QUEENSBURY — Johanna Spero found herself in tears after watching a documentary on polar bears and the melting ice caps.
Besides recycling, she tried to find something she could do to bring light to the devastation brought on from climate change.
“What am I passing down to my children to deal with?” Spero said. “Then my next thought was, ‘What can I do?’ And I thought to myself, ‘Well, I can write a book about climate change.’”
The result was “Concerto,” her third published book and the second in the young adult fantasy “Forte” series.
The book continues the story of Sami McGovern, the main character in “Forte,” a book based in the town of Whitehall. The book is about a young woman with magic powers who has to struggle between silencing her music in order to play sports.
In “Concerto,” Sami has visions of hurricane-like storms coming.
“Turns out there are these evil powers that are invoking these natural — quote, unquote — disasters,” she said. “She has to use her magic, her music, to try to stop these natural disasters from happening. It’s all tied with a fight between the Greek Gods.”
Spero is frustrated by and interested in what the average person can do to help reverse the effects of climate change.
“All this crazy weather that’s happening, the flooding and the tornados hitting random places, weather that people are just not used to seeing,” Spero said. “The idea that these natural disasters are the effect of this evil power, I thought, was a nice way to help people think about it.”
Spero, who lives in Queensbury with her husband and three sons, was never sure she could write an entire book.
She was inspired to do so at a dinner party when a guest suggested she write a book about her tenure at a dot-com startup in the late 1990s, working under a CEO who was taking over the company she created.
“Literally, I went home from that dinner party and started writing,” Spero said. “I would go to work, I would come home, I would write until like 2 in the morning, sipping bourbon.”
Finishing that book gave her a great sense of accomplishment and the confidence to know she could have a future in writing someday.
“It felt so good, and I just felt so good through the process of writing that I was hooked,” she said.
As a young mother moving around the country for her husband’s job, Spero continued to write books — one about her mother’s family of nine. While raising her three boys, going to graduate school and becoming an English teacher, she spent eight years writing a book about a Russian orphan who became a mail-order bride in America.
“These are books that never saw the light of day,” Spero laughed.
Her first published book, “Catcher’s Keeper,” which she self-published, was chosen as a finalist in the 2014 Indie Excellence Book Awards contest and also made the top 5 percent out of 10,000 entries in the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.
“So they published ‘Forte’ and I thought it was one and done,” Spero admitted. “I thought to myself, ‘If sales are really good and it does really well, they’ll probably want me to write a sequel,’ but I wasn’t banking on it.”
After a year went by, she was surprised when her publisher did ask for a sequel.
“Part of marketing strategy is to write the next book and that will help you sell the existing one,” Spero said. “So, you keep cranking out books, you start having a following, you start getting a name for yourself and those book reviews start adding up.”
She is currently writing the third book in the series now, and the end of “Concerto” contains a teaser chapter for that third book. The new book delves into the backstory of the main character’s best friends.
Spero gives herself a goal to write 1,000 words a day when she’s not teaching yoga, editing college essays for an online service and running her three boys to their activities.
She admits she fell a bit short of her January goal.
But she enjoys writing books that her sons can read. Her two older sons have both read “Forte” and “Concerto.”
“My boys are so proud that their mom does this,” she said. “They think I’m like a famous author. I don’t have the heart to tell them I’m small potatoes.”