Not being a science girl myself, I knew if I were going to write a novel like Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature, I’d better spend a proper amount of time doing research. So I’m sorry to say I gave up many lazy summer days (okay, maybe weeks) to plow through Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, highlighting and underlining and giving myself some massive headaches, before I realized there was a much easier way to go about it.
So that fall I went back to high school. I sat in on freshman biology classes for a month. And not only did I pick up the science I needed, but I also had the glorious experience of being back in high school and not caring whether I impressed anyone. Do you know how liberating that is? Who knew it was possible to walk those halls without worrying about your skin, your hair, your clothes, your braces, that stupid thing you just blurted out in chemistry, that boy you just totally humiliated yourself in front of–I mean I had no idea it was possible to actually walk upright and look people in the eye. Fascinating.
I just finished writing another novel that again “required” me to go back to high school. I hope nobody notices I’m making a habit of this.
The other element to Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature–the religious part–came more naturally. I grew up fundamentalist Baptist, and I have enough stories from that to last me quite a while. I loved, loved, loved my religious upbringing, but there were definitely some odd times, including the one that ultimately led to me being banished from my church. But that’s a whole other story.
The thing that I enjoyed most about writing this novel was articulating for myself what it is I believe about God and evolution. It’s something I never really threw light on until I had to put it in the mouths and the heads of the various characters in this book. I understand why the debate exists, and why people get so exercised about it, but I hope that the resolution Mena comes to in the end is one that will be helpful to other people in sorting through the issue themselves.
If not, then I hope I’ve at least added something useful to the dialogue. And given people a few laughs and a little romance to enjoy along the way.