River guide Madeline Kruse has always preferred the nomadic life over a settled home. In early 2003, she’s on the run from the long-standing pain of a missing father and critically ill mother trying to save the world. Madeline’s wandering takes her to northeastern Utah, a corner of the West time has passed over, with its stunningly beautiful wilderness, rivers to run, and room to breathe. In the tiny town of Junction, she meets alfalfa farmer Chris Sorensen, whose family has split apart since September 11 and the enlistment of his brother in the U.S. Marines. Through Chris and a drama taking place deep in the Utah backcountry, Madeline learns that the pristine canyons she loves are being threatened, and she must overcome many obstacles if she is to find peace and her place by the river.
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How is Writing In Your Genre Different from Others?
Writing ecofiction is a challenge in that the author has to be convincing about setting, science, current affairs, local sentiment about issues, and ecology. I’m a geologist who went into science to learn to write just this sort of book: one in which I could be very convincing about the place-based drama going on in the character’s lives. This book is also at heart a romance! So learning to write good sex scenes, convincing dialogue between lovers, tension among characters–all were part of writing in this genre. Because ecofiction needs to be good fiction first and in the journey of telling a good story convince readers to care for place.
What Advice Would You Give Aspiring Writers?
I love the advice Natalie Goldberg gives in Thunder and Lightning. Just write for two or three years before even giving a thought to getting published. Really. You need to find your voice, and the beginning or aspiring writer hasn’t necessarily discovered that yet. While trying to get into print, it’s all too easy as a beginner to get pushed around a bit by the needs of publishers, agents, and editors. Just tell your story. Observe the world, read like crazy, and tell your damn good story.
Rebecca Lawton writes about nature, human and otherwise. She won the Ellen Meloy Fund Award for Desert Writers and was a San Francisco Chronicle best-selling author for Reading Water: Lessons from the River. Her novel, Junction, Utah, about a river runner caught between life on the water and land, is rooted in her many years of whitewater guiding.
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
The beauty and importance of wild rivers and wilderness. Especially in these times when our disconnection from the land helps to create a national crisis of disenfranchisement from compassion and empathy, as well as puts our planet in peril, writing story that connects us to place and community is one of the highest acts I believe we can aspire to. I didn’t realize when I started this project what this belief would do to my life in terms of commitment and focus, time away from my daughter and husband, and financial sacrifice, but I still believe it was an important task to undertake.