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

Most recently, my Knocking on Heaven's Door is the winner in the category of science fiction in the 2016 New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards and in the category of fiction in the 2016 Arizona Authors Association Awards. A number of 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 Award for Children's Literature, the WILLA Award for Children's Literature, and the May Sarton Award for Children's Literature.

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, September 17, 2014

Traditionally I support writers and writing by having guest writers come on this site. Mary Black has written a wonderful place-based novel which she talks about below. I am a great fan of  Paleolithic fiction! That world is our home, our heritage, who we are...

Guest Blogger: Mary S. Black

            I fell in love with the Lower Pecos region of Texas more than 20 years ago. It is dry and rugged, and can seem lonely and little travelled. The region is centered on the mouth of the Pecos River, where it enters the Rio Grande, about 50 miles west of Del Rio, Texas. There is one two-lane highway where semi-trailer trucks drive 80 mph from San Antonio to San Diego day and night. The Southern Pacific Railroad runs parallel to the highway, mostly, and long freight trains snake across the desert. Hardly anyone stops to spend time here on purpose.
            Yet for those who do, new worlds await. This land that looks so forbidding, with parched, rocky uplands, and steep stone canyons that pass in the blink of an eye when youre on the highway, has nurtured animals and people for thousands of years. The region is famous for its archaeological sites and abundance of complex, abstract rock art made by ancient human beings so long ago. Who made those paintings? What were they trying to tell us?
            Those questions spurred me to write Peyote Fire, Shaman of the Canyons, to bring those ancient people to life. In it, Deer Cloud, a young man who lived 4,000 years ago, is painting the stories of the gods on the wall of a rock shelter when the death of his grandfather changes his life. I did extensive research to portray the life ways of these people accurately, and to understand, perhaps a little, their world view. In their legends, human beings and animals were once one. Their knowledge of animals and plants was subtle and huge (especially compared to someone like me), and their respect for the living world knew no bounds. They knew how to survive in ways modern people can barely comprehend, and through that illustrate the ingenuity of all human beings.
            Today the area is popular for deer hunting and fishing on Lake Amistad, which was formed about 40 years ago by damming a section of the Rio Grande. Trophy hunters come for white-tailed deer and bass. But ranchers have given up raising cattle anymore, its just too dry. Long ago there used to be buffalo, especially in wet years, as old bones attest. The bones of more than 800 bison at the bottom of a cliff in a small box canyon are evidence of a huge buffalo jump several thousand years ago. Further under the cliff are bones of saber-toothed tiger and mammoth. The land supported these animals and many others along with the people who stalked them, and painted stories for future generations to remember, if only they would stop to listen. 


Kaye George said...

I'm sorry I never got to this area when we lived in Texas! Glad you found it, Mary.

Mary Black said...

Thanks so much for sharing, Sharman.