Some novels start with a character or a location. This novel was built around conflict: a scientist who believes the best way to deal with rising sea levels is to relocate away from coastlines, and an innkeeper who can’t imagine living anywhere else.
Some novels are inspired by the author’s life. This novel inspired and changed my life. As I did research on climate change and rising sea levels, I found out the conflict between Melodie and Ana is a conflict many of us live with or will be faced with in coming years.
The IPCC special report on global warming that came out in October proposes measures to keep global warming to 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels. We’re up about 1ºC now, which is already causing extreme weather, higher sea levels, and melting of the Arctic sea ice, among other things. The measures the IPCC report is recommending are not going to cool off the planet. That will take centuries. The whole purpose if to limit damages. Sea levels will continue to rise—although they would rise 10 centimeters higher by 2100 with a 2 ºC increase—and many coastlines will be flooded.
I used to dream of owning a house by the sea. I’m not the only one, right? Can you imagine? Walking on the beach every day and going to sleep with the sound of the waves and sea air coming through an open window. It sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? After doing research for this novel, however, I’d rather buy a house with a view on the sea on top of a high hill, safe from storm surges and flooding. That made me sad at first. But then I started thinking like Ana in Rising Above. Moving away from the sea is sad, perhaps, but it’s also the right thing to do. It’s giving it the respect we should have given it from the very beginning. It’s learning to love it from a distance, to appreciate its power and beauty without trying to make it ours. That’s how this novel changed my life on a personal level. It might not change yours, but I hope it helps you see things in a different way.
That said, Rising Above is about love before anything else. Love between two women with different views, love for the sea, and love for our planet.