Dog Stars


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I wanted that experience again in writing. I wanted to be surprised, shocked, thrilled, awed. Stephen King, for one; Elmore Leonard. It kind of gave me permission. I sat down and wrote a first line and it was Hig talking and he spoke The Dog Stars. I was sitting in my local coffee shop, where I like to write—and incidentally where I met my wife, whom I was too shy to talk to and so wooed with a note written on a napkin—and I set down the first line of the book. Then the second and third. The fourth and fifth lines were: Big Hig if you need another.


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I knew immediately that this was a voice worth listening to. The depth of heartbreak and trauma were evident, but so was this formidable toughness combined with a huge love of the world, a generosity of spirit and the sensitivities of an artist. The story is told from his point of view, first person, so all I had to do was get out of the way. Without giving away too much, can you talk about the journey you wanted Hig to take and why a rather dark near-future was the setting you chose?

He studies seventy million year old plant fossils, so you might say he has the Long View. Kirk is an aficionado of extinction. This often leads to imaginings of what the apocalypse will look like when it comes, which it surely must. The eco-sphere as we know it is unraveling so fast.

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The odd thing is, these are not depressing discussions. To us, they are exciting, riveting. But the prospect that the earth may try to shrug off Homo sapiens after what he has inflicted on millions of other species does not seem unjust. What would you do when everything really hits the fan? How would you reckon the losses? How do you reckon the losses that are occurring now? I think that when I came at last to writing a novel this is the subject that was most on my mind.

And in my heart. I am, if I am moved by anything, profoundly moved by nature. Have been since I was the smallest child. And moved by her struggles right now. These themes had to be central to this book.

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It just so happens you own a Cessna and are a pilot yourself. Pulse quickens just talking about it. To see the world from the air, the way landscapes, topography fit together, how the creeks thread, the rivers unwind. You get this sense flying a small plane not too far from the ground that the world below is perfect.

Everything in its place. And you are detached from it. Then you get hit by turbulence and you are jolted sideways and you stop being all poetic and right the controls and get an adrenalin rush like nothing else. It was like drinking from a fire hose. And I was not a natural. So he makes them up.

His are almost always animals, and his favorite being at this point in his life is his dog Jasper. The world Hig inhabits is fully formed and packed with details, from scenes of gardening to mentions of poetry to excitement about the best gun for a particular shot. Most of the details in the book come from the things I love to do.


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  • That was eye opening. The book is full of the outdoors and nature — fishing, hunting, camping, even farming. Did you bring your passions to the book or did the demands of the story introduce you to any new passions?

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    Every passion is in here—all things that have brought me great joy. I hunt deer and elk out the back fence of our place in western Colorado. Like Hig, I love to hunt and hate to kill anything.

    'Dog Stars' Dwells On The Upside Of Apocalypse

    I love to fly fish. And to be out in the mountains, on rivers. The verdant box canyon in the book is an actual place. I spent a week there with a master survival instructor—no food, no sleeping bags, tents, or matches. He taught me to catch trout by hand and start fires with a sage bow and drill. Five of us slept on piles of pine needles and huddled for warmth.

    It made a big impression on me.

    'Dog Stars' Dwells On The Upside Of Apocalypse : NPR

    One thing, though, that the novel introduced me to was the complete joy of being able to make it all up. A story, I mean. Who are some of your favorites writers? What are you working on now? There is no going back. Buy the Audiobook Download: Apple Audible downpour eMusic audiobooks. About The Dog Stars Hig somehow survived the flu pandemic that killed everyone he knows. American post-apocalyptic novels American novels Alfred A. Knopf books Dogs in literature Novels set in Colorado American novel stubs.

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    The Dog Stars

    Views Read Edit View history. This page was last edited on 26 July , at By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. This article about an American novel is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it. Further suggestions might be found on the article's talk page.

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