Monday, March 10, 2014

Tricia Fields

Tricia Fields lives in a log cabin on a small farm with her husband and two daughters. She was born in Hawaii but has spent most of her life in small town Indiana, where her husband is an investigator with the state police. A lifelong love of Mexico and the desert southwest lead to her first book, The Territory, which won the Tony Hillerman Award for Best Mystery. Her second novel, Scratchgravel Road, was followed up by her newest book, Wrecked, released this month. She is currently working on the fourth book in the series, Fire Break, featuring border town Chief of Police, Josie Gray.

Recently I asked Fields about what she was reading. Her reply:
While I’m in the final editing stages of writing one novel, I start researching for the next. My research tends to settle around the technical aspects of the topic I’m writing about; typically non fiction, and too often dry and uninspired. Not so with the book I just finished.

I never thought I would compare another writer to Edward Abbey, but Philip Connors is in the same class with his book, Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout. His style is much less confrontational, but his love for the outdoors and for contemplative silence comes through as clearly as Abbey’s own love for nature. Connors writes about his time spent as a fire lookout in the Gila National Forest in New Mexico.

What I most appreciated about Connors was his honest approach to the topic. He has the rare ability to deliver his fervent opinion about nature conservation without ever preaching a sermon. In fact, he does just the opposite as he admits his own shortcomings. He relates a story about coming across a young fawn in the woods and trying to save it. Due to his interference the fawn dies, a fact that obviously haunts him but reinforces a maxim that appears many times throughout the book: leave mother nature alone—she knows what she’s doing.

I read the book to research fire fighting and smokejumpers for my upcoming book, but I found myself lost in the story, often forgetting the technical research I was hoping to gain. What I discovered instead was a beautiful story about one man’s encounter with nature and solitude and the profound lessons that he learned.
Visit Tricia Fields's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Territory.

Writers Read: Tricia Fields (November 2011).

The Page 69 Test: Scratchgravel Road.

Writers Read: Tricia Fields (April 2013).

--Marshal Zeringue