Amazon’s book blog Omnivoracious asked for my perspective on environmental writing, as well as the books that inspired me to track down the story of the “wildest woman in America.” Here’s what I told them:

“Nature writing can be pretty, and environmental books can be convincing, but I ultimately crave the raw emotion of fellow human beings struggling to find and protect their place in the world. The best environmental writing, I believe, is about people.

People are the problem and the solution. Good environmental writing reconnects people to nature—not through lectures, but through living, flesh-and-blood examples of courage and commitment. We feel the landscape through them.

For years, I’ve tried to write about the tangled environmental politics of Cumberland Island. Finally, I realized that the best way to tell the island’s story was through the heartbreaking adventures of its most powerful personality. Carol’s experiences are more persuasive than any political argument.”

Read the entire blog, including my selections of favorite environmental books, here. Instead of preachy diatribes or flowery descriptions, they inspire me with gritty, gutsy characters—some legendary, some overlooked—who stand their ground and speak for the wild.