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.

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.