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Episode 35

Sentient plants, life forms that don't belong and the ecological philosophical aspects of the human race... join hosts Veronica and Darren for a brand new adventure in the celebration of Australian authors and their incredible stories! In episode 35 we have a jaw dropping interview with author M. K. Nadall, a whole heap of book previews, industry and book loving news, and discussions around what we value our own existence as. And it's fun!!!!


What Country do you write on?


When did you first admit that you were a writer?

Tricky  one that … I wrote (and illustrated) my first book when my kids were young and I’ve had scientific writings published, but I also do science and art, so I don’t call myself a writer!

What inspired you to write/this book/these books?

My background is in zoology and marine science and the idea for Return of the Yggdrasil was originally prompted by my studies of marine micro algae. For, despite being mere single-cell life forms, some species are highly mobile and essentially behave like animals. I think we human folk often tend to see plants as passive parts of the landscape; so to observe them moving in our human timescale was quite an eye-opener.

Later this led me to an interest in plant communication. There have been several excellent books on this topic in the last decade. Examples would be: The Songs of trees, The Hidden Life of Trees, and What a Plants knows, among others. I have included a bibliography at the end of the book.

Other interests of mine that converge in the novel are sustainable living, high-tech agriculture, food fashion and divisive social media. I would like to think these themes and others are handled in a humorous way rather than a hectoring tone. The scientific process as a creative force in the search for truth is another important message.

A final significant theme stems from the ancient Indian religion of Jainism – where the concept of ahimsa (non-violence) is applied to alllife forms – including plant life. The photosynthetic aliens of my novel have a natural affinity with Earth’s plants and with this philosophy.

In a spoiler alert: fans of a certain popular Australian sport might notice a recurring motif in the background!

Do you write for yourself or for a particular audience?

I guess I write for myself and for an audience that likes a certain amount of wit and humour in science fiction – Douglas Adams fans for instance.

Is there anything specifically Australian about your book/books?

Probably only likely to find a platypus researching protagonist in an Australian novel! Some of the locations, the idiom and the wildlife are specifically Australian. There are also some musical references unlikely to be known outside Australia,

Are there any secrets hidden in your writing?

Yeah, just a bit of fun:  the majority of the characters, especially the minor ones, have names taken from past Australian rules footballers.

Is there a message in your book/books/writing? 

That sometimes stuff is complicated and yelling T-shirt slogans at each other doesn’t fix anything. And that science is important.

What’s the best response you’ve ever had to your writing?

I put a couple of humorous references to Sir David Attenborough in the story and I sent him the novel and asked if he minded. He actually sent me a hand written note to say he didn’t – but thanks for asking.

How much research is involved in your writing? 

Often too much – I read a whole book about the history of sugar just to write a few hundred words on its role in the world.

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Click below to learn more about this author's spectacular literary work!

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