Interview with Environmental Author Sonia Faruqi

I’m always happy to find another author who uses the magic of words and the potentially powerful imagery inherent in them to bring awareness of environmental issues, animal rights and nature conservation to the world.

Sonia Faruqi is one such author, having written two books, both of which she says happened accidentally!

I interviewed Sonia in August 2018 about her work – you can view the video of this interview below.


Project Animal Farm, her first book, is a critically-acclaimed investigation into intensive factory farming. While volunteering at an organic dairy farm, in what Sonia imagined was going to be a short, idyllic holiday between jobs, she discovered that even organic farms treat their animals as commodities and that the peaceful, grass-fed existence we imagine for dairy cows is nothing close to the truth.

This experience led her on an unquenchable thirst for knowledge in eight countries around the world – to learn about how animals are treated in various types of farms around the world, why there isn’t greater transparency about the terrifying cruelty so often built into the intensive farming system, and what it might take to solve the unsustainable global crisis known as ‘modern farming’ for meat, dairy and eggs.

Peter Singer, author of Animal Liberation, and often referred to as the ‘founder of the modern animal rights movement’, had this to say: “Let Sonia Faruqi take you on her courageous personal journey of discovery. I thought I already knew everything there is to know about modern animal production, but I learned many new things from this very readable book, and you will, too.

I like Sonia’s choice of title for this documentary book, which cleverly alludes to George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm, about farm animals who symbolise proleteriat workers, and who don’t realise they are being controlled by sinister forces larger than themselves.

Sonia has a rare gift for description – the farm and slaughterhouse workers, managers and farmers she met along the way (she says they’re true to life except for their names which she’s changed for privacy) jump off the pages like characters you wouldn’t be surprised to find in a dystopian novel.

She includes research and statistics about the laws, policies and practices around factory farming, and this book, which could be emotionally challenging for some readers in places (I burst into tears when she described the slaughterhouse scenes), should, in my opinion, be compulsory reading for everyone aged 15 or over.

I feel very strongly that if more people know the truth about the often deceptive, corrupt and heartless world of factory farming, then many more consumers would shun meat, dairy and eggs, and farm animals might be able to live their lives in peace, just as they have a natural right to do.


The Oyster Thief by Sonia Faruqi

Sonia’s second book, The Oyster Thief, described as “an underwater odyssey”, is an extraordinary novel about merpeople in the Atlantic Ocean. In the richly and accurately-researched undersea environment, Sonia immerses herself and her readers in a story about love, betrayal and destruction of the ocean.

Through the eyes of the merpeople, many fearful of humans through past experiences, we learn about real and current environmental issues affecting the Earth’s oceans, including undersea mining for minerals and oil, and how coral reefs, the lifeblood of the oceans, are suffering from human activities.

Sonia says she sat down to write The Oyster Thief one cold, January morning, when she felt frustrated that she couldn’t escape to a warmer place. So she began creating an imaginary world, which turned into a novel!

Painstakingly researched, and informed by Sonia’s experiences including diving with sharks, the story introduces you to the myriad of different types of corals and undersea creatures which inhabit the Atlantic Ocean, as we follow Coralline, a mermaid, and Izar, a human on a quest for a life-saving elixir.

You can watch the video interview with Sonia below.

Catch up with her at her website SoniaFaruqi.com or on social media: TwitterFacebook and Instagram.


Kathryn Rose Newey is an author of unique novels with environmental themes, for young adults, teens and children. In fact, her books are suitable for anyone who cares about animals and the planet.

Her books include: The Zoo Animals’ Faraway Dream (a story to save caged animals), Animals in the Forest: The Day Terrible Things Came (a story to save the Earth), and Ilnoblet Elmer and the Alien Water Thieves (fun and educational science fiction). Her next book will be a story to save trees.

Available from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, other Amazon websites and major bookstore websites worldwide.  Find out more


Original 1945 cover of Animal Farm by George Orwell: By Unknown author (-) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


‘Animals in the Forest’ Review: Thought Provoking and an Absolute Pleasure to Read

Animals in the Forest: The Day Terrible Things Came by Kathryn Rose NeweyThe Nature Conservation novel aimed at middle grade children, teens and young adults, ‘Animals in the Forest: The Day Terrible Things Came‘, was recently reviewed by Education Otherwise, a major home education organisation in the UK. Kerri, the EO book reviewer, wrote:

‘Animals in the Forest’ is an absolute pleasure to read due to the superb descriptive detail and wide ranging vocabulary…It’s a really lovely and thought provoking addition for your child’s reading and English curriculum which I’m sure all children will enjoy and be inspired by.

