Elizabeth McCulloch on the Ecological Sins of Floridians
In Conversation with G.P. Gottlieb on the New Books Network Podcast
In Dreaming the Marsh (Twisted Road, 2019), a giant sinkhole begins swallowing an enormous swath of a marsh-like ecosystem that has been slated for development, along with parts of a highway and a large lake. The citizens of Opakulla, Florida, struggle to understand what is happening as the land is sucked under. They’re also perplexed by un-erasable writing that appears on their new town hall. The sinkhole starts wreaking havoc with their lives and nobody knows what to do about it. A lovesick geologist wants to study it, the real estate developers relish its wild beauty, the mayor and members of the town commission want something done to stop it, and the owner of a local café, who speaks with the Ancients, understands it. But she isn’t telling.
G.P. Gottlieb: Why has the marshland been sold for development?
Elizabeth McCulloch: Because this is Florida, darlin‘. That’s what we do in Florida. We drained the Everglades. I came to Florida when I was about 26. And so, I sort of grew up in Florida; I became an adult in Florida. In a funny way, I don’t know that much about the rest of the country. But honestly, I think we’re as bad as anyone when it comes to destroying the earth. We build; that’s what we do. And we build horrors and monstrosities and gated communities—oh, don’t get me started.
Elizabeth McCulloch was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and lived in New England, the Midwest, Canada, and the South before putting down roots in Gainesville, Florida, almost 40 years ago. Previously a lawyer, then a teacher, she has had children of various stripes: one born, two foster, one step, and the granddaughter she is now raising with her husband. Elizabeth has always loved to read and always wanted to write. She began seriously pursuing her dream over 30 years ago, with pauses in the pursuit for various events and catastrophes. She has completed three novels and is working on a fourth. At her blog, The Feminist Grandma, she writes illustrated personal essays about family, friends, aging, social justice issues, and whatever takes her fancy. At Big Books from Small Presses, she posts illustrated reviews and other essays about books. Both blogs are at her website, elizabethmccullochauthor.com. When Elizabeth isn’t reading or writing, she sings at a nursing home, swims, gardens, dances, cooks, and has mastered baking pie crusts.
G.P. Gottlieb is the author of the Whipped and Sipped Mystery Series and a prolific baker of healthful breads and pastries. Please contact her through her website (GPGottlieb.com) if you wish to recommend an author (of a beautifully-written new novel) to interview, to listen to her previous podcast interviews, to read her mystery book reviews, or to check out some of her awesome recipes.