I just started reading Delia Owens’ book, Where the Crawdads Sing. The book has spent weeks at the top of the New York Times bestseller list. However, what spurred me to open the book was an interview of the author about the roots of her rich, textured setting.
Where the Crawdads Sing is the tale of a young girl growing up essentially alone in the remote marshes along the coast of North Carolina. When a handsome nearby town resident is found murdered in the marshes, Kya is the chief suspect. While the plot sounds compelling, what draws the reader in is the gorgeous descriptive language. Owens knows wilderness.
When Owens was in her twenties, she and her then-husband lived in Africa caring for wild animals. Her Ph.D in animal behavior prepared her for wildlife care. Much of the time, Owens and her then-husband were the only humans for hundreds of miles.
Owen commented the inspiration for her book came from spending everyday with lions, elephants and baboons. She said that we are not so different in our behavior from the tight female packs or the strutting male baboons.
Owens now lives in a remote corner of northern Idaho. The view out her window is of towering mountains. But, Owens lives her alone. She says she gets so lonely sometimes that it feels hard to breath. She values her solitude. Her first novel is an “ode to the outdoors” that reveals “the affect loneliness can have on a person”.
As a reader, I find what shines through in Owens’ lush landscape is the power of standing still in middle of nature. Kya, the main character, is comforted and enveloped by her surroundings. Birds, minnows and reeds come to life in the mind of the reader thanks to Owens’ quiet attention to detail. Writers can learn much from Owens about immersing oneself to tell a worthy story.