I turned to writing ecological science fiction after helping design and build remote sensing instruments used to monitor environmental changes on earth from space. Thinking about the way the lives of animals are constrained by their environment fired my imagination. The characters in my novels were chosen partly in reaction to William Blake's aphorism "The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction," and I wondered what it would be like if animals felt remorse. Nama and Westwind's reflections are akin to those described by Mary Austin in her short story "The Walking Woman."
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Reading was a puzzle at first, but I caught on quickly when my teacher Mrs. MacMonnies helped me. My mother got "To and Again" by Walter R. Brooks from the library, and I remember how exciting it was to read.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I tried to write a story when I was seven, but it was much too difficult! Later, I gained confidence by writing practice essays on topics I chose for myself. My English teacher in ninth grade encouraged me to write a description of Viking ships. For a term paper, I studied old popular histories of the Civil War and tried to fill in missing technical details by comparing different accounts of the same battle. Now this information is much more accessible because of search engines and the Internet.
Trekking On is the sequel to the eco-fiction fantasy Beasts of the Open Space. Prehistoric herbivores Nama and Westwind are together again after a time of crisis and separation. Their former way of life has been swept away, and they set off with their daughter Acacia and her pal Shadow to seek new opportunities in new places.
Horse-like beasts Westwind and Nama hope to start a family. They're smarter than big herbivores have any need to be and see themselves as the product of impersonal forces rather than the willful creatures of a purposeful deity.