Tag Archives: author interview

Writing Becomes…Jeffrey Herrington (Eaton)

 

JeffHerrington_MBMiami-cover-500          JeffHerrington_MBManhattan-cover-500

Great storytellers are my favorite people – they have energy and a curiosity for life; they are students of human nature and what drives behavior; and they have a gift for crafting a tale that keeps one transfixed.

That’s probably why Jeff Herrington is one of my favorite storytellers. The first time I met Jeff, I was a twenty-something corporate communicator working for NCR’s Employee Communications team in Dayton.  Jeff had flown in from Dallas to do a writing workshop that was filled with practical examples and best practices on how to reach and keep the attention of our readers. Jeff, even then, was at the top of his game, having done amazing projects for Fortune 500 clients like Whirlpool. His session kept my co-workers and I completely engaged. He knew the way to communicate with impact was through story.

It was no surprise to me that he has applied his considerable writing chops to the realm of novel writing, penning two mystery thrillers, Murder Becomes Manhattan and more recently, Murder Becomes Miami under his pen name Jeffrey Eaton.

The books are branded as “A Dalton Lee Mystery” – in honor of his quirky main character, a highly astute architect with a past. (By the way, Jeff, an architecture buff, has filled his books with wonderful insights on some of New York City’s and Miami’s most famous buildings).   I found his premise and plot compelling – and the characters fun and very real. His details on the setting were so authentic that I was transported into the middle of the Big Apple. (In fact, readers can get acquainted with not only the murder scenes in his book, but also the detectives, victims and suspects on his well-crafted book page, http://www.murdermanhattan.com.)

I reached out to Jeff to find out more about his books, what he’s learned on the path to published author, how to build audience and whether his corporate communications career has helped or hurt him along the way.  His responses, provided lightning fast after I shot the questions over to him, will enlighten the veteran and the virgin writer. Thanks for generously sharing your gifts, Jeff!

Q. What sparked your idea for your mystery thriller series?

Jeff: For some reason, I have always been drawn to stories of intrigue. I was a big fan of The Hardy Boys Mystery Series between ages 7 -12. After that, I got hooked on Agatha Christie’s novels. So writing mysteries has always been lurking in the back of my mind as something I’d like to do.

Then, a few years ago, I was in a bookstore and saw Sue Grafton’s series using the alphabet (A is for Alibi) and I thought, “What a gig!” It got me to thinking about how I might create a similar but different series and the idea of having each novel set in a different global location, but all starting with the letter ‘M’ was born.

Q. What was the most challenging and gratifying aspect to seeing your idea become a published book? What would you like to have done differently the first time (publishing or writing lesson to share with other aspiring authors)?

 

Jeff: The most challenging aspect was (and continues to be) finding the time to market the books. Although I enjoy marketing, I’m not terribly comfortable with guerilla marketing but these days you really have to do that to get noticed in a crowd. It pays off — we spend a week marketing heavily and see sales climb as a result, but then they drop flat again the minute you stop. It’s relentless.

The most gratifying thing is seeing the reviews. Both “Murder Becomes Manhattan” and “Murder Becomes Miami” have average ratings above 4.0 out of 5. And some people are really really hooked on the series. That’s exciting — to know I have created something people really cannot wait to read on the airplane, or once they get to the pool at their hotel in Cancun.

Q. I know you are an accomplished corporate writer and lecturer who has traveled extensively. How has your career as a corporate communicator served you well as you crossed into the realm of book author?

Jeff: Great question. The downside is that, in corporate PR, we mostly write to the AP Stylebook. But in the world of fiction we write to the Chicago Manual of Style. Thank heavens I have an editor grounded in that!  The positive affect is that corporate communication emphasizes a need to get to the point quickly. I have adopted that in both books. You are very much dropped into the action from the get-go. Many readers have told me they find the books exciting in that way. They are ushered into the book pretty quickly and have to hold on from there.

