Jan 20 • 44M

On writing an ambitious and terrifyingly realistic novel about climate change

A conversation with author Stephen Markley about his new book, "The Deluge."

Open in playerListen on);
Volts is a podcast about leaving fossil fuels behind. I've been reporting on and explaining clean-energy topics for almost 20 years, and I love talking to politicians, analysts, innovators, and activists about the latest progress in the world's most important fight. (Volts is entirely subscriber-supported. Sign up!)
Episode details

In 2018, author Stephen Markley won near-universal critical praise with his debut novel Ohio, a tight set piece that takes place over the course of a single night, as four high school classmates reunite at a diner in their northeastern Ohio hometown.


“Four characters, one night” is pretty much the opposite of Markley’s sprawling new novel The Deluge, which tracks dozens of characters over the course of decades, from the 2010s out past 2040, everyone from climate activists to scientists to political operatives, as they suffer the effects of climate change (there are some quasi-biblical disasters) and struggle to marshal the political will to address it.

The novel crucially involves climate policy, reactionary backlashes, and direct activism, among other topics of great interest to the Volts audience.

On Thursday January 12th at Seattle’s Third Place Books, I was lucky enough to talk to Markley about the genesis of the novel, some of its major themes, and the difficulties he faced in writing it.

Stephen Markley, darkly.
Stephen Markley, darkly.

The crew at Third Place was kind enough to record the event (thanks Spencer!), so I'm happy to bring it to you as an episode of Volts. Please enjoy, and while you're at it, do the smart thing and buy copies of The Deluge for all the readers in your life.

Stephen Markley, presumably making a good point.
Stephen Markley, presumably making a good point.