Interviewing Stacey Cochran

Dear Reader,

I’d like to introduce you to Stacey Cochran, my guest from the West today at Worderella Writes.

He was kind enough to answer my three questions with some excellent answers, so don’t let me keep you. Read on!

Learn more about Stacey

Stacey Cochran was born in the Carolinas, where his family traces its roots to the mid 1800s. In 1998 he was selected as a finalist in the Dell Magazines undergraduate fiction competition, and he made his first professional short story sale to CutBank in 2001. In 2004, he was selected as a finalist in the St. Martin’s Press/PWA Best First Private Eye Novel Contest. He lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with his wife Dr. Susan K. Miller-Cochran and their son Sam, and he teaches writing at North Carolina State University. His books include The Colorado Sequence, Amber Page, CLAWS, and CLAWS 2.

How do you transform your passion into focused research?

Thanks so much for hosting me today.

To answer your question, it really just takes a ton of persistence. I suppose that deep down a writer must believe that what he/she has to say matters. We probably all start from that premise. In the case of the CLAWS books, it started with that belief and a curiosity about the area in which I lived.

See I moved to Arizona in 2001 from North Carolina, and the landscape out West was so different from what I’d known before that I immersed myself in it. Around 2003 and 2004, a number of mountain lion stalkings began popping up in the news in Tucson, and I thought that it would make for an interesting topic for a novel.

How do you translate your research into an entertaining narrative?

Well, it all starts with character. First I had to imagine who would be my guide through the novel… a novel about mountain lions. The logical answer was a wildlife biologist. I settled on Dr. Angie Rippard because “Rippard” was the name of my favorite high school English teacher, and it seemed to fit the story.

I followed the story template — the plot structure, if you will — of Jaws. But instead of an ocean-going adventure, CLAWS was set in the desert high country of Arizona.

How do you sneak an underlying message into your entertaining narrative?

The message in CLAWS is pretty direct. Unregulated and uncontrolled real estate development into wilderness lands in the American West is harmful to the environment. I didn’t hide the message at all. The villain of the story is not the mountain lion; the villain is the ruthless real estate developer who builds golf course communities on the sides of previously virgin mountains.

The tragedy is that this is what has happened all over Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico, and that there’s been little progress to stop it.

Whether nature will fight back as it does in CLAWS and CLAWS 2 remains to be seen. What’s more likely to occur is that we will keep poisoning our atmosphere with CO2 and our oceans with mercury, and that our physical health (and our children’s health) will continue to deteriorate. Overpopulation of our planet is a real and serious stress on our environment, and our environment will continue to respond to that stress in ways that affect our health unless we make massive, lasting policy changes.

The CLAWS books are meant to stir that conversation into being.

Thank you to Stacey for providing great answers to some tough questions! Make sure you check out his CLAWS books, as well as other books published by the Stacey Cochran publishing arm.

Interested in being interviewed?

I’d love to profile you on Worderella Writes, especially if you are a self-publishing author in need of some marketing help. All I ask is that you email answers to the following three questions, along with a requested posting date. I look forward to learning more about you and your upcoming projects!

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