Q. I noticed that you opted to not use your real name for your novels. What made you go in that direction?

Jeff: Three factors:  A) The desire for privacy and the opportunity to write other more serious books later under my real name if I choose B) The name Eaton fits on a book cover much more easily than does Herrington.  C) My father was a dancer in vaudeville and motion pictures back in the 1930s. His stage name was Jerry Eaton, so I chose Eaton as my ‘stage name’ as an homage to him.

Q. Who is your favorite character in each of your books and why?

 

Jeff: There is a team of architects/detectives in my books who work on solving the murders. However, my readers overwhelmingly seem to gravitate toward Dalton Lee, the head of the architecture firm and the main detective in the books. However, he has also become my favorite as well. Poor Dalton is 40ish and already grappling with the early stages of mid-life crisis. He has such a great heart but he is such a social oaf at times. Then there is the fact that statues, department store mannequins, even taxicab ashtrays have conversations with him. I think people find his quirkiness appealing, especially since, despite all of his goofiness, he is the genius who always solves the crime.

Q. Do you think writing a series is the wave of the future for authors? Do you find it’s an effective way to build audience?

 

Jeff: Certainly in the mystery genre it is. Most people are telling me they like the Miami book more than Manhattan, but mostly because it is like reconnecting with old friends and seeing story lines that piqued your interest in the first book evolve in the next, and so on.

From an author’s standpoint, it is a wise thing to do, for the maxim is you always sell more of your first book when the second book comes out, and so on. That has been the case for me, and on those days when we sell just 2 books, invariably it is one copy of one title and one copy of the other, which tells me one person likely bought both. Series build income, a following and back sales in a way individual stories don’t.

Q. What city or cities will you be tackling next for a setting to your thriller series?

 

Jeff: The next book is set in London. “But London doesn’t start with an ‘M’, Jeff” you say. You are right, however the entire book will be set in London’s most posh neighborhood, Mayfair. So there you go. The other cities and their order are a secret (the next location always gets revealed at the end of a current book), but I can say that places/events like Madrid, Milan, Malibu, Myanmar, Monte Carlo, Moscow and Mardi Gras are all in the running.

 

Q. What has been the most surprising reader feedback you’ve received to date?

Jeff: One person who REALLY did not like Manhattan said I had completely lost her when she hit the part that said the identities of certain hostages were made known to their family members when the captors sent those family members small body parts of the person.  “Yeah right,” she said, or something to that effect. And yet, that plot line is straight out of the headlines, has happened in real life many times over the past 10 years. I guess it is good that we don’t want to believe the world can be really that gruesome. But it is reality, and I’ve been surprised by a few people (very few) who haven’t been able to believe some of the very real things that take place in my books.

Q. How important is it to build audience via social media? What tactics and platforms have worked best for the type of readers you are trying to attract?

 

Jeff: Social media is tough. I have a cohort who is a master at it and he knocks things out all over the place all the time. We get lots of likes, followers etc. But getting that to translate into sales is not easy. To be honest, I find personal appearances to be far more helpful than social media right now. I give a talk at a book club or a bookstore and the books fly off the shelves.

That said, all it takes is one key connected person raving about your books to their friends on social media and the next thing you know you are a smash sensation. There are certain days where we sell 3, 5, 8 copies of the books and I know someone on social media somewhere must have said something to prompt those sales because I haven’t made a personal appearance that week.

About Jeff Herrington

JeffHerrington_AuthorPhotoJeff Herrington is the author of two novels, Murder Becomes Manhattan and Murder Becomes Miami under the pen name, Jeffrey Eaton. He is also the founder and president of Jeff Herrington Communications, a Dallas-based writing coaching and consulting company. He offers a wide range of workshops, training communication teams on their writing and their ability to come up with innovative content approaches.

A few of his workshop offerings include:

  • Writing for the Web
  • Effective Feature Articles and Case Studies
  • Effective Organizational Blogs
  • Making Your Writing More Powerful
  • Making Your Writing More Professional
  • Innovative Editorial Techniques

As a writer, Jeff has traveled to more than 45 countries on five continents as a writer for the internal and external publications of IBM, AT&T, Whirlpool, Baxter Healthcare and John Deere, among many other companies. Learn more about Jeff Herrington Communications at www.jeffherrington.com.

