Lomira author Jonah Sheffield talks about climate breakdown and war

Schoenberg. Jonah Sheffield (43 years old) was born Frederic Bolbeck in Schöneberg on the Baltic Sea. Today she lives between Düsseldorf and Cologne on the Rhine and, under her stage name, is Germany’s most successful self-published science fiction author. She writes on topics such as climate breakdown, war, and environmental degradation. In an interview, she explains why she is worried about the apple tree in her vacation home in Steckendorf, why she believes there is no alternative to life beyond Earth and why climate change cannot wait any longer.

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Mrs. Sheffield, how excited are you in your old town Schöneberg?

Fortunately not as much as in my books (laughs). No, seriously: I spent my childhood in Schöneberg and studied in Kiel. These are places where I associate many wonderful memories. Of course there have been exciting moments in the past when I was testing my limits. But in general, Probstei in particular is a place of peace and harmony for me. So I don’t come here for the excitement, but for my love of the area and the people.

Her books address critical social issues such as climate breakdown, war, refugee waves, and government intrigue. How calm is the Baltic Sea your haven?

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Indeed, in my books I deal with the great questions of humanity: How will our future evolve? Can we solve our problems like climate change or overpopulation and what are the consequences that we have to calculate? Of course I want to relax on the Baltic Sea. But unfortunately I encountered these issues here as well. Whether it is the effects of the pandemic on the local economy, the increase in plastic pollution of the sea, or the consequences of climate change.

Jonah Sheffield: ‘There is nowhere we can hide from global problems – not even in the Baltic Sea’

Give an example…

In concrete terms, I’m currently writing the third volume of Transform on the porch of our Stakendorf vacation home. I’m sitting under an apple tree in which all the apples are dropping because the soil is very dry. Time and time again, such experiences remind me that we cannot hide from global problems anywhere – not even in the calm Baltic Sea.

Tell us about your favorite place in Probstei?

I don’t have a favorite place. There are different places for different needs. I love being on the Schönberger Strand and listening to the seagulls and the waves. Then I feel like I’m back in my childhood. There’s also something meditative about lying in the warm sand that makes me forget the stresses of everyday life. At least for now. But I also love the Poulsen bathing area on Lake Selinter. It is heavenly to let your gaze wander over the clear water. My current favorite place is the balcony of our holiday home, with my family.

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Did you have any idea how awesome your dystopian themes were when you published the first volume of your Lumera trilogy, “Survive,” in 2019?

To be honest, I pretty much shocked myself that I was right about my fairy tales. With the first release in 2019, neither the pandemic nor the vaccination campaign and the conspiracy theories associated with it have emerged in any way. I almost felt as if the world had used my book as a blueprint for further development. Although that would not be desirable. Because if I am correct in my other predictions about the development of the global climate, then in 2044 we will have to fight for the few places on one of the spaceships. Then large parts of the Earth will be uninhabitable and we will have to flee to the stars to save at least a small part of humanity. So I hope I’m wrong.

To what extent do you believe in life outside our land?

There is no substitute for the fact that we as human beings have to develop further and colonize other planets. I am convinced that this will happen. I just don’t dare predict how long visionaries like Elon Musk will need to implement their plans. But I am also convinced that there is life beyond Earth. It can be predicted based on probability calculations alone. I don’t know if we’ll ever meet these beings. At least in Lumera, it happens very quickly.

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Jonah Sheffield: “My vision for the future is based on the facts of scientists”

In her first book, Life on Earth was a nightmare between disease, food shortages, and the end of the world. Do you sometimes have concerns about the future?

I chose this topic for my first book because these thoughts are on my mind. I thought a lot about whether it was reasonable to bring children into this world. This sounds pretty harsh, but I actually had these thoughts. To research my books, I talked to several scientists at famous research institutes and developed my vision for the future based on their predictions. Unfortunately, the fact that they are so terrifying is not due, admittedly, to my vigorous imagination, but to the facts if we as humankind cannot stop climate change. I only picked up a little cadence for my books, although I’m not sure if I’m wrong about that when I look at the current weather conditions. It is also a fact that we as the Federal Republic of Germany – at least for now – are not regularly achieving the climate goals we set for ourselves. Not to mention the United States and China, which have not stopped overexploiting nature in recent years. So: yes I am afraid of the future. Not only for me, but especially for my children.

When do you get the best ideas for a story?

I walk with my husband. I know this sounds surprising. But every evening we discuss the topics that move us and then spin around possible future scenarios. These are the sparks of my stories. I also get inspiration from other science fiction writers like James Corey, Philip Peterson or Orson Scott Card, as well as from masters of other genres. I love Dan Brown’s breathlessness, Jo Nesbo’s drama and twists, the depth of Tolkien’s storytelling, and Terry Pratchett’s incredibly complex and vibrant Discworld.

Here you read Jonah Sheffield from her books

Jonah Sheffield’s real name is Frederic Sheffield (née Bulbeck). She is 43 years old and has studied international shipping economics in Kiel. Jonah Sheffield lives with two daughters (11 and 6), a son (9 years old) and her husband in the small town of Dormagen, halfway between Düsseldorf and Cologne. Your home is only hundreds of meters from the Rhine. “I was able to keep my love and my closeness to the water,” said the Schöneberg native. On July 6, from 8 pm, you will read from her books at the Hotel am Rathaus in Schönberg. The organizer is the Probstei Cultural Association. Tickets are available in advance for ten euros at the Hotel am Rathaus (11 euros at the box office). Pupils pay five euros. More information at www.kulturverein-probstei.de.

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Is humanity itself its greatest enemy?

I ask myself this question over and over again in my books. Because if we destroy our land so much that we have to find a new home, the big question is: Have we learned from our mistakes? Or are we going back to old patterns on a new planet? I can only hope that we learn something new and that in the end we will not be our greatest enemies.

Announcing your first sci-fi series under the slogan: Will You Survive Lumira? Is the suspense for readers too high?

I have now received over 5000 reviews for my books, and I am very happy with them too. The most used word in all the reviews is ‘exciting’. So my readers assure that books tickle their nerves. This is my biggest compliment.

What is your favorite thing to do when your feet need to be back on your feet after typing?

In fact, I am always very happy with the amount of feedback I receive from readers – via email, but especially via Instagram and Facebook. I try to reply to all messages, even if I can’t always reply. It’s not a job for me, it’s a hobby that I love. Other than that, I have three children and a husband, with whom I do a lot as a family and they are my haven of peace. I am very grateful for that.

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