timewalker.

What are three things people may not know about you?

My mother took me driving across the European part of what was then the Soviet Union when I was a teen-ager. I was a blues-rock singer and concert producer in Nairobi, Kenya, when I was 21. My alternate reality wish is to be a really good ice skater and a doctor who travels around the world, like Xander, doing good works.

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

I didn’t realize there was such a thing as cli-fi until I came across a story about it on NPR. I realized that Weather Menders, which until then I had thought of as soft sci-fi or even magical realism, definitely fit into this new genre of responding to the climate breakdown that is in our faces. I think the genre has rich possibilities, and hope that others will approach it from the point of view of seeking solutions, both practical and spiritual, rather than just trying to scare people with how bad things can get. We can read the news for that.

What historical time period do you gravitate towards the most with your personal reading?

Lately it seems to be World War II novels with courageous women, or girls, as the main characters. I just finished The Paris Seamstress. I read one last year called Goodnight London about an American woman journalist covering the Blitz. I’ve read The Book Thief and Sarah’s Key. I just bought The Lost Girls of Paris. I think I am drawn to that time period because my parents’ generation fought fascism and lived through great sacrifice and privation, and in my view we are seeing a worldwide resurgence of authoritarianism and in some cases outright fascism. I don’t like to use the term lightly, but I think we are in a pivotal time that is going to take great courage to face, let alone succeed collectively at triumphing over the forces that would tear us apart just at the time when the world needs to come together as one. Love is stronger than fear.

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

I love being in Nature, hiking, walking in snow, cross-country skiing though I don’t get to do it very often. I travel a lot to do healing work, spiritual counseling, and teaching, and also go on pilgrimages to sacred places like Stonehenge and Egypt. My visit to Findhorn Foundation in Scotland to do Experience Week was profound and joyous. I read constantly—novels, spiritual books, and science—and I enjoy good, imaginative, positive movies. I love being with my cats, and also enjoy walking with friends’ dogs, especially when I visit Alaska, which is my second home. I want to explore British Columbia further, as I feel drawn to Vancouver Island in particular. I enjoy the peace of meditation, alone or with spiritual friends, and love practicing yoga. I feel happy when I have done good healing work, hands-on or distant, that has benefited someone. I also enjoy organic gardening and being part of a community garden.

Lastly, what are you working on next?

A whole plot for a novel about climate change set in Alaska, “Cassandra’s Tears,” came to me the other night after a weird conversation I had with some climate change deniers on the airport parking shuttle when I got home from Alaska. I fumed on the way home, wondering what would open their hearts and minds. I was upset that one man blithely said, “I believe it’s real, I just don’t care.” So I started thinking, what if the Divine opened the hearts of people like this by giving them vivid dreams about the horrific reality that climate change already is for lots of the world’s population? A character named Cassie, short for Cassandra—the prophetess of Troy who was cursed to always be right and never be believed—came to me. A healer and architect who lives in Alaska, she falls into conversation with a couple as they are landing in Anchorage. She’s in tears because there is so little snow in the winter, and the couple, especially the man, are happily commenting on how nice and warm the winter is. Her blessing to them is to wish that God opens their hearts. They then begin to have shared dreams where they are rescuing their grandchildren from one disaster after another. A Native woman elder, Grace, helps them, and Cassie, make sense of it all. Grace is from the Gwich’in Nation, the Arctic people who have been fighting drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve for decades. Together they search for spiritual solutions to the climate crisis.

Weather Menders by Debra Denker

Publication Date: November 10, 2017
Catalyst Artistic Productions
Paperback & eBook; 298 Pages

Genre: Sci Fi/Climate Change Fiction/Time Travel

What if Time Travel were real? What if Time Travelers from 300 years in the future told you that there was a chance that you could prevent catastrophic climate change, plagues, and wars by going back in time to key Pivot Points and ethically altering the outcome of rigged elections? What if failure would result in the destruction of the biosphere? Would you go?

In post-plague 2050 Britain, palm trees tower over the rice paddies of Stonehenge. Tara MacFarlane, a weary 96-year-old anthropologist originally from Taos, New Mexico, longs only to finish out her life in peaceful Buddhist meditation, and rejoin the great love of her later years, the humanitarian Scottish-Afghan doctor Xander, in a future incarnation. Suddenly one stifling autumn day Tara, her great-granddaughter Leona, and Leona’s boyfriend Janus are faced with a trio of Time Travelers from a future alternate Timeline where humanity and the eco-system survived and thrived.

The fate of Earth’s biosphere falls squarely on the shoulders of Tara, Leona, Janus, and Tara’s small gray cat, Georgie, who shows a surprising aptitude for telepathy. Time is short to reverse catastrophe that will bleed through into the alternate Timeline, and the Time Travelers must first determine the ideal Pivot Points by reading Time Code vibrations off the great standing stones of Avebury. Unexpectedly joined by the brave and wise cat Georgie, the six plunge into the Time Circle of Stonehenge on their mission. Where and when will they go, and will they succeed in restoring the Earth and humanity to balance?

"Weather Menders is a pioneering cli-fi novel that combines science fiction with time travel and spiritual fantasy in a unique and captivating way. The message is clear: we must act soon and be woke. Oh, and there's a telepathic time-travelling cat!" -- Dan Bloom, editor, The Cli-Fi Report

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About the Author

Debra Denker has been writing stories since she learned to read. Although novels and poetry were her first loves, she turned her talent to journalism in the ‘70s and ‘80s, writing about Afghanistan and the refugee situation in Pakistan for National Geographic and many leading newspapers. She has specialized in social documentation utilizing journalism, photography, and film to convey the experiences of people in war torn areas, with the intention of stimulating the empathy necessary for humans to stop violence against people and planet.

Denker is the author of two published books, the non-fiction literary memoir Sisters on the Bridge of Fire: One Woman’s Journeys in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, and the novel War in the Land of Cain—a story of love, war, and moral choices set during the Soviet-Afghan war of the 1980’s.

Denker now writes for the award-winning conservation media website, Voices for Biodiversity, raising consciousness to help ward off the Sixth Great Extinction.

She currently lives in Santa Fe with her family of cats, Dorjee Purr-ba, Yeshe Gyalpo, and Samadhi Timewalker, but travels frequently in earthly space, and hopes to travel in time and galactic space.
The novel’s website is

Her personal blog explores a range of spiritual, social, and political issues and their intersection with sacred activism.

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Blog Tour Schedule

Friday, January 25
Tuesday, January 29
Wednesday, January 30
Feature at Broken Teepee

Friday, February 1
Guest Post at Maiden of the Pages

Monday, February 4
Tuesday, February 5
Interview at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, February 6
Thursday, February 7
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Friday, February 8
Feature at Cheryl's Book Nook

Monday, February 11
Tuesday, February 12
Thursday, February 14
Review at A Book Geek

Friday, February 15
Review at Umut Reviews
Feature at Coffee and Ink


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away two paperback copies of Weather Menders! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on February 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US/UK/CANADA.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Weather Menders

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