Welcome to Love of Place. Most of my work celebrates our connection to the natural world.

My new eco science fiction Knocking on Heaven's Door is just released. A number of early reviewers have been enthusiastic, including the website Geeks of Doom, which makes me smile. Not many people know me as a geek of doom! But I am happy to embrace the complexity of my personality.

I'm also so pleased that Diary of a Citizen Scientist: Chasing Tiger Beetles and Other New Ways of Engaging the World has been awarded the 2016 John Burroughs Medal for Distinguished Nature Writing, as well as the 2014 WILLA Award for Creative Nonfiction from Women Writing the West.

My historical fantasy Teresa of the New World won the 2015 Arizona Authors Association Award for best Children's Literature and was a finalist for the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards.

These are nice landmarks in a writer's life. I would be writing regardless--but, still, whew. It's good to have some encouragement.

Feel free to contact me at http://www.sharmanaptrussell.com or through my author Facebook page, Sharman Apt Russell.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Before I went on the YouTube SciShow, I didn't know that my host was a famously successful vlogger. I hadn't, really, heard that term before...but Hank Green is the brother of well-known author John Green (The Fault is in Our Stars), with whom he partners for various media events. Hank is also an environmental entrepreneur who graduated from the Environmental Studies Program, where I was teaching in Missoula, Montana this winter. There in lovely Missoula, Hank oversees his vlog empire, which sounds evil but actually employs over 40 people doing good work telling people about science and the environment. In this episode, I talk about citizen science and then we are joined by a biologist with a tarantula named Fluffy. 

One more thing: last time I checked out the Youtube, the show had over 78,000 views, with some 1700 Likes and 39 Dislikes. I can't help myself: I have to wonder about the Dislikes. Was it me? Or Fluffy? I'm pretty sure it was me.

See show.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Recently I went to New York City to accept the 2016 John Burroughs Medal for Distinguished Nature Writing for Diary of a Citizen Scientist. That involved a short speech and I began with the truth: the award had rendered me speechless. I am such a longtime writing teacher, and when my students say something like that—when they use words like “indescribable” or phrases like “words fail me”—I always say kindly, while secretly rolling my eyes, “Find the words. Try to describe it. That’s why you are a writer.” But the Burroughs Award has been given out since 1926 and its recipients include Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, and many other legendary nature writers and to be part of that cultural conversation, that continuous line…well, words failed me. I felt my students’ pain! I felt speechless.

To be honest, speeches—even short ones—are always nerve wracking. As usual, I dreaded those ten minutes, felt just fine in the middle of them, and was relieved when they were over. Unlike a reading, good speeches involve some live theater, the potential for disaster and serendipity. At the end of my speech, I spontaneously spoke about an exchange I had had recently with a friend, Mike Fugagli, a good nature writer himself:

“Once,” my friend said, “I believed the Earth was my mother.”

Yes, I thought, I remember that. We are shaped in our mother’s womb. We drink from her. We eat from her. Every day she nurtures us with so many gifts. She loves us. She loves me.

Then, later in his life, my friend replaced the image of the mother with that of the lover—what he called “matedness.” Yes, I nodded. We have covered the Earth. It would be too easy now to joke about infidelity, estrangement, divorce. Instead I give the metaphor its due: we are the bride of the world, and we are the groom. Our human consciousness, interpenetrated, mated with the Earth.

Next my friend said, “And now I think of the future as our child.”

And this caught at my heart. This made me feel something new. The future is our child.


Saturday, March 5, 2016

I’m uncharacteristically speechless. Diary of a Citizen Scientist (Oregon State University Press, 2014) has been awarded the 2016 John Burroughs Medal for Distinguished Nature Writing. The award will be presented this April 4 at the Annual Literary Awards ceremony of the John Burroughs Association at the Yale Club in New York City. You bet—Peter and I are going!

From the announcement: “The John Burroughs Medal was created in 1924 to recognize the best in nature writing and to honor the literary legacy of naturalist John Burroughs. The Medal has been awarded annually to a distinguished book of nature writing that combines scientific accuracy, firsthand fieldwork, and excellent natural history writing. This year's winner was selected by a review committee of Medal recipients.

