Recently, I blogged about David Millar’s new cli-fi comic novel titled “The Ministry for Ignoring Climate Change” on my blog platform here.
Today I want to add some notes from an interview I did with David.
So I asked David a few questions via email and this is some of what he told me:
“I’m quite flattered by your belief that Netflix or TV might be interested in this, although I can imagine it might work quite well, now you mention it. However I have no contacts in that world at all, and no clue where to start. I had tried sending an earlier version of the book to literary agents in the UK with zero success (but they take very few new authors), and frankly I think it would be almost impossible to get the attention of film agents unless it had first proven a success as a book. So if you have any contacts in that world I’m definitely open to introductions and suggestions!”
I replied: “I do have some contacts in that world and I will ask around.”
My first question was:
Your humor writing and dialogues are superb. Where does your humor DNA come from? Any anecdotes?
DAVID MILLAR: ”I don’t have any comedians in my family tree, but being English I was brought up on a national diet of dry humor. ‘Yes Minster’ and ‘Fawlty Towers’ were particular favorites. So when I decided to write a story that explored the reasons governments are clearly so reluctant to take the action needed to combat climate change, the techniques of obfuscation, delay and diversion made famous by ‘Yes Minister’ was an obvious plot choice.”
Your novel would make a great comic TV series for Netflix or Hulu. A la BBC series ”YES MINISTER”. Any nibbles from TV producers yet? Do you have an agent reaching out to them yet?
DAVID: “I agree the story might make good TV, but I don’t have an agent. I think it will need to succeed as a novel first before one would be interested.”
Has anyone at BBC heard that Eddington and Hawthorne are surnames of two of your main characters paying respect to to the UK actors who played Jim Hacker and Sir Humphries in ”YES MINISTER”?
DAVID: No. I don’t think they’d mind, though! I’d hoped that people would recognize the style of ‘Yes Minster’, so using those two names was intended as a subtle signal to the reader that they were right.
What kind of publicity and PR are you doing for the book.? In Canada? And outside Canada in UK and Australia and USA? Any interest yet in translations to French or German?
DAVID: Generating any kind of awareness for an unknown author either self-published or with a small publisher is notoriously difficult. I’ve read that less than one per cent of new authors ever succeed in attracting an agent. Picking a title with the words ‘climate change’ in it was one deliberate choice to improve my chances of readers finding the book. Otherwise my publicity so far has just been through social media, which is by its nature pretty international, although I have focused on the UK and on Canada, where the story is set and I am based. My last book, a travelogue about Dubai, ended up as the bestseller on Amazon about Dubai for two years, but it took a year to get there, so I suspect it will take a while to build awareness of ‘The Ministry’ And no, there has been no interest in translations yet, I think it needs to succeed in English first.
Any personal statement you want to add, in terms of what motivated, inspired you to write the book? Who are your favorite humorists worldwide? Samuel Marchbanks? Kurt Vonnegut? Ian McEwan? Margaret Atwood?
DAVID: I believe climate change is going to be the dominant issue that societies face for the rest of my life and I think more needs to be done if we are to avoid its worst effects. I happen to understand the science quite well because I studied atmospheric chemistry and polar climate for my PhD (a long time ago), and I think the process of cutting carbon emissions is not as straightforward as most people realize. The response by all governments has also been slow and bureaucratic and we are clearly not going to meet the reduction targets that countries have signed up to. So I wanted to write about the contradictions and pitfalls that clearly exist yet which don’t get talked about much — but to do so in an accessible way that people will actually read it also has to be done with humor. Hence my attempt to write a satire with a bureaucratic government department which ends up in conflict with a community which is actually doing something constructive.
As for favorite humorists, I don’t really have any favorite authors. It might sound strange but I actually prefer reading biographies — although right now I am reading the diary of Michael Palin, one of the members of Monty Python, another great British comedy series.