Unveiling the Literary Journey of David Guenette

Delving into the Craft of Climate Fiction,  Technology, and Environmental Advocacy 

David Guenette, a versatile author, discusses his journey in climate fiction, blending technology and environmentalism. His latest work, ‘Kill Well’ initiates The Steep Climes Quartet, offering engaging narratives on climate challenges.

David Guenette is not merely an author; he is a multifaceted craftsman of words whose journey through the realms of publishing, digital technology, and environmental activism has culminated in a unique and resonant voice within the climate fiction genre. With the recent release of Kill Well, the inaugural instalment of his ambitious The Steep Climes Quartet, Guenette invites readers to engage with our planet’s precarious future through a narrative lens that is as compelling as it is conscientious.

Guenette’s rich background as a developmental and acquisitions editor, journalist, and consultant in electronic publishing has undoubtedly shaped his narrative approach, infusing his writing with an informed perspective on the technological and environmental challenges facing our society. His latest literary endeavour reflects a deep-seated commitment to these issues, drawing from his hands-on experience in retrofitting his own home in Berkshire County and founding Retrosheath—a start-up aimed at making energy efficiency more accessible.

His intellectual curiosity is not confined to the written word; it spills over into the tactile world of assemblage sculptures and the digital realm where he consults for Averosa Records. Yet, it’s in his vegetable garden where one might argue that the seeds of his stories take root, nurtured by the same hands that pen them.

Guenette’s literary tastes are as eclectic as his professional pursuits, with an admiration for authors who weave intricate narratives with a fast pace and compelling characters—qualities he aspires to emulate in his work. He holds a special reverence for the classics, returning to Moby Dick with the same regularity as one might visit an old friend, each encounter revealing new layers of complexity within Melville’s masterpiece.

His choice of reading material while working on his own books—namely non-fiction on climate change and the works of contemporary climate fiction authors—reveals a dedication to authenticity and depth in his storytelling. Guenette’s engagement with literature is a testament to his belief that interesting writing must serve an interesting story, buoyed by characters of substance.

As readers eagerly anticipate Dear Josephine, the second book in The Steep Climes Quartet set for release in Spring 2024, they can expect a story that not only entertains but also enlightens—a reflection of Guenette’s own journey through literature and life, always striving to get better at the craft he so dearly loves.

What’s the last great book you read?

Well, this isn’t the most recent book that I’ve read, but a recent one and a terrific one: Weather, by Jenny Of fill, published by Vintage in 2021. I read a lot of climate fiction, not surprisingly, since I’m in the midst of a four-book series of climate fiction, The Steep Climes Quartet, with the first book, Kill Well, published in August 2023 and the second book, Dear Josephine, coming out in Spring 2024. One of the reasons I love Weather is that Of fill manages to place climate change within the life of the beautifully drawn main character, and this helps make climate change really present in the book, even if not the object focus of the book. 

What’s your favourite book no one else has heard of?

Well, not being omniscient, I can’t really know, but I found myself vibrating between Raymond Chandler and William Gibson, enjoying the strong similarities between these writers: fast pace of phrase and line, strong and compelling main and minor characters, odd but effective and entertaining descriptions and metaphors. For me, the opening of Gibson’s first novel, Neuromancer, remains a go-back-to reminder of great writing. 

Are there any classic novels that you only recently read for the first time?

As an English Major, I’ve read most of the classic English and American literature, but, as pretentious as this sounds, I go back to Melville’s Moby Dick every few years and keep finding new things about that book that delight me. I argue that Moby Dick is an early example of meta-fiction, and far too underappreciated as such.

You’re organizing a party. Which two authors, dead or alive, do you invite?

Well, the dead ones won’t be much fun and there’s the legal issue of disinterment, too. I’d guess William Gibson would be high on this list, and Kim Stanley Robinson, too, because of his climate change fiction. 

Which writers — working today do you admire most?

If you’ll exclude the segue, Kim Stanley Robinson, and especially his novel Ministry for the Future, ranks high on my list, because he’s tackling an existential topic, but brings great research and strong thinking to the topic. If you only read one climate fiction work, Ministry for the Future is a great choice.

Who are your favourite writers? Are there any who aren’t as widely known as they should be, whom you’d recommend in particular?

Rudolph Wurlitzer’s Quake is exceptional, in its economy, but seems these days largely forgotten; J. Underwood is a recent author and has written a delightful book of connected climate change short stories in The Bell Jar; qntm (yes, that’s the writer’s pseudonym) is fascinating, and especially his weird and wonderful novel There is No Antimemetics Division; Tom Perrotta’s early and very funny novel The Wishbones deserves more attention; Cory Doctorow, who writes entertaining and thought provoking fiction and a lot of on-target critical non-fiction about the Internet, is a recent addiction. Hopscotch, by Julio Cortazar remains high on my list, as does James Cummings’ The Whole Truth, a small book of sestinas based on Perry Mason and a formal and imaginative tour de force, and that this is missing from my bookshelves only shows you my tendency to loan out books I love.

What do you read when you’re working on a book? And what kind of reading do you avoid while writing?

Waiting for my editor to finish up her second pass on my The Steep Climes Quartet book Dear Josephine, I read through William Gibson’s mid-career The Bridge Trilogy, and every time I read Gibson I find myself wondering if I have any business writing! When I’m actively writing my series, I tend to read a lot of non-fiction climate change books and even more Medium and Substack writers on the subject.

What moves you most in a work of literature?

Interesting writing in the service of an interesting story, plus there better be some substance to the characters.

What genres do you especially enjoy reading? 

Pulp, bother the early twentieth Century masters (Chandler, Cain, Hines) and cyberpink (Gibson, early Neal Stephenson); I’m a science fiction fan, generally, but historical fiction, especially noir-oriented, is another genre read (Alan Furst, Phillip Kerr, J. Robert Janes). 

What kind of reader were you as a child? 

Voracious and perhaps dangerously precocious. My older brother would by those 25 and 35 cent science fiction paperbacks, and I would read these after he was done, and sometimes finish two books in a day. I read William Burrough’s Naked Lunch the summer after 6th grade, and who knows what affect that had on me! 

Have you ever changed your opinion of a book based on information about the author, or anything else?

Not that I can remember.

If you could meet any writer, dead or alive, who would it be? And what would you want to know?

There are any number of writers from whom I’d love a pat on the head and some words of encouragement to the effect that I’m not a bad writer, which is why I’m not actively hoping to meet such writers. 

Which writer would you want to write your life story?

I’m not inclined to have my life as the topic of a book, whoever the writer might be, and for that you can thank me. 

What books do you find yourself returning to again and again?

There are several such books already indicated earlier, but the range is wide, from William Gibson’s Neuromancer to Melville’s Moby Dick. 

What books are you embarrassed not to have read yet?

I’m easily embarrassed, so this answer would take too much time and space to answer.

What do you plan to read next?

My current Cory Doctorow addiction suggests that the next book will be The Lost Cause. Of course, I have a number of books—mainly non-fiction—that I’m going back to every now and again, including The Petroleum Papers, by Geoff Dembicki and The Triumph of Doubt, by David Michaels. The book on my bedstand that is next in the queue is A Friend of the Earth, by T. C. Boyle, following up on a recommendation of a friend.

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