Interview with Dain Rohtla, Author of 'The Sustainability Handbook'


June 22, 2020


I was privileged to invite Dain Rohtla for an interview with BooKecCenTric to discuss his latest book The Sustainability Handbook and the inspiration behind it. Enjoy!

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What's your book The Sustainability Handbook about, and what inspired you to write it?
The Sustainability Handbook is meant to be a textbook about sustainable development - general issues about sustainability, how YOU can be more sustainable, political agendas to fight climate change, and my overarching thesis that sustainability is not dependent on technology, but rather economics and people's unwillingness to change. Greta Thunberg is the most well-known environmental pundit yet she does not really proffer tax agendas, she complains, and I would rather people focus on solutions than problems.

I was inspired by debating my friends about the benfits of hunting. I told them not to think about 'killing bambi,' take the emotions out of it because A) the money spent on hunting saves more animals than you kill, and B) animals die more gruesome deaths in the wild if they are not killed by hunters. This inspired me to do more reading about it. I had already taken sustainable development classes and was decently in-tune politically so I just wanted to put my thoughts together for myself.

Who is your target audience, and why do you think this book will appeal to them?
This is best suited for those of high school age and above who are interested in politics or the environment. This should appeal because it offers a bipartisan take on combatting climate change, a narrative which is dominated by left wing thinkers who Greenwash the issue to advance socialism policies. Many right-wing people support the environment but do not want to hear congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez or Greta Thunberg so this argues brings more context to the issue.

What message do you wish to pass across to your readers with this book?
Environmental degradation is worse than you think; its not just a slight rise in temperature, its trash pollution, marine life decline, terrestrial life decline, deforestation, everything and it affects everyone.

As a writer, is there anything you've learned about yourself while writing this book?
I care more about the environment than when I started! I did not care that much originally, it seemed quite intangible, but now I see it as ever-present, I notice the massive plastic wrapping everywhere, the abundance of beef, and it makes me want to change things.

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books, and why?  
I like traditional books, it feels good to hold paper, scrunch the book on my lap, flip through the pages, and see it on my bookshelf.

What is your niche genre, and if you were to write in a different genre, what would it be?
I like environmental economics; I write a lot about it on my society's website roosevelt-group.org as well. If not this I would write fantasy, when I was in 6-8th grade I wrote a 250-page fantasy book that was probably horrible and has since been mysteriously deleted.

Why do care about the environment?
Growing up in the suburbs instilled a love of the outdoors when I was young. I was am an Eagle Scout and I love carp fishing most of all. No matter how much time I spent on other aspects of boyscouts like knot tying, or other hobbies like soccer, I always came back to carp fishing. At university in Scotland I took Sustainable Development classes because they were apparently easy, but it taught me alot. I learned about how important marine life is for my hobbies and the world but that it was dying excruciatingly quickly. I wanted to help the environment because it gives me so much joy.

What books and authors have most influenced you?
I am a huge fan of Ernest Hemingway, more as a person than a writer. I love his attraction to hunting, fishing, skiing, all these wonderful adventures. My favorite of his books is Green Hills of Africa which is a non-fiction account of his hunting in Africa and it instills the sense of love, of the journey, not only the goal, and the true simple pleasures of life, like a Michigan sunset or whiskey at the end of a hard day of hiking.
Other than Hemingway, I read a wide selection, mostly older works. I love F Scott Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night and The Great Gatby which I have reread several times.

Why is your finance background pertinent in a discussion about ecology? 
To many ecologists and 'treehuggers' get caught up in feelings and morals. Too many people don't react to that, especially if they don't spend time hunting, hiking, and fishing. Eating vegan or riding a bike to work is difficult, so we need to educate people on how climate change affects them, and incentivize them to act cleaner. If we say its because polar bears are dying or because insects are going extinct in the Amazon, that doesn't hit home.

