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Interview with Neil Kitching



He is a geographer and energy specialist from Scotland. He has written his first book, Carbon Choices, on the common-sense solutions to our climate and nature crises. He works for the public sector, promoting opportunities for businesses to benefit from low-carbon heating and water technologies. Neil had a mid-life career change from accountant to working in sustainable development then energy. This book arose from Neil’s frustration that so many people lack a basic understanding of climate change and its serious impacts. Education is the first step towards taking action.


Q.1 Tell us something about yourself not many people know?
A.
I have climbed all the Munros in Scotland. These are the mountains over 3,000 feet (914m). There are 282 of them, and it took me over 40 years to climb them all.

I have also visited India twice. Once as a student, staying in cheap hostels, traveling by overnight bus to Kashmir, and getting sick on the way. I returned on a work mission relating to the Clean Ganges project. This time I stayed in an expensive hotel in Delhi, cocooned from street life. Two very different experiences.

Q.2 Do you have any upcoming books? What are you currently working on?
A.
I have only written and published one book. I am now spending my time marketing it and delivering talks in the lead-up to the climate conference in November (COP26).

Q.3 When did you decide to write Carbon Choices: Common-Sense Solutions to Our Climate and Nature Crisis?
A.
I planned to write a book when I retired, but that might be too late to save the world from climate change. So when I heard that Glasgow, near where I live, was to host the COP26 climate talks, I thought I should write and publish my book before the talks.

Q.4 Did you face any difficulties while writing this book?
A.
Finding time! I work full-time, but when the Covid pandemic hit, I suddenly started working from home. This freed up more time with a restricted social life and with no time wasted commuting to work.

Q.5 If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
A.
You can do it! Believe in the power of words.

Q.6 What kind of research you did before or while writing this book?
A.
Most of it poured out of my mind, allowing me to write very easily. However, I checked a few facts, and then I checked each chapter I wrote with an expert in that field.

Q.7 What are the three things a reader can expect from your books?
A.
Clarity, plain English, and common sense.

Q.8 Do you feel that your profession as Energy and Water specialist helped you with your writing? And if so, how?
A.
Through my geography degree and general reading, I learned about climate change and its effects, but through work, I learned about how business can play its part in tackling climate change. Innovation is critical in bringing new solutions and bringing the cost down - such as for electric vehicles and battery storage.

Q.9 Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with good or bad ones?
A.
I do read the reviews on Amazon to learn and improve any future edition. Yet, it is funny how you tend to ignore the good reviews and focus rather negatively on the rare bad reviews. I think this is human nature.

Q.10 What is your writing schedule while you’re working?
A.
When I was writing my book, I did an hour every day, first thing before work, more or less 7 days per week. So first thing in the morning, I was fresh, and in any case, I could not type all day.

Q.11 Where do you hope to take your writing in the future?
A.
I hope to publish an update, then a sequel, perhaps focusing even more on the solutions to climate change and our nature crisis.

Q.12 Do you believe in writer’s block? If yes, how do you deal with it?
A.
It is not something I have experienced. I wanted to write. I almost ‘needed’ to write.

Q.13 What makes your books stand out from the crowd?
A.
A publisher told me that I cannot recall seeing another self-published book that follows such a high standard. The front cover, a picture of the sunset over the Okavango Delta in Botswana, is a bonus too.

Q.14 What is your favorite book from other authors and why?
A.
I love books that bring nature to life. The Great Soul of Siberia (2017) by Sooyong Park tracks the last remaining Siberian tigers in their ever-diminishing wilderness. It nearly made me cry.

Q.15 How do your family/friends feel about your book or writing venture in general?
A.
They were surprised because it came from nowhere. My wife has given me the space I need to write and market the book.

Q.16 Is it vital to get exposure and target the right readers for your writing? Tell us about your marketing campaign?
A.
I have tried many ideas. I quickly learned not to pay on the internet for marketing as these so-called ‘professionals’ knew less about my market than I did. My book is aimed at adults who have an interest in the environment but did not learn about climate change at school and also at older students. So, I have aimed at these two audiences. I target environmental organizations to see if they will distribute something on my book to their members. I am also targeting geography teachers and am speaking at two geography conferences. It has also been valuable to team up with a group of like-minded international environmental authors that I met on Twitter. We now have a Facebook page and share marketing tips.

Q.17 What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
A.
Find someone or some people you can work with who will review your work chapter by chapter. Then, accept their criticisms and make changes.

Q.18 Which famous person, living or dead, would you like to meet and why?
A. David Attenborough
. He is such an inspiration for nature and wildlife. In recent years he is increasingly campaigning on climate change as he realizes that climate change will devastate humans and the natural world.

Q.19 Who designed your book covers?
A.
It was my photographs taken in Botswana. An agent, Publish Nation, designed the cover around the photograph.

Q.20 Share the experience of your journey so far?
A.
Probably like most writers, I enjoyed the challenge of writing and publishing a book. It has its ups and downs, but you have a clear destination – publication. I hadn’t realized that this is just the first step; you then need to market your book, and most of us are less keen on that. For me, it has been good, and it has opened up new friendships with fellow authors and opportunities to talk to community groups and at conferences.


Share your social account links -
Facebook -
@carbonchoices
LinkedIn - neil-kitching-55833314
Instagram - @carbonchoices
Twitter - @carbonchoicesuk
Website - www.carbonchoices.uk

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