Yay for interesting author character backstory. The point isn’t to give a biography of the author or a point-by-point dissertation on why that person chose to become a writer. Anyone can do that. Or anyone can be told that.

No, what I want to do is imagine why a person changes careers (other than being complete unhappy with their lives). I’m going to make up a story. This might also be known in some corners of journalism as reckless speculation.


Susan Dennard:

I’ve come a long way from small-town Georgia. As a marine biologist, I got to travel the world—six out of seven continents, to be exact (I’ll get to you yet, Asia!)—before I settled down as a full-time novelist and writing instructor.

Susan Dennard Biography

I’m not really sure why this fascinates me so much. The idea that someone so smart (being a marine biologist isn’t easy) would become a writer is fascinating.

Perhaps there’s something to seeing such strange and fantastical creatures that exist in our world inspires such (apparently) outlandish worlds of fantasy. A squid from the depths of the ocean that has spikes instead of suction cups. A whole ecosystem beneath us that we haven’t even begun to explore.

There’s also a lot of information in biology, concepts that create a basic foundation for our world and the way we perceive it. Surely this basic academic foundation is useful when constructing a world. To know and appreciate that there are fundamental rules that, while not always seen, must govern every world. The exact opposite of DBZ, where the powers and rules kept changing.

Biology provides insight into what is needed to live, to survive. Ideas that translate into creating a sustainable world and not just glimpses.

And, perhaps, her writing comes from a desire to express complicated ideas in a form which can be easily digested and understood. What good is all the biology knowledge in the world if no one understand it? Part of writing is taking whole worlds and letting someone else understand them, if only for a little while.

A marine biologist became a New York Times bestseller.