Nature Writers Who Also Write Fiction: Background information when reading Where the Crawdads Sing

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Where the Crawdads Sing

by Delia Owens

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens X
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2018, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2021, 400 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Rebecca Foster
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Nature Writers Who Also Write Fiction

This article relates to Where the Crawdads Sing

Print Review

Nature WritersBefore she wrote Where the Crawdads Sing, Idaho-based Delia Owens co-authored three nature books (with her former husband, Mark Owens) based on wildlife research in Africa: Cry of the Kalahari (1984), which won the John Burroughs Medal for natural history writing, The Eye of the Elephant (1992), and Secrets of the Savanna (2006). She's not the only author who has turned to fiction after a long career in science or nature writing. Others have alternated between the two genres throughout their working life. Here are four more authors who have had similar cross-genre success.

Edward AbbeyEdward Abbey (1927‒1989) mostly wrote about the American West. He studied English and philosophy at the University of New Mexico. In 1957 he was a Wallace Stegner Creative Writing fellow at Stanford University and worked as a seasonal park ranger at Arches National Monument near Moab, Utah. During his time there he made notes for Desert Solitaire, an autobiographical nature book that wasn't published until 1968. He also worked at other national parks including Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and the Florida Everglades. Along with eight novels, the most famous of which is The Monkey Wrench Gang (1975), he published poetry and multiple nature books.

Annie DillardAnnie Dillard (1945‒ ) was born in Pittsburgh and has held academic roles at Western Washington University and Wesleyan University. In 1975 she won the Pulitzer Prize for Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, a poetic account of her explorations of the woods near Roanoke, Virginia. Since then she has written poems, memoirs and essays that combine literary criticism with travel and nature writing. In addition, she is the author of two novels, The Living (1992), about the first European settlers on the Pacific Northwest coast, and The Maytrees (2007), about a married couple in Provincetown in the years following the Second World War. The latter was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award.

Robert Michael PyleRobert Michael Pyle (1947‒ ) grew up in Colorado, where he first developed a love of butterflies. After earning a PhD in butterfly ecology from Yale University, he worked as a conservation biologist everywhere from Oregon to Papua New Guinea. He is the author of more than 20 books, all of them broadly nature-themed, including Wintergreen: Listening to the Land's Heart (1986), which won the John Burroughs Medal, and Sky Time in Gray's River: Living for Keeps in a Forgotten Place (2007), which received the National Outdoor Book Award. Like Owens, he has only recently turned to fiction after a long career in science; his debut novel, Magdalena Mountain, was published in August. Pyle lives in rural Washington.

Melissa HarrisonMelissa Harrison (1975‒ ) is an English author known equally for her fiction and nature writing. Her three novels, Clay (2013), At Hawthorn Time (2015, long-listed for the Bailey's Women's Prize), and All Among the Barley (2018), reflect on the wildlife of England's cities and countryside in different ways. She is also the author of Rain: Four Walks in English Weather (2016), which was longlisted for the Wainwright Prize; and edited the series of four seasonal anthologies issued by the Wildlife Trusts, starting with Spring in 2016. Her journalism features in British newspapers including the Times, Financial Times, and Guardian.

Edward Abbey
Robert Michael Pyle
Melissa Harrison

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Article by Rebecca Foster

This "beyond the book article" relates to Where the Crawdads Sing. It originally ran in December 2018 and has been updated for the March 2021 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

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