Inspirations Part One

It occurred to me after I started working on LOST SKY that the plot had been influenced in part by two books that I had read as a child. The first was The Dodo, The Auk and The Oryx, Vanished and Vanishing Species by Robert Silverberg, a treatise on the plight of creatures that had recently disappeared from the earth or seemed destined to do so. I remember re-reading the book many times all the while fantasizing about discovering a living Dodo or Auk.¬†Although I had never been much interested in prehistoric fauna, Silverberg’s chapters ignited what would become a melancholy fascination with extinction. Unlike dinosaurs, which seemed the stuff of nightmarish fairy tales, the plight of animals that had become extinct during modern times struck a chord with me. It was I think the first time that I stopped to think about people’s heedless actions and this new awareness kindled in me a complex mixture of sadness and pessimism.

At around the same time I read Peter S. Beagle’s, The Last Unicorn, which tells the tale of a lone unicorn searching for another of her own kind. When she leaves the safety of her forest home she is confronted by a changed world that she doesn’t recognize. I recall as a child being deeply affected by the fact that almost no one whom the unicorn encounters perceives her for what she is.

It wasn’t until I was editing the first draft of LOST SKY that I remembered those two books and suddenly realized how much they had influenced my thinking. I wonder now if I would have written LOST SKY if I hadn’t found them in my school library all those years ago.



Recently James Rasmussen, my editor at Queered Fiction, asked me to send him a bio and blurb for LOST SKY’s Press Release. He also planned to use the blurb as a teaser on the book’s back cover. The bio proved easy to write. Skipping over my childhood years, I included the college I attended (Bennington, ’85) and my career trajectory for the last quarter century, ten years working as modern dancer/choreographer followed by fifteen years running my eponymous landscape design business. I also included some details about my current home because my gardens and their surroundings provided some of the inspiration for LOST SKY.

Writing the blurb, however, posed more of a challenge. Constructing a teaser for a book like LOST SKY, which relies heavily on suspense, is tricky. It’s vital to grab the reader’s interest and imagination without giving too much of the plot away. I had already written a query blurb, but decided that it was too detailed to be used as teaser. Feeling a bit frustrated and hoping for a little inspiration, I re-read the teasers printed on the back of some of my favorite novels. This was a great help and after a few rough drafts I came up with the following:

Matthew Mason is a shy young man tormented by the memory of his mother’s death. Plagued by a crippling stammer he works at a botanic garden quietly immersed in the silent world of plants. When he learns that a mysterious relative has left him a bequest, his life takes a dramatic turn. An inexplicable series of events soon culminate in a meeting with Salal, a supernatural being whose home is both a prison and a fantastic refuge. Theirs is a relationship fraught with conflicting desires that propel Matthew on a dangerous journey that will forever change him.

Set in the 1970’s against a backdrop of exotic gardens populated with unusual creatures, LOST SKY weaves fantasy with reality to create a modern coming of age story that confronts the issues of extinction and environmental degradation facing our planet.

With some trepidation, I forwarded the teaser and bio over to James. To my relief he was quite pleased with both of them.

One more hurdle crossed!!!