She went on to say: “This is a beautifully illustrated,…delightfully written,…environmentally themed animal story with free supplementary worksheets,…[which] are the most interesting and varied I have come across.” [see the full review text below]

EducationOtherwise.org is a major home education / home schooling organisation in the UK, dedicated to providing “information and resources for home educating families and those considering home education for the first time, including guidance on home education and the law, SEN and disabilities; downloadable fact sheets covering many aspects of HE; and links to local HE groups across the UK.” They publish a newsletter for members a few times a year.


Here is EO’s full review of ‘Animals in the Forest: The Day Terrible Things Came’ and the matching WonderWorksheets [spoiler alert!]:

“This is a beautifully illustrated, environmentally themed animal story with free supplementary worksheets… The story is set in a local forest where Dakota the Deer and her animal friends live until they are disturbed by machinery that starts destroying the forest to build new houses. The 9 chapters describe events from the animals’ point of view, describing their initial curiosity to the fear and then really that they would be forced to leave their homes. 

This text is an absolute pleasure to read due to the superb descriptive detail and wide ranging vocabulary, but also as it is delightfully written in ‘proper English’. The characters’ personalities come to life in each chapter as they try to make sense of what is going on, to the point that you desperately hope for a happy ending, which sadly, and realistically, there is not.

At the end of the book there is an Epilogue that provides information on the environmental reasons for each character’s name, some other related environmental issues for further thought, and a section entitled ‘What you can do to help?’ to protect the environment.

The book is a wonderful read on its own, but there is also a pack of WonderWorksheets for English Literacy with lots of questions, discussion ideas, writing tasks and discussion topics. Aimed for upper primary, these worksheets provide a very interesting and comprehensive set of exercises covering a wide range of activities including researching and designing your own non-fiction booklet about crows, drawing an impression of a worm’s-eye view of the animals’ discussion, writing stories from a given first line, and many more.

The worksheets are the most interesting and varied I have come across to date and show that the author has put a lot of thought and detail into each one.

‘Animals in the Forest’ is a really lovely, thought provoking addition to your child’s reading and English curriculum which I am sure all children will enjoy and be inspired by.” ~ from EO Newsletter, Spring 2018


Download a printable version of EO’s full review with weblinks here.

Animals in the Forest: The Day Terrible Things Came’ is a unique nature conservation tale, told from the point of view of forest animals. They know that humans do things they don’t always understand and like, but one day, the humans start something more destructive…

The book honours environmental activists, defenders and indigenous tribes and includes info and websites to research these issues further.

Can one story save the Earth? It’s up to you…


Paperback, e-book & audiobook available from: Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com  

Plus, there are two complementary sets of WonderWorksheets, exploring lots of literacy and environmental themes in the book. 


Paperbacks, e-books and audiobooks are available from most Amazon websites and major online bookstores internationally, such as Barnes & NobleBooktopiaFoylesWaterstonesBlackwells, etc.

Note: the Kindle reader app can be downloaded for reading Kindle e-books on any device (such as PC, Mac, iOS or Android).


 

New Animal Rights Story for Teens to be Published Soon

UPDATE June 2018: ‘The Zoo Animals’ Faraway Dream‘ has been published! Find out more here.

If you or your kids are into reading about the natural environment, green issues, ecology, animals or saving the planet, then my next book, ‘The Zoo Animals’ Faraway Dream‘ is for you!

It’s a story about living behind bars, told from the perspective of zoo animals. Their experiences and antics are both amusing and tragic. Many of the zoo animals believe life will always be the same, but one day a travelling animal appears. This shocks and confuses them, and his presence seems to ignite a ‘faraway dream’ in the animals’ minds – is it just wishful thinking? Arguments abound, so some animals decide it’s finally time to take action…

This is a story to save caged animals. Information and website links about confined animals in zoos, farms, labs, crates and tanks are included at the back of the book, with suggestions on how readers can help to solve this global tragedy.

