I wanted to write a book I wanted to read. That’s it. Funny thing is, there aren’t too many sci-fi farming fairy tales out there. Trust me…I’ve looked. Secondly, I’ve worked with kids and teachers from around the world most of my adult life, as a designer and social entrepreneur. What I’ve found recently is that optimism for the future is in short supply, or at best, not evenly distributed. How do we envision, or co-design, a future where we can all thrive? Well, first, you have to believe that a positive future is possible.
So, that’s how Girl Out of Time started, as a design experiment. Envision a potential future that is desirable, and then work backwards to identify the changes that we need to make to get us there. It’s called backcasting. It’s a little like time travel. Wait. It’s actually a lot like time travel, but just in your head and with lots of sticky notes. Which got me thinking. Hmmmm...time travel.
The exercise took on a life of its own as I began weaving together the themes I love most in life — regenerative farming, nature, science, biomimicry, making, music, found family and community — and in the process, I was introduced to characters I wanted to spend more time getting to know.
Girl Out of Time became a time travel story. It's also a story about our environment and everyday people making a difference. It's about farming, and making, and finding your place in time. It's the story of two people, among many, who will help bring about that change. This is Anna’s story — a young girl adrift in time, anchored to no place since her parents’ death. And, it’s Mara’s story, too — a broken time traveler hiding from the mistakes of her past.
And, I love time travel stores. The loopier, the better.
And, of course, there have to be aliens. Really cool aliens. And, funny friends, and wormholes, and alien landscapes, and awesome technology that is actually feasible like anti-gravity, quantum computing, AI, and cloaking devices. And, while we’re at it…I’ve always wanted to be able to fly. That’s a big part of the story, too. Flying. Lots of flying. Oh, and chase scenes, too.
You get the idea. If you have the chance, let me know what you think. Hopefully you have as much fun reading this book as I had writing it.
Musical Break ♭
Take a break and listen to the music that inspired the book. It's free, it has lots of chill songs, and just try and find another playlist that includes Sigur Ros, Furry Lewis, Daisuke Miyatani, and Hank Williams.
Where The Girl Out of Time is going
Girl Out of Time is just the beginning, and it sets the stage for future adventures. Never let a good wormhole go to waste, my father always told me. The cast of characters will expand as future books look to introduce new kids from around the world, all connected for a reason. Like I said, if we’re going to solve the big challenges like climate change, it’s going to take a lot of people doing a lot of different experiments. The big problems of our time do not recognize national boundaries. Nature will also have a much bigger role in the following stories, just as it will in all of our lives.
When you’re inspired by so many things, where do you start? Seriously. This isn’t easy. So, here goes…In no particular order.
Biomimicry (I’m also a grad student in the MS Biomimicry program at Arizona State University) — Nature is the greatest designer. Most of the solutions are already out there. We just need to learn to be quiet and listen.
My life growing up on a farm. Farming is hard and it doesn’t pay well, so I’m not going to romanticize it. But, barring the stress and the fairly high mortality rate for kids under 18, farming is a really healthy lifestyle. Time flows differently and is more in tune with circadian rhythms and being out in nature has a positive impact on your health. I spend a good part of my life on the lookout for the latest innovation, so I’ve become pretty good at recognizing trends. Let me just go on record — farming is going to be so hot in the next couple of years, especially among millennials. Just ask the National Young Farmers Coalition.
4-H. A leader in positive youth development, 4-H reaches almost 6 million kids with life-changing programs. I'm particularly a fan of their STEM and Agriculture programs; plant and animal science, environmental science and alternate energy. This isn't the same 4-H I grew up with on the farm, although it was awesome in my day too. They now even reach into urban areas and help connect kids to nature and their community. What makes them so special is how Positive Youth Development is at the core of everything they do.
Every single Hayao Miyazaki film. All of them. Other films? Interstellar, Wizard of Oz. Also just about anything by Wes Anderson, especially Moonrise Kingdom.
The Maker Movement. Farmers were makers before the term came into vogue. We would just call it farming and making do with the limited resources we had. Any families interested in getting started should check out Maker Education.
Open Source Ecology. I was an early stage investor, and this group served as inspiration for Uncle Jack and his research farm. You should check them out.
Savory Institute. Big audacious goals here. It's why I love them and I’m a member. The Savory Institute leads the way in facilitating the large-scale regeneration of the world's grasslands.
My name is Clyde Boyer and I'm the author of Girl Out of Time. I'm also a social entrepreneur, co-founder of Trinity Education Group, and former farm kid who has spent my life working with underserved youth and migrant populations, as well as building learning hubs in Africa and Latin America. I'm also a frequent public speaker and an advisory board member of SXSW EDU. As a lifelong learner and student of biomimicry, I believe nature is the best teacher in solving many of our world’s issues.