Past Burroughs Medalists include Rachel Carson, Aldo Leopold, Joseph Wood Krutch, Loren Eiseley, Paul Brooks, Roger Tory Peterson, John Hay, Peter Matthiessen, John McPhee, Ann Zwinger, Barry Lopez, Gary Nabhan, Robert Michael Pyle, Richard Nelson, Carl Safina, Jan DeBlieu, Ted Levin, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Julia Whitty, Franklin Burroughs, Michael Welland, Edward Hoagland, Thor Hanson, Kathleen Jamie, and Sherry Simpson.”

Well, to be in such a list. What a thrill.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

It's exciting to have an audiobook of Knocking on Heaven's Door. Yes, you can click this link and hear this talented actress and narrator. I know that's common these days, but I am still amazed. Click. Listen. Click. Listen. Wow.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Guest Post! Many of you will know Lorraine as the editor of the seminal collection Sisters of the Earth.

Love, Sex, Earth
What’s Eros Got to Do with Saving the Planet?
by Lorraine Anderson

Here it comes again, the Hallmark version of Eros: the winged boy with arrows in his quiver meant to strike lust into young hearts. In this guise, dreamed up by the later Greek satiric poets, Eros enjoyed wreaking havoc in the Greek pantheon, smiting the gods with inconvenient desires and provoking unrequited loves. Zeus falls for the mortal Semele; Venus falls for the mortal Adonis. Tearing and rending of garments ensues, as do offspring: from the former couple, Dionysus, that hearty partier.

But this is a trivialization of Eros that obscures its power to move postmodern people toward a rapprochement with the natural world. In the most ancient Greek stories, Eros is a fundamental cause in the formation of the world, representing the power of love to unite discordant elements and bind humankind together. It’s that sense that we urgently need to recover today. Properly understood, Eros is a force of nature, the innate life force that connects us to ourselves, to other human beings, to all other living beings on the earth, and to the earth as a living being. Eros is fuel for a revolution of the heart. And sex plays an essential role in that revolution.

Native American poet Sherman Alexie refers to sex as “the fog-soaked forest into which we all travel,” “the damp, dank earth into which we all plunge our hands / . . . / to search for water and room and root and home.” Sexuality is basic and universal, and its great beauty is that when we are naked, vulnerable, and aroused, when we are out of our minds and fully in our bodies, we are perhaps closest to our own nature and our own wild hearts. In that moment we know for certain that we are part of, not above, the animal kingdom.

All of the environmental sins of our time spring from holding ourselves above and separate from the great body that provides for our every need. When we see ourselves that way, we impose our own self-serving plans on the natural world. The catastrophic results are all around us. Sexuality draws us into relationship and makes us see that we are part of—not apart from—nature. When we understand that what we do to nature we do to ourselves, we are much more likely to respect and hold sacred the land and other beings. We are much more likely to listen to and cooperate with the great intelligence that informs all life around us.

So on Valentines Day, go outside. Listen. Listen to your own beating heart, to your deepest longings, and to the world around you. Listen hard. Listen as if your life depends on it.

Lorraine Anderson is editor of the new book Earth & Eros: A Celebration in Words and Photographs, which brings together prose and poetry by nearly seventy authors—including Gary Snyder, Terry Tempest Williams, Sharman Apt Russell, Pablo Neruda, Diane Ackerman, D. H. Lawrence, and Louise Erdrich—to celebrate the sacred erotic dimension of humans’ relationship to the earth. Foreword by Robert Michael Pyle and photographs by Bruce Hodge.

And you can buy Lorraine's new collection Earth and Eros at Amazon and elsewhere.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

...I ride an old Paint and I lead an old Dan
Goin' to Montana to throw the houlihan
Feed them in the coulees, then water in the draw
Their tails are all matted and their backs are all raw...

I love this song. And I am pleased and proud to be going to Missoula, Montana this winter, where I’ll be the Bill Kittredge Distinguished Visiting Writer in the Environmental Studies Department, teaching one graduate workshop, writing in Missoula coffee shops, and snow-shoeing from my front door.

...Old Bill Jones had a daughter and a son
Son went to college and his daughter went wrong
His wife got killed in a free-for-all fight
Still he keeps singing from morning 'til night...