Sonia Faruqi, author of Project Animal Farm‘ (an award-winning investigation of the truth behind factory farming), has this to say:

“’The Zoo Animals’ Faraway Dream’ is a touching, beautifully written story with a heart-warming cast of zoo characters. The story makes you laugh and sigh, while also urging you to stop and think about the plight of many zoo animals in our world.

The Zoo Animals’ Faraway Dream‘ is suitable for all ages, young and old (little ones will need an adult to read it to them), but particularly those aged 9-14 years. It will be available in paperback and e-book from Amazon, other online retailer websites, and bookstores near you. Watch this space!

 

Get your paperback or e-book from:

Amazon.co.uk   Amazon.com 

Waterstones.com  BarnesandNoble.com

Paperbacks and e-books are available from most Amazon websites and major online bookstores internationally, such as Barnes & Noble, Booktopia, Foyles, Waterstones, Blackwells, etc.

Note: the Kindle reader app can be downloaded for reading Kindle e-books on any device (such as PC, Mac, iOS or Android).


 

Radio Interview: Nature Conservation Novel ‘Animals in the Forest’

BBC 3 Counties Radio logoNick Coffer interviewed me live on BBC Three Counties Radio about my nature conservation / environmental fiction book ‘Animals in the Forest: The Day Terrible Things Came‘ early in January 2018. Listen to the podcast of the interview here, or watch it now:


Here’s some more information about the ‘Nature Conservation Fiction’ genre:

What exactly is ‘nature conservation fiction’ or ‘environmental fiction’?

It’s a relatively unexplored genre of fiction, which encompasses anything to do with nature, the natural environment, nature conservation, green issues, and/or wildlife and animal rights, within a story.

Why is ‘environmental fiction’ important?

Books and stories, whether they are paperbacks, e-books, audiobooks, braille books or picture books, are a wonderful way to engage young readers into new worlds.

Usually environmental fiction and nature conservation stories have significant elements which are true to life, for example, the descriptions of wild animals, or the conservation/green issues that real or fictional characters may grapple with.

The authors, including me, usually want to make readers aware that animals and the natural environment are struggling from human actions. We feel that more than ever, now’s the time that everyone needs to become aware, change their habits and take action to save mother Earth.

So how does it work in a book?

Although the story itself, the characters and perhaps even the setting may be fiction, there will be parts of the story which will be realistic and accurate. Environmental stories successfully weave non-fiction into fiction.

Environmental fiction books are therefore educational and inspirational in terms of the information and motivation they give readers. Hopefully readers will want to take further steps by researching these important issues more and then choosing positive actions based on their new knowledge.

Read more about why I feel compelled to write in the ‘Environmental Educational Fiction’ genre here.


Animals in the Forest: The Day Terrible Things Came‘ is available in paperback, audiobook or e-book from:

Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com 

Available in audiobook from:

Audible.co.uk or Audible.com 


Paperbacks, audiobooks and e-books are available from most Amazon websites and major online bookstores internationally, such as Barnes & Noble, Booktopia, Foyles, Waterstones, Blackwells, etc.

Note: the Kindle reader app can be downloaded for reading Kindle e-books on any device (such as PC, Mac, iOS or Android).


 

Animals in the Forest – Audiobook Available Soon!

UPDATE February 2018: The audiobook is now ready! Get it from:

 Audible.co.uk or Audible.com 


Thought I’d give you a head’s up – Animals in the Forest: The Day Terrible Things Came (already available as a paperback and e-book) is going to be made into an audiobook.

Once created, it will be available from Amazon, Audible and iTunes.

I’ve chosen an English native speaker to read the manuscript, in keeping with the story which is set in an English/European forest. The narrator and all the animal characters are holed up in her recording studio, reading the story aloud and creating those audio files!

I’m very proud and excited that this book will also be offered as an audiobook, so that those who are unable to access the written versions will still be able to hear the story as well as the environmental themes and educational content embedded in the story.

In the meantime, get your paperback or e-book from:

 Amazon.co.uk     Amazon.com 


UPDATE February 2018: The audiobook is now ready! Get it from:

 Audible.co.uk or Audible.com 


Paperbacks, audiobooks and e-books are available from most Amazon websites and major online bookstores internationally, such as Barnes & Noble, Booktopia, Foyles, Waterstones, Blackwells, etc.

Note: the Kindle reader app can be downloaded for reading Kindle e-books on any device (such as PC, Mac, iOS or Android).