Any additional comments?
Regarding the organization e350.org, I think they create a false narrative. The premise is that we need to bring the atmosphere's CO2 PPM down to 350 (and its now nearly 420) to stop global warming, and we do this by divesting from those greedy bastard fossil fuel companies. I think those greatly overemphasizes the importance of divestment. We should not focus on tearing down something we need, thats just hypocritcal and dangerous. There is no way we can operate without fossil fuel so stop acting like divestment will make them go bankrupt and save the planet. Secondly, if the goal is to bring down PPM to 350 lets actually focus on that. If we want to reduce CO2 we need to focus on aforestation: planting trees through initiatives like the Great Green Wall, and restoring seagrass which is great for carbon sequestration. Other than this, we should be INVESTING in renewables and particularly carbon capture storage technology companies like Climeworks. We should heal the environment by building helpful institutions not creating a socialist economy devoid of fossil fuels.

Do you have any more books in the works?
I want to write a fishing diary / Florida-policy specific piece. I love Florida, I recently tarpon fished down there but it has experienced great degradation lately. Fish populations are going down, seagrass is torn up, bad water from Okeechobee flows into saltwater estuaries, its a mess, and they rely on the outdoors for the economy!

What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, Goodreads, etc.)?
Follow me on Twitter @economicsmussel


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Dain Rohtla is a University of St Andrews Management student from America. At school he is Head of the Economic Policy Research Group and President of the international society, Roosevelt Group. He plans on going into the finance field but thinks sustainability will be of increasing importance in business. This is his first book but plans to write others. Follow him on Twitter @EconomicsMussel

Interview with Sharice Rascoe, Author of 'Shaina's World: My Family and Autism'


June 3, 2020

I was privileged to invite Sharice Rascoe for an interview with BooKecCenTric to discuss her latest book Shaina's World: My Family and Autism and the inspiration behind it. Enjoy!


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What's your book Shaina's World: My Family and Autism about, and what inspired you to write it?
I wrote a middle-grade chapter book for kids that’s loosely based off of my life growing up having two siblings diagnosed with autism. I chose to write about this experience because I know there are other kids who are feeling the way I felt and wanted to them to have a book they could to relate to. Support is important for kids growing up with that type of family, so I wanted them to see they aren’t alone. I want other kids to read it as well and get a better understanding of what it’s like to have family members with special needs.

Who is your target audience, and why do you think this book will appeal to them?
Tweens are my target audience. So anyone between the ages of 8-12 will enjoy this story. However, I am finding out that adults like the story just as much as kids do so that's a pleasant surprise. The book is has 7 chapters and there are illustrations in it so I wrote it with kids in mind.

What message do you wish to pass across to your readers with this book?
My main mission for writing this book was to bring autism awareness to kids at a young age so they are aware of it if they ever encounter a person with special needs. Having empathy for other people is so important to instill in children so they won't forget it when they get older. Hopefully their parents will read it with them and get a better understanding of what it's like to have a relative with autism also.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
One of the most difficult aspects for me was the editing process. I’ve had several editors help me out with it, but I still found myself going back into the manuscript and adding more things to the story and changing some of the edits that were made because I didn’t feel they were necessary. Working with my illustrator was another difficult obstacle, and that took several months to complete. She had to keep making adjustments to the same illustration several times so that it looked the way I wanted it to. I’m very meticulous so I know it was tough for her, but she hung in there and got the job done so I’m grateful for that.

As a writer, is there anything you've learned about yourself while writing this book?
I’ve learned not to underestimate myself and that I should never say never. For years I’ve told myself that I I’m not a good writer and I hated doing writing assignments in school, so I was convinced that I’d never be able to write a book. Through this process, God showed me that He shows up strong in the areas that we are the weakest in. Now it’s easier than ever to write a book and self-publish because they’re so many resources available to help you out.

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books, and why?  
Both, it depends on the type of book. For longer books, like the classics, or self-improvement books I like to have the paper/hard back version of it. For books that are shorter and that I want to read just for fun and entertainment I'll just stick with the ebook version, but to me nothing beats the feeling of actually holding a book in your hand.

What is your niche genre, and if you were to write in a different genre, what would it be?

This is my first book, but I do feel like my niche is more middle grade fiction. If I were to write a different genre it would just be picture books for children ages 4-8.

What books and authors have most influenced you?
Wow, well I've read so many books it's hard to pick. I've been reading a lot of books that help change your thinking when it comes to money. There's one that was recommended to me by my financial mentor called "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill that's a must read for anyone learning how to develop a wealthy mindset.