To read excerpts from Jeff’s books, visit his author pages:

Guest Blog: Jameson Gregg Shares Excerpt from his Comic Novel

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In today’s final post focused on the craft of humor writing, The Writing Well is delighted to spotlight the work of Jameson Gregg. His just-released book, Luck Be a Chicken (Deeds Publishing), a comedic novel about south Georgia rednecks scrapin’ by in their wheel-estate, is earning rave reviews.  Cassandra King, New York Times’ bestselling author, writes:  “Anything can happen, and does, in this rollicking farce, set in a sleepy south Georgia town where the Sweat family resides in the Garden of Eden Trailer Park. Jesus returns to earth as a Mexican forklift driver at the Majestic Chicken Plant, a NASCAR-loving redneck named Butterbean takes on corporate corruption, and the scales of justice swing every-which-way. If reading Luck Be A Chicken doesn’t make you laugh out loud at least a dozen times, you owe me an RC Cola and a Moonpie.”

According to Amazon reviewer MaryLou Cheatham,  “Jameson Gregg mixes raw realism and compassion with brazen satire in Luck Be A Chicken. He paints the rough side of life with comic relief. Farce and embellishment live on the top drawer of his humor toolbox.  The sensory impact, the humor when it is least expected, and the nail-biting anxiety propel the rapid turning of pages to the end.”

The excerpt below captures the humor of this talented Southern storyteller.

“I got a man here to drive for you. His name is Hay-Seuss.”

The well-postured man of medium height was light skinned for a Latino. His black hair skimmed his shoulders, and a thick beard hedged his chin. His clothes were threadbare but clean.

The man smiled and nodded as Bean looked him up and down. “How you spell that?”

“’Fraid he don’t speak too much English,” Wilbur said. “He spells it J-e-s-u-s. Like in the Bible.”

“You mean Jesus is coming to work at Majestic Chicken?”

“He ain’t Jesus,” Wilbur said. “He’s Hay-suess. I wish he was Jesus.”

“How you make a ‘Hay’ out a ‘J’?”

“Beats me, Sweat, take it up with Mexico. Job center claims he can drive a lift. All you got to do is show him what to do.”

“Guess I’ll have to show him ’cause I damn sure can’t tell him, now can I? How long has he been drivin’?”

“I don’t know, Bean, ask him. You need to finish cleanin’ cause we’re probably going live after lunch. I got to go.” Wilbur whirled and shuffled away.

Bean sized up Jesús. Clear, intelligent eyes. Sincere and agree¬able attitude. Seemed anxious to work. Bean felt an odd compul¬sion to show this man respect.

“Buenos días. Mi nombre es Butterbean Sweat. Mucho gusto. ¿Es usted de Mèxico?”

“Sí, Señor Sweat. Soy de Veracruz.”

Bean remembered last week’s special at Amigo Gordo with great fondness—Chili Rellenos del Veracruz. This feller cain’t be all bad.

Bean walked him over to the second Nissan forklift and point¬ed. “You know how to drive this?”

Bean pretended to hold his hands on the wheel, turning left and right.

“Sí, Señor Sweat.”

Bean released a key from his belt ring and tossed it to the new man, pointed to an open area,

and twirled his wrist. “Drive around this area and do some stop-and-goes and turn. Compre¬hend-o?”

“Sí.”

In seamless movements, Jesús mounted and cranked her. She beeped when he threw her into reverse then she glided like an ice dancer, cutting flawless geometric, loop-de-loop patterns, backward and forward, curving in perfect concentric circles.

Bean’s jaw dropped. The smoothest thing I ever seen on a forklift. A tear welled up.

Jesús glided the lift beside Bean, stepped down, and nodded.

Bean tried to gather his composure. He started to speak, stopped himself, and stood in awkward silence. Finally he stepped close to Jesús and whispered. “Are you really Jesus? I mean

Christ, like in the Bible, who come back like You said You would?”

Jesús smiled and shrugged. “No comprendo.”

“Come on, you can tell me. I won’t tell nobody. I always knowed You was real. Really, I swear I did. I knowed You’d sneak back when we wasn’t watchin’, but I didn’t think You’d be drivin’ no forklift in a chicken plant.”

Jesús shook his head. “No comprendo, Señor Sweat.”

Bean studied genuine confusion in the man’s face. The real Jesus would know English, I’m purty sure. He walked Jesús through the work routine in Spanglish then heard Wilbur’s voice and turned.

___________________

About Jameson Gregg

Jameson Gregg

Jameson Gregg

Jameson Gregg has worked as a lawyer for two decades, most recently practicing business, corporate, banking and real estate in Georgia’s second-oldest law firm before leaving the legal field to devote himself to writing full time.

His 2014 debut novel, Luck Be a Chicken, won first place in the annual Northeast Georgia Writers’ Club competition.  Jameson is a member of the Atlanta Writers’ Club, the Northeast Georgia Writers’ Club and the Stonepile Writers’ Group.

A native of Mississippi who now resides in the North Georgia Mountains, Jameson has a BBA from the University of Mississippi and a JD from the Mississippi College School of Law.

Check out his recent author interview on Gainesville, Ga., radio.

Meet Jennifer McQuiston: CDC Scientist-turned NYT-Bestselling Historical Romance Author

JenniferMcQuistPhotoAtlanta has its share of talented writers, especially in the romance genre, as noted by the number of Georgia Romance Writers chapter members who have received the coveted Maggie Awards that frequently lead to successful publishing careers with major houses.

In 2011, Jennifer McQuiston earned her first Maggie in the unpublished category. Within two years, she would be a New York Times bestselling romance novelist with Avon nominated for the 2013 RT Reviewer’s Choice Award for best First Historical Romance for her novel, What Happens in Scotland

MoMM FinalI recently caught up with Jennifer at the book signing for her third novel, Moonlight on My Mind.  A mother and veterinarian by training, Jennifer has managed to balance her new literary career with motherhood and demanding work as an infectious disease scientist at CDC.  I  literally “inhaled” two of her three Victorian era novels, including her second novel, Summer is for Lovers, in a matter of a few weeks, and can’t wait for her next series.  The vitality and irreverence of her heroines are unforgettable, as are the circumstances they find themselves in.  The Writing Well is proud to showcase Jennifer and her writing journey below.

Q. How did a veterinarian and CDC scientist become a historical romance novelist? You don’t normally associate the two types of professions together.

Jennifer: When I sat down to write my first book, it evolved as sort of a “see if I can” experiment, and what emerged was a romance set in a historical setting. (It sucked, by the way. In case you were wondering.)
But the why of it is more difficult to explain. Although I had dabbled a bit in flash fiction and short stories with a contemporary feel, my first attempt to write a book was unapologetically a historical romance. Looking back, I think it is because the rhythm of it felt most natural to me. I had always loved to read historical romance, and in fact, it was the process of discovering amazing historical romance authors like Madeline Hunter that made me first want to try my hand at writing anything.
With respect to the seemingly incongruous nature of my professions, I can only point to a scientist’s great love of research as a natural fit for the research required to craft believable historical fiction. And as for the romance? I spend my days writing the most tedious scientific articles imaginable… I would even welcome the opportunity to write limericks as an escape!

There one was a highly trained vet
Who never practiced on a pet
She worked as a fed
And was very well read
Happy endings were always a sure bet.

Q. Your heroines in at least your last two books are all independent, spirited women who often are misunderstood by the society and the men that they eventually love. What do you hope readers “get” about these strong characters who defy stereotypes or limited views of what they can accomplish?

Jennifer:  So many historical romance authors take heat for writing stories with romance at its core—as though that is something incompatible with a strong, modern woman! Rubbish, I say. I am an unapologetic feminist, and have never felt that my gender was something I needed to “overcome”, either professionally or emotionally. It was refreshing to arrive in veterinary school waaaaay back in 1993 and realize that 80% of my class was female, and that all of us were going to wrestle pigs and palpate cattle. And it is refreshing now to meet fellow romance authors and realize that 90% of them are more extreme feminists than I am.
History is full of examples of women who challenged feminine stereotypes, from Joan of Arc to Florence Nightingale. While they may not be “typical” women, they were real, and by studying and sometimes emulating them, I have been able to create romance heroines that are firmly anchored in their era, but that contemporary readers of historical romance can root for.

