By Pamela Beason
Like most mature adults, I have experienced the gain of more circumference than height in recent years, and I didn’t have the height to begin with. I’m five feet tall if I stand up really straight. (Well, probably not even that now, but I’m too afraid to measure.)
I’ve always loved the natural world, and always want to experience it whenever I can. These days, however, I spend a lot of hours working on my mysteries, especially my Sam Westin series. My protagonist, Summer “Sam” Westin, is a wildlife biologist who barely manages to patch together a living writing for conservation groups and outdoor adventure e-zines. All the books involve conflicts on public lands: national forests, parks, and marine conservation areas. Because I have done a lot of hiking and kayaking and snowshoeing and scuba diving, the character “Sam” and author Pam started off in very similar stages of life, which makes all these stories easy and fun to write. Working on that series saves me from becoming a completely spherical shape.
As the years roll on, author Pam is slowing down more than character Sam, but I still must have adventures to write about. I get all my best ideas out in the wild. I purposefully moved to a place where outdoor recreation and conservation of wild areas are valued: Bellingham, Washington. I belong to a hiking club and a kayaking club. There’s plenty of motivation to “get out there” when your name is on the calendar to lead an outing. Rolling over and going back to sleep is simply not an option when you know fifteen people will be pacing in the parking lot and asking where the heck you are if you don’t show up.
I’m not one of those writers who can hammer out X number of words per day. Well, I could, but I know from experience the majority of those words will be crap if I simply sit and type instead of being “in the zone.” So whenever I get stuck or feel that my brain is going around in circles (which is, unfortunately, often), I have two remedies: if it’s after dark, I watch a movie that has the tone I’m trying to achieve in my writing; if it’s daylight, I hit the local walking trails by myself. I find that when I’m in motion and the only distractions are birds and trees and the occasional deer, the solutions to my writing dilemmas just come.
I have had many titles over the years: a geological research technician, a Spanish teacher, a mechanical/electrical/architectural drafter, a freelance technical writer/editor, a managing editor in a multimedia department, a private investigator, and now (finally) a successful mystery author. As well as the outdoor activities mentioned above, I’ve done judo and fencing, water aerobics, Zumba, and western line dancing.
Obviously, I prize a multitude of experiences over becoming an expert at anything. I adore animals both wild and tame, so I endlessly read studies on animal intelligence and abilities, which led (along with my PI experience) to my Neema (signing gorilla) mysteries. I am continually intrigued by the creatures we share this planet with. The animals who confound me are the humans who don’t even notice the eagle flying overhead or who aren’t amazed that chameleons and cuttlefish can change skin colors on a whim. Staying alert, appreciative, curious, and active is what keeps me healthy mentally and physically and provides endless fodder for all my mysteries.
Pamela Beason is the author of the Summer “Sam” Westin series, the Neema Mysteries, and the Run for Your Life young adult suspense series. She has also written romantic suspense and nonfiction books. Check out the full list at PamelaBeason.com.
Her latest book, Backcountry, is available from Amazon and other online bookstores, and can be ordered by your favorite bookseller, too.