Sunday, May 24, 2009

Welcome to guest blogger and author, Stacey Cochran

Thanks so much, Sarah, for the opportunity to guest blog at your place. I’m currently in the midst of a 45-day blog tour to promote my new novel CLAWS. Amazon has paperback copies listed for 10.99 and an Amazon Kindle version for $1.59. I need reviews to help generate word-of-mouth and interest in the book and its subject matter.

CLAWS came out of my living in Arizona earlier this decade. For a time, I rented a small bungalow in the mountain town of Oracle up on the north side of the Santa Catalina Mountains. Oracle, Arizona is a sleepy little town of about 2,000 folks, perched some 4,500 feet above sea level. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Coolidge some 60 miles northward. To the west, Tucson’s northern edge sprawls through a valley (and along the mountain foothills) up toward Catalina. From Oracle, the ten-mile-wide swath of development looks like a kind of disease spreading northward over the land.

In the short time that I lived there, two new “master-planned” golf course communities (SaddleBrooke and “The Preserve”) went up in what was previously high-country desert wilderness, and homes quickly replaced the natural landscape.

Coincidentally a careless camper’s man-made wildfire burned nearly 250,000 acres in the Santa Catalinas in 2003, and the following year several Tucson elementary schools had to be closed periodically because of mountain lions stalking children.

Ordinarily, mountain lions tend to avoid humans, but the wildfire had destroyed most of the big cat’s natural habitat. This forced the cougar population into areas it might not have ventured otherwise and because housing developments were going up almost monthly in this wilderness area, the result was a tragedy waiting to happen.

Once I began doing research, I saw that the problem was more than a regional anomaly. California had seen an increase in cougar attacks on humans over the past decade, and the animals were being spotted in states like Arkansas, Michigan, Illinois, and North Carolina were authorities had thought they were extinct.

The issues of wildlife management, land conservation, and real estate development are inextricably intertwined, and the decisions legislators make affect human (and cougar) lives. It’s a contentious issue that generates heated debate.

That said, I saw it as a way to write a suspenseful, timely novel that made the land one of its central characters.

My hope is that folks will get this when they read it. My challenge was to write CLAWS in a way that didn’t sermonize the issue, nor treat it glibly. One of the more interesting comments from early readers was that in the novel you could argue who was responsible for the problem.

I hope you’ll take the time to check out CLAWS and write a review at or on your blog. The subject is too important to ignore, and I think healthy discussion can lead to decisions regarding the right course of action.

I appreciate your time and consideration, and I hope you’ll enjoy the novel. Thanks so much, Sarah and friends.