Is there anything you'd like readers to know about you?
I thought I was going to be an Engineer growing up because I was good in math and science in school. I had to learn that it wasn't enough to just be good at something or just want to do it for money. You have to actually like what it is you're doing.

Do you have any more books in the works?
I am planning on releasing a second book in 2022. I've already started the outline for it and I want to start working on the manuscript for it by the end of this year.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Yes, but right now I don't have a lot of reviews for it yet so hopefully that changes soon. I don't want to sound like I'm bragging but I haven't had a bad review come in for it so far. I've learned to take any type of critique as constructive criticism. This is my first time doing this so I feel even if there's someone who hates it, I can learn from that if they tell me why.

What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, Goodreads, etc.)?

My book has its own social media pages: Facebook: @shainasworld

Instagram: @shainasworldbook

Website to purchase: https://msha.ke/shainasworldbook

It's also on Goodreads.

Any additional comments you would like to add?
Hope anyone that's reading this checks out my book and enjoys reading it. It was a labor of love.

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Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, Sharice Rascoe is an entrepreneur and first time author. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercy College in 2015 and is a member of its chapter for the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. The New York City native has three brothers- two of which were diagnosed with autism at a very young age. By writing this book, she hopes to not only inspire children who can relate to her story, but to help make others more aware about people with special needs and the struggles that they and their families have to face.




Book Review: When Stars Are Scattered

May 8, 2020

CHECK IT OUT
Book summary:
Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, have spent most of their lives in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. Life is hard there: never enough food, achingly dull, and without access to the medical care Omar knows his nonverbal brother needs. So when Omar has the opportunity to go to school, he knows it might be a chance to change their future . . . but it would also mean leaving his brother, the only family member he has left, every day.

Heartbreak, hope, and gentle humor exist together in this graphic novel about a childhood spent waiting, and a young man who is able to create a sense of family and home in the most difficult of settings. It's an intimate, important, unforgettable look at the day-to-day life of a refugee, as told to New York Times Bestselling author/artist Victoria Jamieson by Omar Mohamed, the Somali man who lived the story.


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When Stars are Scattered, written by Omar Mohamed and Victoria Jamieson, is the story of a young Somali, Omar Mohamed, who navigates through hard life with his brother Hassan, as young refugees in a Kenyan camp, having run from the civil war in Somalia that broke in 1991 and went on for years.

At the time of the book’s first pages, they'd been living in the refugee camp for seven years. They couldn’t go back to Somalia, where home was, because the war was still going on. They couldn’t call Kenya their home, because Kenya wasn’t – they were simply in a refugee camp based in Kenya. So think of two 'nationless' brothers, on their own, no mother, no father, holding on to hope that someone would one day claim them, hoping and waiting for their mother. 

When Stars are Scattered brings to mind a big wave of awareness to the littlest things we have in our part of the world that we take so much for granted, and it squeezes our heart to know that things so seemingly small to us is a world of treasure to others who’ve found themselves in situations they never asked for or imagined. I was encouraged by Omar’s resilience, moved by his deep love for his brother Hassan, his guardian Fatuma, and his friends and community at the camp. I also found myself smiling hard at the humorous moments, thrown in little bites, in the story.

The writing style is quite simple, and that's what makes it such a great book. Infact, the simplicity is quite extraordinary and tugs at your heartstrings, because it's written from the perspective of a young boy whose innocence you can feel in the words that reveal heavy truths and harsh realities – the harsh realities of war, the damage it wrecks to homes, families, lives. One moment he and his brother are living happily at home with both parents, and the next moment both parents are gone and the brothers find themselves literally running for their lives, on foot, to another country.

The portrayal of the characters and scenery through the images is so spectacular, you needn’t words to understand the scenes. Kudos to Jamieson, the artist behind such spectacular work of art.

Without giving away too much, I’d use just one word to describe it: Brilliant. It’s an amazing story of endurance, hardship, love, resilience, hope, and reconciliation.

Today, Omar now runs a project that advocates for refugees from all over the world. I encourage everyone to buy the book, and be sure to check out the last few pages for more information about the project.


GENRE: Memoir/Graphic novel
COARSE LANGUAGE: None
VIOLENCE: Low
SEXUAL CONTENT: None
MATERIAL CONNECTION: Purchased for reading pleasure only