How I Use Storytelling to Build Environmental Awareness
As a storyteller, I believe that tales possess an uncanny ability to stir the soul and inspire within us the drive to make positive changes in our lives. I find this to be particularly true when it comes to environmental issues, something I’ve always been passionate about — and especially now, as conservation efforts are more critical than ever before. In my fantasy books, I strive to weave in environmental themes that encourage readers to think about the world around them and their role in preserving it.
On this Earth Day, I want to reflect on the messages behind my writing and the importance of building environmental awareness through storytelling.
From Inspiration to Action
Growing up in Colorado, I was fortunate to be surrounded by stunning natural beauty. The snow-capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains and the shimmering blue waters of the many lakes and rivers never failed to remind me of nature’s incredible power and the majesty of the natural world. This appreciation for nature ultimately inspired me to become a conservationist and author.
In my books, I try to capture the same sense of awe and reverence that I felt as a child exploring the mountains and forests of Colorado. But I also want to do more than just inspire a sense of wonder — I want to challenge readers to think about their impact on the world and consider how they can help protect it.
After all, nature is magical! Think about it: The seed that sprouts after a long winter grows into a sapling and eventually into a majestic tree with hundreds or thousands more seeds. That’s magic. The marvelous light that sparkles on the wings of a Morpho butterfly. The love that blossoms between two people. The incredible power of human minds and the sheer diversity of life that has evolved on our planet. The indescribably complex patterns and connections that form our universe. All this immense magic surrounds us every day, all the time, in our lives.
We all know our planet is in trouble, largely due to human activity. We have problems with our climate, with deforestation, with the oceans, and with our fellow creatures. These issues have spiraled into two colossal crises: One is the climate change crisis, and we need to get our arms around that and be more responsible about how we use energy and where we save energy. And then the biodiversity crisis, where way too many species, too many of our fellow creatures on our home planet, are in trouble and could go extinct forever.
So how do we encourage others to think about that, to increase environmental awareness? We need to tell better stories about the Earth and our place in it.
Raising Environmental Awareness Through Fantasy Stories
There are many different ways to weave environmental themes into fantasy literature. One of the ways I do this is by creating fantastical worlds that intimately connect to the natural world. In The Merlin Saga, for example, the magical isle of Fincayra is a place of incredible natural beauty, where the forests are alive with magical creatures and the seas are teeming with life. But this beauty is also fragile, and the forces of darkness threaten to destroy it. Through my characters’ struggles, I convey the message that we have a responsibility to protect the natural world, even when it means standing up to powerful forces.
In my book, The Ancient One, I take a slightly different approach. The story takes place in Oregon, where a young girl named Kate has her plans disrupted by the discovery of a grove of giant redwood trees in nearby Lost Crater. Caught up in the fight to protect the forest from loggers, Kate finds herself thrown back in time five hundred years, where she must confront the evil creature Gashra, who seeks to destroy the same forest. Through her extraordinary journey, Kate discovers that all living things connect in ways she never expected. I hope Kate’s adventures show readers that even the most unlikely heroes can make a difference when they are motivated by a deep respect for the natural world.
Heartlight explores the idea of interconnectedness, showing how the actions of one individual can have a profound impact on the world around them. Through the characters’ interactions with the natural world, I try to convey the message that we are all part of a larger ecosystem — and that our choices have real-world consequences.
Environmental Awareness as a Responsibility
I believe that it is my responsibility as a storyteller to use my voice — my words — to raise awareness about the importance of taking care of this home planet of ours. But I also believe it is vital to do so in a way that is engaging and entertaining for readers. After all, the best stories are the ones that stick with us long after we’ve finished reading them.
I am still optimistic about our wonderful planet because of my faith in human ingenuity and imagination, and also in young people. Young people really get this. They understand that the peril we are in is human-created — and that solutions can also be human-created. Plus, I have an enduring faith in the resilience of nature. If we can just give nature enough space, just give her room, she can adapt.
As we celebrate Earth Day, I urge readers to take a moment to reflect on the beauty and wonder of our environment. But I also encourage you to consider your own impact on the environment and to think about the ways in which you can help protect it. Whether it’s reducing your carbon footprint, supporting conservation efforts, or simply taking the time to appreciate the natural world around you, there are many small steps that we can all take to make a difference.