News from Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Friday, April 29, 2011

A little howling couldn't hurt

I was reading a post on my Facebook page by Amy Shojai, our resident animal behavior expert, about why dogs howl. In my book, the Alien, I have a scene where Daniel, the Alien, learns to howl from a dog he's befriended. Let me post a bit of the scene here, because we've all had those days when a little howling would help.
The scene: Nightime, on the steps outside a camper trailer. Daniel now knows how to move in his body and how to speak, but he's alone and lost. His only friend is a Basset Hound, Buford.
There was no hope for it. He'd never go home. He was being hunted by one of his own species sent to destroy him. Buford, lying in his usual place by the steps, wagged his tail in greeting as Daniel approached and sat beside him.
From a distance, a coyote, searching for a kindred spirit, howled his loneliness, the sound drifting across the hills. The plaintive notes settled in Daniel's bones. Emotion caught in his voice. "Yeah, I know how he feels."
Rousing, Buford gave an answering call, his ululating bugle floating on the night air. With a satisfied grunt, he shook himself, and leaned against Daniel's shoulder, tilting his head to invite an ear scratching.
Daniel obliged him. "Howling feels good, huh? I could try that. I might feel better." He gathered his thoughts, centering in his gut, all his fear of abandonment and the pain of his loss. The ache grew into a black hole, churning until it welled up into his throat. His head thrown back, he let go with a long, loud howl, pulsing with grief, prolonging it until there was no more breath.
Buford howled in sympathy, the sound resonating with Daniel, where it hung in the air. In the distance, the coyote answered. Daniel tried again; this time he was louder and more heart-felt. Buford added his voice in dissonant harmony--a couple of kindred spirits in tune.
Inside the trailer, Ed looked at John. "What's all that racket?"
"Buford and Daniel are howling at the moon."
"You know, when that young man told us he wasn't from around here, Ithink that might a been a big understatement."
"I heard that."

Friday, April 22, 2011

Getting Started Again

You start a blog with great anticipation, make some posts, and then get busy with other stuff, and before you know it, six months have passed without a word and Google has almost forgotten you.
Guilty as charged, but I'm back and this time with something to say.
I've just finished a novel titled "The Alien," about a creature stranded on this planet with no clue where he is or why, but with an embedded Artificial Intelligence to explain human behavior. I had to get inside the Alien's head to write this and get rid of all my culturally conditioned beliefs, attitudes and politics so I could look at human behavior from a coldly analytical point of view.
It was a harrowing journey that created a lot of questions and no answers. my hope is, if anyone else reads this book, that it will make them examine their own beliefs. I'd like to offer some of these questions in the next few weeks to get some feed back, but fair warning: they are controversial.
The premise is that if humans don't change their ways and their attitudes toward this planet, they are in for another mass extinction like the last, very soon--within the next two years. This will be the fifth time all life except some plants has been destroyed and evolution started again. The last time we got mammals, which was good, except for humans. If there were no humans this would be a paradise.
My Alien, who will be named Daniel eventually, hatches from a seed pod left behind by an outer-space exploration, 40,000 years ago. He is an experimental clone, made from a plant. He is a plant who appears human, but has no human biology, no sex, no organs. He functions like a plant with essential oils but he has extraordinary intelligence. He starts as a sprout and grows until he creates a cocoon and emerges as a human replica. He has to learn to walk, talk, etc. with the help of his embedded Artificial Intelligence. Luckily he's in the Rainier National Forest and it's summer.
During Daniel's odyssey he must elude a female assasain sent to destroy him, deal with gangsters terrorizing a neighborhood, human trafficking, survive a gang war, elude some determined police officers and learn how to play Texas Hold'Em.
To begin, here's a short scene witha boy he's befriended at a campground . They are watching the boy's mother prepare dinner.
"What's she doing?" Daniel's eyes were wide with fear.
"My Mom? She's peeling carrots."
"Why would she do such a thing?"
"I guess 'cause we don't eat the skins. Why?"
"They've been torn from the ground by their roots. They could be suffering. How do
you know they're dead?"
"Carrots aren't alive like people. They're vegetables."
''I'm a vegetable and I'm alive."

Until next time.