FINDING MY WRITE STUFF
I’m a third-generation Californian who migrated from southern Cal to northern Cal. What I like most about my state is that one can go from the ocean to the mountains in one day, with a lunch stop in the desert. I like it so much I’ve chosen those settings for my forensic geology books.
I’ve hiked the same trails, skied the same mountains, and kayaked the same waters as my characters — but I don’t get into nearly the trouble that they do.
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So how did I get here?
As a kid, I loved to sit on a sun-warmed boulder in the park, reading mystery and adventure stories and scribbling in my diary.
As I got older I ventured off the boulder into the greater outdoors. I kayaked in the Pacific Ocean, skied and backpacked in the Sierra mountains, hiked and camped in the Death Valley desert. Whenever, wherever a rock caught my eye, I’d bring it home.
Along the way I paid closer and closer attention to the environment.
After college I began a writing career: from magazine articles to textbooks to tech writing … and then I settled into making up my own stories. Much more fun.
And then, all those rocks I’d been collecting turned my head to geology. I came across a textbook on forensic geology and was hooked. I found a generous forensic geologist who showed me around his lab and taught me the basics. And then I found two more who are generous enough to vet my science. With every book in my series, I consult with experts in the fields I write about. Gold mining, mercury poisoning, radiation, volcanoes, diving, jellyfish… More generosity.
Underpinning the rocks and the mystery and the thrills and the adventure is that connection with the environment that grew over the years. I can’t write about using earth evidence to solve mysteries without paying heed to the needs of the Earth, itself.
I write eco-fiction.
On a sun-warmed boulder in the high Sierra
At Machu Picchu…finally!!
At Sand Harbor
- Places: Machu Picchu, Lake Tahoe’s Sand Harbor, Powell Point at Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, a beach town named Cayucos, an unnamed meadow in California’s high high Sierra Nevada mountains … because they bring me joy.
- Bird: pelicans, because they are so endearingly awkward and at the same time majestic, and their lineage goes back 30 million years. Talk about hanging in there…
- Color: blue… no, green… no, blue. Because I watched a lot of Monty Python.
- Rock: blueschist, because blue is one of my favorite colors. And the rock’s origin seems wonderfully paradoxical. Blueschist minerals form under unusual metamorphic condtions: high pressure + low temperatures, pressures found near the base of the continental crust, and temps that exist near the surface. So how does that happen? The answer is plate tectonics, two plates smashing together: rocks are shoved down to extreme depths and then rapidly brought back up, before they can heat up completely. And voila = blueschist.
- Food: cheese, because, well, cheese.
- Sports: hiking and kayaking and skiing and (weirdly) beach croquet. Because fun.
- Clothing: pajamas, because a writer gets to wear PJs to work.
- Books: so many… But my all-time favorite is Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner.