December 14, 2018 § Leave a comment
Happy to report the release of “Diamondback Mountain,” the final previously unpublished story in the fiction collection A Field Guide to Murder & Fly Fishing. The folks at Craft have done a beautiful job and I’m happy that they’re hosting this story, which holds a great deal of personal significance for me, as explained in the author’s note. In the story, a young ski instructor at a remote hotel in 1930s Colorado falls in love with a rising Italian movie star, but fate conspires to keep the couple apart. Read the full story here.
November 4, 2018 § 3 Comments
On this key midterm election day in the USA, I’m so thrilled to be heading back (after voting, of course) to one of my favorite corners of planet Earth, an area of vast and stunning wilderness encompassing the islands, waters, and mountain ranges of the southernmost reaches of the South American continent.
We’ll be stopping over for a few days in Buenos Aires, but the real adventure begins in Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city, as we board the Stella Australis, a small (150-200 passenger) Chilean-run cruise ship, and set off into the stark and storied landscapes and seascapes of Tierra del Fuego.
We’ll visit the legendary Cape Horn, making a landing if the weather allows, and then follow in the wake of Charles Darwin’s Beagle and use zodiacs to explore various fascinating features, including fjords, tidewater glaciers, a penguin colony, and pristine high latitude temperate rainforests of this spectacular convergence of land, sea and ice, we’ll be on the lookout for whales, sea lions, penguins, albatross and many other fascinating bird species.
Next, we’ll stay in the amazing Tierra Patagonia hotel at the foot of the dramatic granite spires and horns of Torres del Paine National Park. Here we’ll have several full days of hiking and/or horseback riding amidst one of the world’s most striking landscapes, in a part of Chile with some of the lowest human population densities on the planet.
This rich and diverse ecosystem is of particular interest to us because it includes an apex predator, the elusive puma, and its primary prey, the charming and highly entertaining guanaco. What a magnificent opportunity!
This will be my fifth time on this particular National Geographic itinerary, and I’m thrilled to be heading back. One of the advantages of being a writer is that it’s a multi-disciplinary pursuit—and a trip like this provides great material.
I’m a big fan of history, geography, ecology, and biography as disciplines that enrich any travel experience, and it will be my privilege to share some of those wide-ranging interests with the National Geographic group.
Talks will focus on the history and geography of the region and the lives of explorers and adventurers who went on to make important contributions to humanity and the planet—and whose early lives were shaped by their journeys to Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. My final talk will be more personal in nature, about my parallel careers as a novelist and travel guide, the links between travel, writing, and environmental awareness, and what I call the “geographic imagination.”
All in all, it promises to be an unforgettable experience. This is a really fantastic part of the world and I highly recommend you get there if you can. I could be convinced, by the way, to organize a custom trip or two if anyone’s interested . . .
October 16, 2018 § Leave a comment
What a pleasure it was to spend part of a recent afternoon having this wide-ranging conversation with Colorado novelist Mark Stevens on The Rocky Mountain Writer podcast.
We discussed many topics of interest to writers and readers, including A Field Guide to Murder & Fly Fishing, travel and fiction, Ecuadorian volcanoes, Venezuela’s Orinoco basin, Eastern Cuba, fiction vs autobiography, the importance of place in fiction, dropping acid and pushing the bounds of objective reality, interiority and loneliness, The Grateful Dead and the Eleusinian Mysteries, fly fishing as metaphor, Ursula K. LeGuin, William Golding’s The Inheritors, Newport MFA & the Cuba Writers Program, and a recap of a talk I gave on “The Essentials of Voice” at RMFW’s Colorado Gold conference in September, 2018.
Listen to the entire podcast here. Mark also did a wonderful followup print interview here, in which we talked about life experience as a point of departure for fiction, the deep sources of story ideas, more on why I think dreams and hallucinations shouldn’t be off-limits for fiction writers, place-based writing as a response to environmental crisis, the challenge of endings, some of my favorite writers, and more. Enjoy!
November 2, 2017 § 2 Comments
It’s been a few years, and I’m thrilled to be returning to one of my favorite regions on the planet with National Geographic Expeditions’ Exploring Patagonia program. This season I’m slated to accompany two trips: one in November, 2017 and a second in January, 2018. We’ll be cruising through Tierra del Fuego in a small, expertly crewed, Chilean-owned ship, the M.V. Stella Australis. We’ll embark from Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city, round Cape Horn, and make our way up through the Magdalena Passage and the Agostini Sound, taking advantage of daily Zodiac landings to explore Hornos Island, Wulaia Bay, glaciers, and penguin colonies. Fantastic!
The Stella Australis will then drop us off in Punta Arenas, Chile, and we’ll head up to the stunning wilderness of Torres del Paine, where we’ll have daily opportunities to wander, both on foot and horseback. We can expect to see guanaco, rhea, Andean condor, many other bird species, and possibly even a puma or two. But it’s the vastness and sublime beauty of these wilderness landscapes that is the true highlight here. This part of the world is one of the least densely populated on earth, and it’s never short of inspiring!
I’m excited to be leading the educational aspects of the program in my role as National Geographic’s “featured expert.” Other than informal group interactions the main element of this task is to give a series of illustrated talks: an intro to the history and geography of the region; Charles Darwin and the Voyage of the Beagle; American artist and adventurer Rockwell Kent; Ivon Chounard, Douglas Tomkins and “los Fun Hogs.”
I’ll also be giving a brand new talk that I’m thrilled to debut in Patagonia, in which I’ll attempt to make sense of the links between travel, fiction, place-based writing, all in the context of this strange hybrid career of mine.
If you’re signed up for either of these trips, I look forward to traveling with you. If not, stay tuned: there are likely to be similar opportunities in the future!
May 23, 2017 § Leave a comment
Honored and very pleased to report that A Field Guide to Murder & Fly Fishing has been chosen as a finalist in the 2017 International Book Awards (Short Story category).
It occurs to me to mention that for a certain kind of person, this collection would make an excellent Father’s Day gift! You can order the beautiful hardcover first edition at IndieBound, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble — or request it from your favorite local bookstore! (ISBN# 978-0997452877). Read all the latest reviews, and check the upcoming events page for a reading or signing near you!
May 8, 2017 § Leave a comment
Really enjoyed this wide-ranging conversation with the perceptive Art Hutchinson at Fiction Writers Review. We discussed, among other things, extreme sports, the supernatural, foreign and historical settings, pushing the boundaries of conscious perception, and why the inner landscape is something fiction can do better than any other art. Read the whole interview here!
April 7, 2017 § Leave a comment
“What I was trying to do was first of all just to tell a good story.”
Really enjoyed my recent conversation with Vermont Public Radio’s Mitch Wertlieb! We discussed writing, fly fishing, avalanches, the Grateful Dead, and other topics related to my newly released short fiction collection, A Field Guide to Murder & Fly Fishing.
Here’s a link to the podcast and transcript of the interview. Have a listen if you’re curious: the whole thing is just under seven minutes long. And here’s a link to the collection, which can be purchased at Amazon, B & N, or by request from your favorite local bookstore!