Virginia Morell is a prolific contributor to National Geographic, Science, and Smithsonian, among other publications. She is also the author of Ancestral Passions, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year; Blue Nile; and coauthor with Richard Leakey of Wildlife Wars.
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Virginia Morell discusses how an interview with Jane Goodall morphed into the book, Animal Wise, if there is an ethical component to animals' feelings, and which authors have influenced her science writing the most.
Why did you become a science writer?
As a child, I loved reading and spending time in nature. My parents were great outdoor enthusiasts, and as a family we spent weekends and every summer vacation camping, hiking and exploring the mountains and deserts of the western states. I was soon a devoted reader of field guides, learning all I could about wildlife, plants, and geology. I loved reading because I could imagine myself as the characters in my books and being carried away by the words into their lives. I loved watching birds and animals for much the same reason. Who were they? How did they live their lives? I wrote short, imaginary tales about their lives. While these were fictional tales, they were my first efforts to explain the things in the world that I thought and cared about. I actually did not set out to become a science writer; as a child I didn't realize there was such a career. I only discovered it in college, a sudden illumination: here was a way to combine all that I lovedreading...
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