Modern notions of feminism do create enormous conflict in the Victorian era. For example, if I make my heroine a swimmer (as I did in Summer is for Lovers), in an era where a woman could only enjoy the ocean in archaic and frankly terrifying bathing machines, I have beautiful, instant conflict for my story.

But conflict is a good thing in fiction, so it works out well for me.

Q. I’ve heard from other novelists that “voice” is often the hardest to master but is one of the most critical attributes of strong storytelling. Do you agree? How would you describe your narrative voice?

Jennifer: Voice is something that belongs uniquely to each author, and I have to say, it didn’t sync into place for me until my second attempt to write a book. (I wrote 5 before I finally got published, if you would like to count along). Workshops and conferences help you sort out form and function, and genre fiction can have certain elements that must be there that you can learn and execute as a matter of course (i.e., the requisite happy ending for Romance).
But nothing can teach an author their voice. You have to discover it, not learn it, and there is no way to do it but time, luck, and repetition.
It is funny, but I am not sure I CAN describe my narrative voice. I know I can point out specific differences from the rhythm of my writing versus other writers. I favor certain combinations of rhetorical devices, and love rich word choices (I LOVE words. Sometimes my critique partners have to call me down). I also believe my voice captures my strong sense of humor, and reviewers and readers often say my voice is witty, snarky, and irreverent at times.
It figures…my sarcasm got me into oh-so-much trouble in high school, but now it is at least earning me a bit of a paycheck.
Q. You mentioned at your book signing that your favorite novel was your first – can you explain why?

How do I explain What Happens in Scotland, and describe what it whathappensscotlandecoverhas done for me and my family?

1) It was the FIFTH book I had written, and all the other had gotten “No’s”, so I was beginning to wonder if I was going to be able to “do” this thing.

2) The plot for the book hit me like a thunderbolt (I was turning 40 and planning a party with close friends in Vegas). I was watching the Hangover one night and thought, “Wow. There are certain elements of this that would totally make an original and fun historical romance.” The idea was so high-concept and I was so excited to write it, it poured out of me in only 3 months (no, that isn’t normal. Who do you think I am???)

3) It immediately felt different to me. Better than anything else I had written. Editors who had roundly rejected me for past book submissions thought so too, and it sold at auction a week after going out. So in many ways, it was a total fairy tale for me. And with the advance from that sale, I was able to buy my kids a freaking pony. Enough said.

4) Even though it was a polarizing book (reviewers either loved it or hated it), it generated a lot of buzz, and I can now claim “NYT Bestseller” on my list of accomplishments.
So yeah… totally my favorite book. Later books are almost certainly better written. And I enjoy the process of plotting new books a lot. But you never forget your first love…

Q. Do you have a favorite time period and geography to place your characters? If so, what makes that period and/or place so compelling to you?

Jennifer: My preferred time period to write about (and read about) is definitely the Victorian era. I find it so much more fascinating than the narrowly viewed Regency period. From 1840-1890, the world was changing in a head-spinning way. Railways replaced coaches, new money moved in, Americans went abroad, and medicine and science were growing by leaps and bounds (spurred by discoveries like anesthesia, the mode of transmission of cholera, and eventually germ theory). So much more interesting than waltzing!
To date, my stories have been British-set, but I do like to move them around. What Happens in Scotland is based in the Scottish Highlands. Summer is for Lovers is set in the Victorian seaside resort of Brighton, and Moonlight on My Mind is based largely in the Yorkshire countryside. My new series is heading to London (see question #6 below).

I also have a simmering idea for a west-Africa set missionary story based in the mid-Victorian era, but we’ll see if I ever get to write that!

