Octoberguest! Maggie Caldwell

What I will always remember best about getting to know Maggie (many, many years ago!) is how she built a most astonishing pink and green coffee table between eleven o’clock one night and seven the next morning for a stagecraft class. When class began at nine, the paint was still wet. The prof was a total jerk–but you should have seen the look on his face when he saw that table. (Where was our camera, M?!)

Like me, Maggie’s a writer and mom. But she’s also a photographer and a script doctor. She just finished writing and shooting the pictures for a regional plant guide that will be published this fall, and was awarded a Cowell grant to develop an environmental education curriculum. Plus, she’s a multimedia mogul!

Even though we met all those years ago in the Midwest–very far away from the ocean–now I can’t help but think of her as belonging completely to the Pacific Coast.

Welcome, Maggie!

Thanks for inviting me to come by, Laura!
Today I was thinking about a conversation we had where you commented on how strongly nature-type themes fit into my writing and photography. That’s true – I live and work and have raised my family right along the Pacific coast, but (as you know!) it wasn’t always that way. I wouldn’t be doing what I do now if I were still hanging around at the coffee shops in the Central West End smoking cigarettes! So you got me thinking about how this particular environment has become a really integral part of who I am.
Place Value

I like to think about a value of place that goes beyond land value or the ecosystem value you sometimes hear tossed around. For me, it’s a creative value. It’s probably fair to say that I wouldn’t be a writer or photographer had I not moved to the California coast almost twenty years ago. I was a city girl, living my life in the air-conditioned confines of smoky bars and mega malls, always sensing that other people felt more at home in my hometown than I did. So I moved – to a beach town, neither urban nor rural, where skunks are as common as SUVs and roadway signs warn of dangers such as surfers, geese, and wild boar. Where you can’t count on the sun in the summer or the rain in the winter, but always on the fog drifting in and out all year long. Living next to the ocean, I became completely entranced with place, this dot on the map, and all of its sights and sounds and smells have become my muse.

Don’t go thinking mai tais and tikis, though. Although the sunsets are red-streaked and always breathtaking, the wind is usually brisk and the water is cold. The real show here is nature’s power and unpredictability. Overnight, waves carve a new landscape from the sand. Tides unveil alien worlds. Winter’s storms wash up a half-eaten leopard shark and an assortment of bird and mammal bones. Half-decayed sea lions sprawl on the beach until reclaimed by a large wave. And there are the always-present threats. Wildfires. Floods. Earthquakes. Forget about sharks; the real perils are on land. A sand dune collapses, suffocating a child. A rogue wave sweeps a newlywed into the sea. The lines blur between beauty and danger; it’s a conflict that keeps me wandering around with my camera and notebook looking for more.

Thanks, Maggie! And, uh, I know I didn’t mention that I was going to put up this picture from our Alaska/Bouchercon adventure!

[Remember–Everyone who comments is entered to win $100 Godiva Chocolatier and Harry & David giftbaskets, plus books from several Octoberguest! authors! Drawing held November 2nd.]

Tomorrow: Mystery writer Bill Cameron

One thought on “Octoberguest! Maggie Caldwell”

  1. Wow, amazing photographs!

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