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Barbara Kingsolver '77 in Alaska for Talk and to "Experience Authentic Wilderness"

June 21, 2006

barbara kingsolver.jpgJune 21, 2006, Greencastle, Ind. - Bestselling author and 1977 DePauw University graduate Barbara Kingsolver "will be in Anchorage on Thursday to host a talk for the Alaska Natural History Institutes," reports the Anchorage Daily News. "Shortly afterward, she and her family will head north for a week at Camp Denali, where Kingsolver and her biologist husband, Stephen Hopp, will lead sessions on land relationships and reading, environmental preservation, bioacoustics and bird-song research."

Cinthia Ritchie writes that Kingsolver -- the author of books including The Poisonwood Bible, Prodigal Summer and The Bean Trees -- "views this year's trip as a life-changing opportunity, a way for her two daughters to experience authentic wilderness and not, she added drily, the tiny slices offered up at many national parks. 'I want them to see a place that we enter with trepidation,' she said by phone from her Southern Appalachian home. 'And we'll stay. We'll be a part of it for a while. We'll see bears and whatever birds are nesting in the summer.'"

A zoology major at DePauw, Kingsolver notes, "My writing carries some sense of the green stuff, the rock-bottom life that is going on all the time whether we think about it or not. I belong to a minority of people. I grew up in the country. The natural world is in my book because it's in my mind. It's not a choice as much as a component of my voice."

Richie reports that "Kingsolver approaches each book as a kind of scientific project, calculating -- before she ever writes a word -- what she wants the reader to learn and what big questions will come out of the book. Once she establishes a plot, she develops her characters. 'I work on the subtleties until I know everything about my characters down to what they had for breakfast to who was the first boy she kissed,' she said.Barbara Kingsolver 2005.jpg 'The character won't seem real unless he or she comes with a history, a whole series of events. That's how you write a character.'"

A winner of the National Humanities Medal and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Barbara Kingsolver recalls writing her first book, The Bean Trees, while battling the insomnia that accompanied her pregnancy. "I didn't think anyone would read it," she tells the newspaper. "I couldn't imagine I would get it published. I didn't think of any of that. I just wrote. And then in a fit of housecleaning before the baby was born, I sent it off."

Read the complete story at the Daily News' Web site. Learn more about Barbara Kingsolver in this previous article.

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