The following is an interview with biomimicry author Clyde Boyer regarding the recent release of his farming sci-fi fairy tale, Girl Out of Time. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Boyer about his creative experience in bringing the world and characters to life, the real-life inspiration for the story, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the recent release of Girl Out of Time! For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the premise of the story?
Clyde Boyer: Girl Out of Time is the farming sci-fi fairy tale you didn’t know you needed. It’s about a mysterious time traveler who has splintered time, and the young girl who helps save her. It’s also a story about our environment and everyday people making a difference. It’s about farming, and making, and finding your place in time. This is Anna’s story — a young girl adrift in time, anchored to no place since her parents’ death. And, its Mara’s story, too — a broken time traveler hiding from the mistakes of her past.
And, of course, there have to be aliens. Really cool aliens. And, funny friends, and wormholes, and alien landscapes, and awesome technology that is actually feasible like anti-gravity, quantum computing, sentient AI, and cloaking devices. And, while we’re at it…I’ve always wanted to be able to fly. That’s a big part of the story, too. Flying. Lots of flying.
BD: Given your work in Biomimicry and your childhood experiences growing up a farm, this story deftly weaves together many narratives that are intrinsic to your lived experience. How would you describe your creative process in bringing this story and characters to life?
CB: There were a number of influences that shape my creative process. I used Futures Thinking from the Institute for the Future to help envision a desirable future. If you want to imagine the future of something, like the future of farming which needs a wholesale redesign, look for signals and drivers today and imagine what farming will be like 10, 50, or 100 years from now. The goal is not to predict the future but to open a whole range of possibilities to help us create the future we want. I can’t emphasize this enough. For the young people of today to want to bring about change, they have to believe a desirable future is possible, and that urgent optimism, unfortunately, is in short supply.
Biomimicry was the other tool that greatly shaped my writing style. In biomimicry, we are trained to carry a nature journal wherever we go and to just sit and observe our surroundings — quietly and with no agenda. At first, you just see nature as one big thing, then slowly, as your field of perception begins to relax you start to see patterns, movement, varying shades of color, and life dancing all around you. It’s kind of magical. It’s also something I tried to capture in Girl Out of Time: a deep, reach, sense of place. A reconnection with nature. Like the great Hall of Fame baseball player Yogi Berra once said, “You can observe a lot by just watching.”
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Girl Out of Time will help to bring greater awareness to and conversation about the benefits of regenerative farming?
CB: I wanted to change young people’s perception of what farming is and the role it plays in not only feeding the planet but helping shape our relationship with the planet. Industrial farming represents an old extractive model that has broken our connection to nature. It destroys soil, ecosystems, and communities. Regenerative farming is a collection of approaches that help heal the land, and ultimately us.
In Girl Out of Time, the main character, Anna, ends up on her Uncle Jack’s regenerative research farm. I wanted this farm to be a combination of Edison’s Menlo Park and Hogwarts: a community of really bright, caring researchers and farmers steeped in the magic of place.
The story of how we broke our relationship with nature is fairly new. Many people don’t realize that what we know as farming today is a recent aberration. One of my fears is that we use technology like AI to compound the use of these aberrant farming practices. If we want to survive, we will need to marry forward-facing technology on the farm with a reconnection to indigenous practices (I could spend all day on this.) and a real reconnection with nature. Girl Out of Time is a story of how to marry these two world views.
BD: Do you foresee expanding the story into subsequent books or even into other entertainment mediums, if given the opportunity?
CB: I’m a child of movies, so I tend to write through a cinematic lens. I storyboard my scenes, sketch out characters, use beats in the storyline like film. Girl Out of Time was also greatly inspired by Hayao Miyazaki’s visions of nature, so I feel the novel is half-way there for pre-production. If anyone is interested in creating a graphic novel of Girl Out of Time or adapting for the screen, don’t hesitate to call. 😊
I’m also working on a sequel. Never let a good wormhole go to waste, my father always told me. The cast of characters will expand as future books look to introduce new kids, climate refugees, from around the world, all connected for a reason. Like I said, if we’re going to solve the big challenges like climate change, it’s going to take a lot of people doing a lot of different experiments. The big problems of our time do not recognize national boundaries. Nature will also have a much bigger role in the following stories, just as it will in all of our lives.
BD: For readers who are interested in getting more involved with environmental science and/or in making change in their community, are there any organizational websites that you would recommend to get them started?
CB: The problem of climate change can feel overwhelming, especially after this grueling summer where the whole planet is getting a glimpse of what an increased 1.5 degrees Celsius feels like. The best thing to do is arm yourself with information, get together with people who share a desire to make a change, and get out there. We’re not going to get to the other side of this crisis waiting for a savior, or a single technical innovation. It’s going to take lot of people doing lots of things. At the end of the day, all change is local.
The following includes some of my go-to resources:
Ask Nature (https://asknature.org) is such a fantastic resource and totally addictive, but not in a bad way like TikTok. Just type in How Does Nature “conserve water,” “protect from harm,” or “transform chemical energy,” and you get thousands of examples of how nature has already solved that problem. If anyone wants to inspire the next generation of problem solvers, life scientists, biologists, innovators, and entrepreneurs, the Ask Nature website is one of the best places to start.
Project Drawdown (https://drawdown.org) provides a clear roadmap to getting to a more equitable and healthy future. We have the solutions to address climate change today; they just haven’t been distributed equally. Project Drawdown lists and organizes inspiring initiatives and provides tangible ways we can all get involved now. Also, for the young person who wants to make an impact, Project Drawdown can really open up their eyes to the far-reaching world of jobs and opportunities available out there.
I’m also working with a great group of educators to create a series of educational resources that will be available on the Girl Out of Time website (https://girloutoftime.com). Sign up for the newsletter, and I’ll make sure to keep you informed of updates.
Some other great resources include:
- United Nations Youth in Action – https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/youth-in-action
- United States Environmental Protection Agency – https://www.epa.gov/climate-change/climate-change-resources-educators-and-students
- Climate Kids from NASA – https://climatekids.nasa.gov
- Savory Institute on Regenerative Farming (Yes, this served as inspiration for Uncle Jack.) – https://savory.global
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Girl Out of Time?
CB: You can go to Girl Out of Time companion website at https://girloutoftime.com for information and updates, latest podcasts and book signings, and where to buy the book. I’m also part of the International Literacy Association and am working with a group of educators to create curricular resources for teachers, students, and families that will be made available for free. I promise…no lame worksheets. If you’re a teacher who would like a virtual classroom visit, please go to the website, and let me know. I love talking with kids about climate fiction and urgent optimism and creating a radically better future.
I’d also love it if Girl Out of Time provided a safe space for parents, teachers, and kids to discuss climate change. That’s the great thing about fiction. It can introduce kids to complex topics like climate change in a way that is more compelling than through a purely scientific lens. It helps kids connect the dots between facts, or their actions and changes in the environment, or even between their own situation and those of characters in faraway places.