How I Handled Research by Rachel Clark — Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Rachel Clark will be awarding 1 signed paperback of the Blackfish Prophecy, 1 bookmark for The Blackfish Prophecy, 1 Orca-themed or book-themed mug to one randomly drawn US winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

How I handled the research for the book.

Well, the more accurate question in this case is, how did the research handle me?

The Blackfish Prophecy has its origins in dreams, dolphins, whales, and a career writing about human impact on the planet that supports us all. I grew up identifying as a writer, but in college fell in love with the study of Life. I graduated with a Biology degree and loved it so much, I went on for a Master’s degree in Zoology. During those years, I had the opportunity to work with captive dolphins and Beluga whales at the National Aquarium, then, only a few short weeks later, the joyful and overwhelming experience of encountering wild killer whales off the shores of Washington State.

These were formative experiences that simmered for years as I went on to combine my writing and biology experience into a career as a science and environment writer. The idea for The Blackfish Prophecy came to me years ago as a newly fledged science writer (and very shortly after encountering the magnificence of wild orca), but it wasn’t until I had a dream in the summer of 2012 that things changed. That dream – in which a matriarchal orca slid up onto a pebbly beach to deliver an experience of unity and joy to me and my sons – lead to my reading David Kirby’s landmark Death at SeaWorld, which triggered a cascade of characters, plot, and mystical experience of receiving what I can only call, a “download.” This inevitably led to my writing the first draft of the book within the next few months.

So, yes, I did a lot of “research” for this book, and the ones to come, but that was more by “chance” or “coincidence” than an active quest by me to “do research.” Then again, if you read The Blackfish Prophecy, you know there are no coincidences.

Or… maybe you already know. 

The short answer though is this:

I was open to following my heart. That is where magic lies shining, and where the world changes for good.

Best friends Terra and Tiluk live alongside the wild orcas of Washington State. On the other side of the continent, Miles wallows in anger and self-pity fueled by his parents’ divorce. In a moment of harrowing fate, their lives converge when Miles witnesses a captive orca brutally kill his trainer at a marine amusement park.

When Miles contacts Terra and her family of whale biologists to better understand the “killer” whale, the three teens soon realize they are more linked to each other – and the whales – than they ever imagined. Driven by a primal urge to connect with the highly-evolved consciousness of the orca, the teens take extraordinary risks to challenge big business and renew lost traditions.

Their journey is set to restore an ancient mystical bond between humans and whales that ultimately reveals The Blackfish Prophecy…a revelation about Terra – and those like her – that’s about to change everything.

Read an Excerpt:

He wasn’t sure whether the fence was supposed to keep people out of the swamp, or keep the swamp away from the people. The snakes were seriously getting out of control. You couldn’t live in Florida and not know about the yellow anacondas, Burmese pythons and boa constrictors. They were a huge problem since they’d been accidentally introduced. The snakes loved it here, and they didn’t have anybody to eat them, so they were pretty much everywhere. He’d heard rumors at school about snakes that had even eaten little kids. Sometimes he’d just come here and stare over the fence, peering from the concrete stronghold of their subdivision into the dank, vegetation choked, black‐watered quagmire. The swamp creeped him out but, at the same time, it pulled at him, beckoning somehow.

The sidewalk was much smoother than the pavement, and he rocketed past all the backyards, blipping from fence to fence at high speed. He veered into the swamp on the fenced walkway that linked the back edge of his massive development to the business district on the other side of the swamp.

There was trash everywhere in here; soda bottles, needles, plastic bags, broken glass. This pathway smelled even worse than plain old swamp; like exhaust and beer mixed with the smell of a dead body rotting in mud. He raced past a couple of sleeping old homeless guys on benches, relieved it was getting lighter outside. He never came here in the dark.

Once he hit the business district, everything clicked. I’m going to OceanLand. He hadn’t realized it until that very moment. He slowed for a fraction of a second, Seriously Frost? Umm, Duh! YES! It was only a couple of miles from their house, which was one reason their mom took them so often—she’d bought a family membership after the divorce. Broken family membership, more like. He whipped through the back parking lots of the Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Wendy’s and Exxon. When he got to Wal‐Mart, he knew he was close. Slowing, he narrowed his eyes and scanned the OceanLand perimeter. First was the gigantic parking area, which is what people saw when they pulled in. It was so big you could plunk down a freaking small town on that lot with room to spare. Behind that was the park itself, which was enclosed by a huge 12‐foot‐tall solid wood fence that snaked back into thick vegetation. Miles’ gaze fell against the trees back there, and instinctively he pushed his board toward them. But this time his foot came down carefully, gently. He’d gone on high alert. He was pretty sure that OceanLand wouldn’t want people sneaking around back there, especially after that Harvey Mott guy managed to get himself killed. Not to mention Dusky yesterday. The hair on the back of Miles’ neck went up as he realized what he was about to do. He pressed his mouth tight in resolve. I am doing this.

About the Author:

Rachel is a writer and biologist. As a kid she got hooked on all things animal, vegetable, and mineral. To complicate matters, she was hatching up stories before she could hold a crayon. Once she discovered biology it was all over. Ever since her first class in 7th grade when she refused to dissect a frog, a little voice in her head said: You gotta share this amazing stuff about how nature works, and ask if we really need to harm it. The little voice only got fiercer once she went to college and worked with captive dolphins and Beluga whales, then got to see wild killer whales only a few weeks later. From then on it was an all-out quest to convey the wonders of nature, while pointing out the serious problems of our very bad habit of dominating others and the Earth. She’s been a card-carrying science writer for twenty years. The Blackfish Prophecy is Rachel’s first book.

These days when Rachel is not writing, reading, dreaming, or speaking, you can find her sculpting an unruly assortment of moose-pruned orchard trees & berry bushes, gathering veggies & eggs in her micro-farmyard, foraging for mushrooms, and feasting on local food with friends.

She is a lifelong yogini, devoted pack mate to her free-spirited Canid, and mama bear who’s sustained by treks deep into the Pacific Northwest with her increasingly feral family. Rachel drives a 100% electric zero-emission car, and her family’s home is powered by renewable energy. Their little house is nestled on an urban lot they tend for kids’ play, territory Animalia, sequestering carbon, and a food forest to augment the bounty of local growers.

Her work is fiercely aligned with the science of Life, harmony & justice for all: the enduring dream of Earth.

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  1. Thanks for hosting!

  2. favorite song?

  3. kim hansen says

    Sounds good, love the cover.

  4. Gwendolyn jordan says

    I like the cover

  5. Thank you for hosting and sharing this insightful guest post. Rachel and I are thrilled that you could do this for us!

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