Q. How do you approach period research to ensure your characters’ world is authentic? Any research tips for other writers with a bent toward historical settings?

Jennifer: Simply because it fascinated me, I had done a good deal of reading and background research on the early Victorian era even before I tried to write my first book. Historical settings can be hard, and if you are a perfectionist, be warned: worrying TOO much about the details can sometimes derail the story. For what I write (historical romance), the developing love story needs to be the actual heart of the book. For me, the key is to go into detail about things I DO know well (chamber pots, horses, historical methods of birth control), and not dwell on things that could trip me up (such as when door knobs were officially invented…I have very differing accounts from very different sources, and have no idea which to believe!)
My biggest tip is, whenever possible, read primary sources. I have read a lot of medical texts from the 1850’s, and I also have a huge, room-sized map of London from 1851 that I use to place me in that city for my current works in progress. And given that photography was invented in the Victorian era, I LOVE looking at old photographs.

Q. Congrats on getting another three-book deal from Avon – any hints on what you have planned next in terms of story lines?

Jennifer:  Thank you so much! I am terribly fortunate to have been given these opportunities, and I am excited to write a new series, tentatively known as “The Seduction Diaries”. The series follows two sisters and a brother as they navigate London Society on their own terms.
I am nearly finished with book #1 in the series, which is called “Diary of an Accidental Wallflower”, and it has some echoes of “Mean Girls” in it. Briefly, the reigning “It” girl in London sprains her ankle on the eve of the biggest ball of the year and is relegated to the (gasp!) wallflower line, where she eventually discovers there is more to life than dancing, and more to falling in love than dukes.
Q. Who are your favorite writers? Where do you go online for writing “inspiration”?

Jennifer: There are so many amazing authors, and when I’m not actively writing, I am still a voracious reader. Historical authors on my auto-buy list include Meredith Duran, Joanna Bourne, Julia Quinn, Sarah MacLean, Julie Anne Long, Cecilia Grant, Courtney Milan (do you want me to keep going? Because I totally can…) My critique partners are also fantastic writers…shouts out to Romily Bernard, Tracy Brogan, Kimberly Kincaid, Sally Kilpatrick, and Alyssa Alexander!

For even more local-to-Atlanta inspiration, my favorite writers all gather at a Norcross hotel once a month for Georgia Romance Writers. I always leave their meetings feeling energized and ready to tackle the whole industry!

Dashing DuchessesOnline writing inspiration… I love reading Smart Bitches/Trashy Books (even if they gave What Happens in Scotland a hell of a snarky review). I blog with a group of fantastic historical authors called the Dashing Duchesses, and every one of those ladies is an inspiration. And of course, there is nothing more inspiring than connecting with readers and other authors.I love seeing folks on Facebook (www.facebook.com/jennifermcquistonauthor) and Twitter (@jenmcqwrites).

Linda Marsa: Bringing the Reality of a Warming Planet to Life on the Page

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Books, books, books. Labor Day weekend 2013 for me was all about celebrating authors and their gift to us — storytelling in all its forms.

I attended my first Decatur Book Festival, beginning Friday with the festival’s well-organized Writers Conference, which I will blog about in more detail soon. It concluded with two great Science track author talks on Sunday, including a presentation by Linda Marsa, author of Fevered:  Why A Hotter Planet Will Hurt Our Health and How We Can Save Ourselves.

This is not an abstract, jargon-filled climate change book; it’s a no-holds-barred examination of what she calls the “most critical issue affecting our very survival in the coming century.”

In more than two decades as a journalist, Linda considers this book to be the most important story she’s ever covered. I believe her.

Linda and I have a common passion – public health writing. I’ve spent 13 years as a freelance writer for CDC; she’s a contributing editor for Discover, where she regularly reports on science, medicine and health trends. We met “virtually” earlier this year when I was looking for editorial help with a client project.

Not surprisingly, Linda’s major reporting focus has been on climate change. Her December 2010 Discover Magazine cover story, “The Hot Zone — A Warming Planet’s Rising Tide of Disaster,” was the springboard for her 2012 book, The Future of Water:  Going to Extremes, that dealt with climate change in Australia and was selected for inclusion in the anthology, “The Best American Science Writing, 2012.”

