This year, my Diary of a Citizen Scientist: Chasing Tiger Beetles and Other New Ways of Engaging the World (Oregon State University Press) was given the 2016 John Burroughs Medal for Distinguished Nature Writing. The awards started in the 1920s and recipients include Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, and Roger Tory Peterson. To be included in such a list! I am so honored and pleased.
Although considered a science and nature writer, essentially I write about whatever interests me and seems important--living in place, archaeology, flowers, butterflies, hunger, pantheism. My most recent books are eco-fictions. Knocking on Heaven's Door is a speculative novel about a Paleoterrific future, and Teresa of the New World is a young adult novel set in the dreamscape of the sixteenth century American Southwest.
This makes sense. I've spent most of my life in Southwestern deserts, where magical realism is just a synonym for reality.
My nonfiction Diary of a Citizen Scientist: Chasing Tiger Beetles and Other New Ways of Engaging the World focuses on the charismatic Western Red-bellied Tiger Beetle, as well as other citizen projects like Nature's Notebook, Mastodon Matrix, and Celebrate Urban Birds. Citizen science is an amazing world. You can transform yourself in a thousand ways, studying monarch butterflies or listening to whale songs or classifying galaxies...Diary of a Citizen Scientist has also won the WILLA Award for creative nonfiction from Women Writing the West and was a finalist in the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards. For more information, and other news, please go to my Facebook author page Sharman Apt Russell. Or my website www.sharmanaptrussell.com.
Right now I am working on a book about paradigm shifts in how we treat and prevent childhood malnutrition. I believe in this kind of range for a writer. It's all connected.
A little bit of bio: Raised in the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona, in 1981 I settled in southern New Mexico as a "back to the lander" and have stayed there ever since. I am a professor emeritus in the Humanities Department at Western New Mexico University in Silver City, as well as an associate faculty at Antioch University in Los Angeles. I received my MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Montana and my B.S. in Conservation and Natural Resources from the University of California, Berkeley. I have two children who are grown up--quite sadly and naturally, they left home.
As a teacher, my philosophy is simple: my goal is to increase a student's authority as a writer. I am here to encourage and support that authority. I can help students better revise their work. I can teach students how to talk about writing with other writers. I can help them feel more centered in who they are as writers and why they write. I can serve as an editor and mentor. I can model a writer's life. As well as teaching at WNMU and Antioch, for the last fifteen years I have been a visiting writer at universities and colleges across the country.