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  • The Loop
  • Written by Nicholas Evans
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  • The Loop
  • Written by Nicholas Evans
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

From the author of The Horse Whisperer comes the phenomenal #1 New York Times bestseller, an extraordinary new novel of love, family, and man's struggle with the wild.

A pack of wolves makes a sudden savage return to the Rocky Mountain ranching town of Hope, Montana, where a century earlier they were slaughtered by the thousands. Biologist Helen Ross has come to Hope from the East, fleeing a life in shambles, determined to save the wolves from those who seek to destroy them. But an ancient hatred awaits her in Hope, a hatred that will tear a family and ultimately the community apart. And soon Helen is at the center of the storm, by loving the wrong man, by defying the wrong man . . . by daring to lead a town out of the violent darkness of its past. . . .

Visit the Nicholas Evans Web site at http://www.nicholasevans.com

Excerpt

The scent of slaughter, some believe, can linger in a place for years.  They say it lodges in the soil and is slowly sucked through coiling roots so that in time all that grows there, from the smallest lichen to the tallest tree, bears testimony.

Perhaps, as he moved silently down through the forest on that late afternoon, his summer-sleek back brushing lower limbs of pine and fir, the wolf sensed it.  And perhaps this vestige of a rumor in his nostrils, that here a hundred years ago so many of his kind were killed, should have made him turn away.

Yet on and down he went.

He had set out the previous evening, leaving the others in the high country where even now, in July, there lingered spring flowers and patches of tired snow in gullies shy of the sun.  He had headed north along a high ridge then turned east, following one of the winding rocky canyons that funneled the snowmelt down from the divide to the valleys and plains below.  He had kept high, shunning the trails, especially those that ran along the water, where sometimes in this season there were humans.  Even through the night, wherever it was possible, he had stayed below the timberline, edging the shadows, in a trot so effortless that his paws seemed to bounce without touching the ground.  It was as though his journey had some special purpose.

When the sun rose, he stopped to drink, then found a shaded nook high among the sliprock and slept through the heat of the day.

Now, in this final descent to the valley, the going was more difficult.  The forest floor was steep and tangled with blowdown, like tinder in some epic fireplace, and the wolf had to weave his way carefully among it.  Sometimes he would double back and find a better route so as not to puncture the silence with the telltale snap of a dead branch.  Here and there, the sun broke through the trees to make pools of vivid green foliage and these the wolf would always skirt.

He was a prime four-year-old, the alpha of the pack.  He was long in the leg and almost a pure black, with just the faintest haze of gray along his flanks and at his throat and muzzle.  Now and again he would pause and lower his head to sniff a bush or a tuft of grass, then lift his leg and make his mark, reclaiming this long-lost place as his own.  At other times he would stop and tilt his nose to the air and his eyes would narrow and shine yellow as he read the scented messages that wafted on thermals from the valley below.

Once while doing this, he smelled something closer at hand and he turned his head and saw two white-tailed deer, mother and fawn, no more than a dozen yards away, frozen in a shaft of sunlight, watching him.  He stared at them, connecting in an ancient communion that even the fawn understood.  And for a long moment, all that moved were the spores and insects that spiraled and glinted above the deer's heads.  Then, as if deer and insect were of equal consequence to a wolf, he looked up and again assessed the air.

From a mile and a half away came the mingled smells of the valley.  Of cattle, dogs, the acrid tang of man's machines.  And though he must have known, without ever being taught, the peril of such things, yet on again he went and down, the deer following him with inscrutable black eyes until he was lost among the trees.

The valley which the wolf was now entering ran some ten miles due east in a widening, glacial scoop toward the town of Hope.  Its sides were ridged and thick with pine and, viewed from above, seemed to reach out like yearning arms to the great sunbleached plains that stretched from the town's eastern edge to the horizon and countless more beyond.

At its widest, from ridge to ridge, the valley was almost four miles wide.  It was hardly perfect grazing land, though many had made a living from it and one or two grown rich.  There was too much sage and too much rock and whenever the pasture seemed about to roll, some coulee or creek, choked with scrub and boulders, would gouge through and cut it off.  Halfway down the valley, several of these creeks converged and formed the river which wound its way through stands of cottonwood to Hope and on from there to the Missouri.