“I don’t have a science background at all–I was an English major in college back in the Stone Age when women didn’t go into science,” Linda tells me. “I fell into science writing about 20 years ago and discovered I had a knack for it. I think my lack of science background has been a blessing and a curse. Because I have to laboriously unpack the material to understand it myself, I think I might be better at explaining it then someone who is steeped in it and writes above the head of the average reader. But it can be difficult to decipher–and be accurate!–when you don’t have that background.”

Linda’s devotion to getting the science right while crafting a narrative that engages people — is her gift in Fevered. She balances expert interviews from leading scientists, climatologists and public health practitioners, with real-world examples of climate change’s disruptive force pulled from today’s news headlines.

One of her more credible sources is not an environmental scientist, but a British physician who has devoted his career to the “silent emergency” of infant and maternal mortality in poor countries. Dr. Anthony Costello, head of University College of London’s Institute for Global Health, said, “Climate change is the most important public health threat of the 21st Century,” and predicted, “Unless this challenge finds it sway to the top of the international health agenda, this century could be a disaster movie without a happy ending.”

The message in Fevered is indisputable: Global Warming is here and is the biggest threat to human survival.  “Rising temperatures could trigger pestilence, drought-induced food shortages, raging firestorms, massive migrations, political instability and wars,” writes Linda.

During her talk, this California author observed that most Americans see Global Warming as an abstract concept — “something that is going to happen in 20 or 30 years.” But, it’s already happening and not in far-flung places but right here at home, from the hot weather and intense rains and hurricanes exploding across the country to the emergence of exotic diseases such as Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome that claimed two lives of people who visited Yosemite National Park last summer, and West Nile Virus, where more than 1,400 people have died in the U.S. since it was first detected in New York City in 1999. Rising temperatures that trap carbonates in the air has also led to spiraling rates of asthma and allergies, as well as spikes in heatstroke-related deaths.

A key culprit for the heating planet is no surprise: the staggering amount of CO2 being dumped into the atmosphere. Linda noted that the planet has headed up 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the Industrial Revolution, a very significant development, as Linda shares below in an expanded Q&A interview with The Writing Well.

LindaMarsa

Author Linda Marsa right before her talk at the Decatur Book Festival.

Q. What locations did you visit to help understand the effects of global warming?

I want to various places around the country that are already feeling the effects of a warming planet, including New Orleans, New York, California’s Central Valley, the SF Bay Area, and Long Beach. I also went to cities that are pioneering model programs that will smooth the path to a cleaner, greener, more sustainable future, like Vancouver, Seattle, and Orange County, California, which is a world leader in water management.

Q. What was the most challenging aspect of working on Fevered?

There were two very challenging aspects. I had to come up to speed on some very complicated science, including climatology, atmospheric physics, oceanic currents, farming techniques, water management history and strategies, and migratory patterns of disease vectors, like mosquitoes and ticks. Then I had to figure a way of describing all these things that was accessible to the general public. The other difficult piece was finding ways to bring climate change–which can be abstract science–to life and illuminate the harsh reality of what life will be like on a warming planet with stories about real people who were already feeling the effects of climate change here in the U.S. (and in Australia).

 Q Which scientific / public health sources did you find most compelling in writing this book? 

I stumbled across NASA research that indicated that the 1930s Dust Bowls were caused by just a one degree change in the surface temperatures of the oceans. That’s when I realized I had a book because this illuminated the fact that just a one degree change in the weather can have far reaching consequences. There were many public health officials, especially at the CDC, who were very helpful. I think the stories of the heroic doctors in New Orleans–who worked round the clock in unimaginable conditions to keep their patients alive–were incredibly compelling.

Q. What would you like to see happen as a result of your book?

People need to understand the climate change is real, it is happening and it is affecting all of us, even here in the U.S. I’d like to see people become motivated to dramatically reduce their carbon footprints, and get active and get involved to smooth the path to a cleaner, greener, healthier future before it is too late.