Author’s name: Inge Meldgaard
Title of book and/or series: The Seed Gatherers
Brief summary of the story:
Set in the year 2457, on the outskirts of Melbourne, Australia, a crime committed by two young Norwegians affects the entire community living at the base of the Dandenong Ranges. If caught, Yngwie and his friend Torleif, who are expert communication systems hackers, must answer to the Federation Special Investigation Unit. Others who use the event as inspiration plunge the forests and its people into chaos. The lives of scientists, forest guardians and seed gatherers are placed at risk, as are their cats – extraordinary creatures bred in special centres and with the power to influence human emotions.
In this third book of the series, that began with ‘The Cicada’, followed by ‘A Death In The Making’, the story gradually links back to earlier, unresolved questions. It also continues to explore the relationship between the cats and their human companions. When the geneticists at the breeding centre in Werribee realise the cats can perhaps no longer be controlled, they are faced with an ethical dilemma. Similarly, after a new and intriguing forest inhabitant is discovered, those who know of its existence must decide whether to reveal its secret.
Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:
By the year 2050, the world’s population had reached ten billion, and by 2090, had risen to twelve billion. Finally, by 2135, with a population of fifteen billion, Earth was in a state of crisis. Species extinctions increased exponentially and the planet’s ecosystems were at breaking point. The sick, the frail, the prematurely born and the disabled could no longer gain access to dwindling medical supplies and overextended facilities, so died in their hundreds of millions. Life expectancy dropped to a meagre fifty-six years in even the least affected countries.
As the world’s climate became increasingly unstable, and the wealthier nations began to feel the direst impacts, an awareness of the need for global government developed. The United Nations Assembly was transformed into the World Federation of Nations. Economic and technological aid, together with political incentives, were offered to those countries unable, or unwilling, to introduce population control or effective resource conservation measures. Some resisted what they perceived as interference and closed their borders, nationalising foreign-owned industries in a vain attempt to exclude the outside world. Others saw themselves as powerful enough to defy both the Federation and the inevitable consequences of their actions, so declared war – and solved their population problems by losing. Yet, by the middle of the twenty-third century, the world was finally at peace, although by this time had lost most of its natural forests and other wild places, while humans now numbered a mere three billion.
What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used for travel?
The ancient centres of inner London, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Amsterdam were now ghostly ruins, surrounded by water and inhabited by shadows, while the newer, and yet still relatively old, cities of Vancouver, Miami and New Orleans had been destroyed by the unleashed violence of tidal waves. The tidal waves followed a worldwide series of massive earthquakes, during which Japan and the American state of California were destroyed, together with countless other vulnerable regions and low-lying island states.
Melbourne was more fortunate than many other coastal cities, being sheltered from the worst storms by Port Phillip Bay. Some of the older buildings in the central area were lost, but those which had been well built, or were strategically placed on the summits of low hills, survived as islands in a shallow and gentle sea. The noise, smell and dirt of the city’s streets were, in time, replaced by the grace and silence of solar-electric powered watercraft. The walls of the buildings, once covered in grime from exhaust fumes, returned to their original colours, and after almost two hundred years, the sunlight now sparkled on clean waters.
What is the political or government structure in 25th century Earth?
The World Federation of Nations has member countries with democratic national governments and where relevant, State governments. Everyone is required to work a 25-hour week to the best of their ability, and in return are provided with all essential services, delivered by government organisations, receive a quota of scarce resources, and in addition, a number of credits with which to buy goods and services produced by private enterprises.
What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in 25th century Earth?
Although the world is now finally at peace, realistic attitudes towards the occasional need for self-defence, together with a wish to promote self-confidence and physical fitness, means children usually begin martial arts training at a young age, with an emphasis on Wing Chun kung fu, due to its overall philosophy of non-aggression.
What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people in 25thcentury Earth? If there is magic, please give some examples of what it involves or how it’s used.
To some extent answering this question gives a significant part of the story away, so let’s just say that cats are not the only creatures who have developed strange powers: so have certain people, and they have ancestors who are described in the epilogue to the second book of this series, A Death In The Making. Notably, only Australians have these powers at this point in time.
Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?
I was born in Denmark, which has a long history of social equality, a remarkably sensible approach to life, and from the 1920s to the early 1990s, a socialist government, whereby everyone could feel secure in the knowledge that they could contribute to the country and in return be well provided for. My parents imbued me with a strong sense of social responsibility and the need to care for what we have, as well as our environment. This in turn led me to question many of the social norms of the decades in which I grew up, i.e. the 1960s and 70s, and to join various organizations to fight for social change. My novels are a reflection of my need to explore options, challenge assumptions, and to put forward possibilities for discussion and change, where needed. I don’t pretend to say my scenarios are ‘correct’, but I do intend them to be thought provoking.
What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?
The main issues I focus upon are concerned with climate change as it affects both people and the natural environment; our relationship with animals; and the problems faced by people who are ‘different’ from the majority, in particular those with disabilities.
My family migrated to Australia in 1957, where I grew up in the small country town of Yallourn. After finishing high school in 1970, I studied at Monash University, in Melbourne, for a Bachelor of Science in botany and genetics. From 1975 to 1984, I worked in a variety of professions, including youth work and teaching. Returning to study, I completed a Graduate Diploma in applied social research at Swinburne University, then worked in politics and community development until I once again returned to study in 1989, this time obtaining a Graduate Diploma in information technology. Since then, until retirement in 2006, I worked in this field, finally spending nine years as an IT Manager with Monash University.
I now live in the Dandenong Ranges on the outskirts of Melbourne, and since retiring have spent more time enjoying photography and art; writing poetry, short stories and novels; producing an illustrated children’s book, and publishing a personal memoir for another author. My other life-long interests include gardening, interior decoration and the appreciation of pre-WWII architecture.
Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your books?
All my books are available in paperback and eBook formats (epub, pdf and Kindle), and the children’s book is also available as a hardcover edition. They are available worldwide from all major retail websites, as well as from Australian library suppliers.
Where can readers connect with you online?
I have a personal Facebook page, which is easy enough to find because I’m the only person with my name living in Australia. I also have a Twitter account @ingemeldgaard, a large profile on the world’s most prolific art website (redmatilda.deviantart.com) and my email address is [email protected]