My husband and I met at the MFA program in Missoula in 1978, fell in love, graduated, married, and moved to southwestern New Mexico to be “back to the landers,” believing that our personal connection to nature was the cutting edge of a new environmentalism and land ethic. We had a too-big garden, too many goats, two homebirths—a daughter and a son—and too much goat cheese in the refrigerator. Our illusion that we could live off the land lasted two weeks, or maybe a little longer. Eventually we got jobs. Now we’ve been some 35 years in this watershed.

...When I die take my saddle from the wall
Put it onto my pony, lead him out of his stall
Tie my bones on his back and turn our faces to the west
We'll ride the prairies that we love the best...

Every day I am stunned, knocked out, by some bit of beauty in the place where I live. The clouds, a coyote, a burning bush. Half the time, I turn away, thinking about lunch or listening to the talk show running endlessly in my head. Half the time, I go into worship. 

...Ride around, little dogies, ride around them real slow
For the fiery and snuffy are raring to go...

How grand to be returning now to Montana. The fiery and snuffy are raring to go.

Monday, December 28, 2015

My sci-fi, eco, Paleoterrific novel Knocking on Heaven's Door is being released this January 6. Some early readers have written nice reviews. This is my first science fiction, and I am excited.


"In classic science fiction style, Russell presents a devastated world reformed into a seeming paleolithic paradise… [a] suspenseful and gripping tale” —William Seager, author of Natural Fabrications: Science, Emergence and Consciousness

“Like Ursula K. Le Guin and Kim Stanley Robinson, Sharman Apt Russell tells stories of human reorientation within a radically reanimated world… an urgent story that immerses the reader in the agonizing entanglements and wonders of being.” —Gib Prettyman, Pennsylvania State University, Associate Editor, Resources for American Literary Study

“Sharman Apt Russell’s vibrant new novel will enthrall readers with its vision of a future in which animism, panpsychism and hard science come together to show us how the forces shaping consciousness and the universe are one and the same.” —Imre Szeman, co-author of After Globalization

“Russell’s intelligence and imagination shine.” —Eric C. Otto, author of Green Speculations: Science Fiction and Transformative Environmentalism

“A syncretic approach where hard science and the hard problem of consciousness merge into a welcome addition to the science fiction canon. What’s more, this is a piece of storytelling at its best!” John M. Gist, co-author of Angst and Evolution: The Struggle for Human Potential, author of Lizard Dreaming of Birds

 “A gripping read—I couldn’t put it down, but I didn’t want it to end! Sharman Russell knows how to pay tribute to the great traditions of science fiction storytelling—and how to make them new for the twenty-first century.” Lisa Yaszek, author of Galactic Suburbia and past president of the Science Fiction Research Association

 “Russell’s novel remains steadfastly optimistic. A refreshing alternative to near-future dystopias, she offers a glimpse of a ‘future primitive’ in which people live more sustainably and equitably, sustained by a sense of wonder when nature turns out to have been panpsychic all along.” —Melody Jue, author of “Vampire Squid Media”

"An intriguing and compelling tale of humanity struggling to recover its indigenous allegiance to Earth and Earth Law despite the genie of physical science having well and truly escaped from the bottle." —Freya Matthews, author of For Love of Matter: a Contemporary Panpsychism

A voice keenly in tune with the discourses of science, ecology, rhetoric, and spirituality… Russell’s vision of tomorrow imagines sobering consequences - and pathways to possible solutions - to the crises we face today. --Michael R. Page, author of Frederik Pohl and The Literary Imagination from Erasmus Darwin to H.G. Wells: Science, Evolution, and Ecology 

 “Russell has a knack for fast-paced action and poetic turns of phrase, and readers will turn the pages quickly so they can follow along with the adventures of Brad, Clare, Dog, and Luke as they journey through this new world. Fans of post-apocalyptic science fiction will find this a wild and enjoyable ride.”--Stephanie Vie, author of (E)-Dentity 
 “Is there anything Sharman Apt Russell cannot do on the printed page? A triumph of the imagination; a brilliant and mesmerizing addition to the sci-fi canon." —JJ Amaworo Wilson, author of Damnificados