How does a zoologist become a writer of fantasy and romance?
My journey was more like why does a writer study zoology in college instead of writing or literature?
Along with reading and writing, growing up my passion was animals—their ecology, their physiology, their behavior, their classification. I watched nature documentaries long before I learned how to read and write. When I began writing in grade school, my first stories involved animals as the main characters (notably a frog and fish my first-grade story “The Fish Who Wanted to See the World”). Still, I spent entire summers in the public library, reading teetering piles of books per week, all fiction. In high school, I was part of the “authors club,” initiated by a friend of mine and proctored by our 12th grade English teacher. In college, I studied medieval literature and creative writing as electives, but I majored in zoology. After earning my bachelor’s degree, my best jobs were following my interest in working with animals. Eventually I became a zookeeper at a small zoo in Central Oregon, working with animals native to the high desert region.
My course changed toward writing when I became a mother and left the zoo. I wondered, in the endless, sleepless cycle of feedings and diapers, if I had indeed left the zoo. The work hadn’t changed, simply the venue. Add a guinea pig, a dog, hermit crabs, fish…nope, zoo is still around me, 10 years later.
Enter my other passion, writing. In 2003, I joined an online writer’s workshop where I learned to critique manuscripts and practiced different aspects of writing craft. I began submitting my work, and in 2007 became a published author.
My novel The Empire’s Edge (reviewed on this site earlier this year) was published in March 2011. Since then I have not finished any new manuscripts, focusing instead on my new career as an editor. I still write in fits and starts and hope to finish some new material for my readers within this next year.
Kelly Schaub is a freelance editor who masquerades as writer Kelly McCrady. She is a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association and Willamette Writers.