3 Questions with Authors Sy Montgomery & Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
Two nature lovers discuss their book at the Norwich Bookstore on October 25th
This week we feature two authors - Elizabeth Marshall Thomas and Sy Montgomery - who are slated for an amazing evening exploring the natural world and discussing their new book Tamed and Untamed:Close Encounters of the Animal Kind. This event will take place at the Norwich Bookstore at 7 pm on Wednesday, October 25. NOTE: This event is free and open to the public. However, reservations are recommended as space is limited (rumor has it they are already compiling a waiting list). Please call 802-649-1114 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to save a seat and/or secure your autographed copy of Tamed and Untamed (a great holiday gift for those of you already shopping).
While writing her books for adults and children, Sy Montgomery has been chased by an angry silverback gorilla in Rwanda, hunted by a tiger in India, and swum in the Amazon. One of her 21 books The Soul of an Octopus was a National Book Award finalist. Upper Valley residents can call her neighbor as she lives close by with her husband, the writer Howard Mansfield, and their animal menagerie.
Elizabeth Marshall Thomas has observed dogs, cats, elephants, and human animals during her half-century-long career and during her childhood in Africa. Her many books include Dreaming of Lions and The Hidden Life of Dogs. Like Ms. Montgomery, Ms. Thomas lives near the Upper Valley in New Hampshire.
In an experiment in formatting, we have mingled these co-authors' individual responses to our three questions below.
1.What three books have helped shape you into the writer you are today, and why?
The three books that shaped me were (1) The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling (hated the movie) (2) The Wolves of Mount McKinley by Adolph Murie, and (3) The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway—the first two because they’re about animals and Hemingway because he changed the way people write. ~ Liz M Thomas
The Outermost House by Henry Beston. A quote from these pages helped me to define what I set out to do in chronicling the natural world. “We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals…..For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.” ~ Sy Montgomery
King Solomon’s Ring by Konrad Lorenz. I read this classic account of animal behavior as a young woman just out of college and was entranced not only by its scientific revelations but also by the respect and affection with which this imminent naturalist regarded each individual animal. ~ Sy Montgomery
The Edge of the Sea by Rachel Carson. This title introduced me to the work of an author who helped found the modern environmental movement. I bought this, her third book, as a discard at a library sale the first year I began work as a newspaper reporter. I wasn’t yet an environmental reporter, but I wanted to learn about seaweeds and snails. I became a devotee of Carson’s sharp eye and poetic voice and sought out her later works, including Silent Spring, her sweeping expose of the chemical poisoning of the natural world. ~ Sy Montgomery
2.What author (living or dead) would you most like to have a cup of coffee with and why?
The author I’d like to have a cup of coffee with is Hemingway, because he changed the way people write. ~ Liz M Thomas
Konrad Lorenz, the Nobel-Prize winning naturalist widely credited for founding the science of ethology, the study of animal behavior, one of whose books I mentioned above. And it would have to be more than a cup of coffee. How about a whole pot? There is not one animal known to humankind whose behavior I would not want to discuss with him. And--could I bring Liz? ~ Sy Montgomery
3.What books are currently on your bedside table?
The book currently on my bedside table is Among the Bone Eaters by Marcus Baynes-Rock, because Baynes-Rock is an anthropologist who studies not only a human population but also the other animals who live in conjunction with them—in this case, Ethiopians and hyenas. It’s a fabulous book! ~ Liz M Thomas
I actually don't have a bedside table; instead, right next to my side of the bed is a bookcase the length of the bedroom. But the books currently "in play" on my side at this moment are:
- A manuscript by the genius YA writer Eliot Schrefer; the bound galleys of biography of gorilla researcher Dian Fossey written by one for her former students;
- the ARE of The Man Who Climbed Trees by James Aldred;
- Immersion: The Science and Mystery of Freshwater Mussels by Abbie Landis;
- Condor Tales by Sanford Wilbur (preparation for my November expedition to meet California Condors for my next book);
- And, a copy of my husband's new book (helping him pick out his readings for the next stop on HIS book tour) Summer Over Autumn: A Small Book of Small Town Life. ~ Sy Montgomery
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