All of this could be surveyed from where the wolf now stood.  He was on a limestone crag that jutted from the trees like the prow of a fossilized ship.  Below it, the land fell away sharply in a wedge-shaped scar of tumbled rock and, below that, both mountain and forest gave way grudgingly to pasture.  A straggle of black cows and calves were grazing lazily at their shadows and beyond them, at the foot of the meadow, stood a small ranch house.

It had been built on elevated ground above the bend of a creek whose banks bristled with willow and chokecherry.  There were barns to one side and white-fenced corrals.  The house itself was of clapboard, freshly painted a deep oxblood.  Along its southern side ran a porch that now, as the sun elbowed into the mountains, was bathed in a last throw of golden light.  The windows along the porch had been opened wide and net curtains stirred in what passed for a breeze.

From somewhere inside floated the babble of a radio and maybe it was this that made it hard for whoever was at home to hear the crying of the baby.  The dark blue buggy on the porch rocked a little and a pair of pink arms stretched,craving for attention from its rim.  But no one came.  And at last, distracted by the play of sunlight on his hands and forearms, the baby gave up and began to coo instead.

The only one who heard was the wolf.

* * *

Kathy and Clyde Hicks had lived out here in the red house for nearly two years now and, if Kathy were honest with herself (which, on the whole, she preferred not to be, because mostly you couldn't do anything about it, so why give yourself a hard time?), she hated it.

Well, hate was maybe too big a word.  The summers were okay.  But even then, you always had the feeling that you were too far away from civilization; too exposed.  The winters didn't bear thinking about.

They'd moved up here two years ago, right after they got married.  Kathy had hoped having the baby might change how she felt about the place and in a way it had.  At least she had someone to talk to when Clyde was out working the ranch, even though the conversation, as yet, was kind of one-way.

She was twenty-three and sometimes she wished she'd waited a few years to get married, instead of doing it straight out of college.  She had a degree in agri-business management from Montana State in Bozeman and the only use she'd ever made of it was the three days a week she spent shuffling her daddy's paperwork around down at the main ranch house.

Kathy still thought of her parents' place as home and often got into trouble with Clyde for calling it that.  It was only a couple of miles down the road, but whenever she'd spent the day there and got in the car to come back up here, she would feel something turn inside her that wasn't quite an ache, more a sort of dull regret.  She would quickly push it aside by jabbering to the baby in the back or by finding some country music on the car radio, turning it up real loud and singing along.

She had her favorite station on now and as she stood at the sink shucking the corn and looking out at the dogs sleeping in the sun by the barns, she started to feel better.  They were playing that number she liked, by the Canadian woman with the ball-breaker voice, telling her man how good it felt when he "cranked her tractor." It always made Kathy laugh.

God, really, she should count her blessings.  Clyde was as fine a husband as any woman could hope for.  Though not the richest (and, okay, maybe not the brightest either), he'd been, by a long way, the best-looking guy at college.  When he'd proposed, on graduation day, Kathy's friends had been sick with envy.  And now he'd given her a beautiful, healthy baby.  And even if this place was at the back end of nowhere, it was still a place of their own.  There were plenty of folk her age in Hope who'd give their right arms for it.  Plus, she was tall, had great hair and even though she hadn't quite got her figure back after having the baby, she still knew her looks could crank any tractor she chose.

Self-esteem had never been a problem for Kathy.  She was Buck Calder's daughter and around these parts that was about as big a thing to be as there was.  Her daddy's ranch was one of the largest spreads this side of Helena and Kathy had grown up feeling like the local princess.  One of the few things she didn't like about being married was giving up her name.  She had even suggested to Clyde that she might do what those big-shot career women did nowadays and go double-barreled, call herself Kathy Calder Hicks.  Clyde had said fine, whatever, but she could see he wasn't keen on the idea and so as not to hurt him she'd settled for plain old Kathy Hicks.

She looked up at the clock.  It was getting on for six.  Clyde and her daddy were down in the hay fields, fixing some irrigation, and they were all coming over for supper around seven.  Her mom was due any minute with a pie she'd baked for dessert.  Kathy cleared the mess out of the sink and put the corn into a pan on the stove.  She wiped her hands on her apron and turned the radio down.  All she had left to do was peel the potatoes and, when they were done, Buck Junior out there on the porch would no doubt be hollering for his feed and she'd do that then get him all bathed and brushed up nice and smart for his grandpa.



The cows in the top meadow looked up as one when the wolf came out from the trees.  He stopped where the grass began, as if to give them the chance to inspect him.  They had never before seen such a creature.  Perhaps they placed him as some larger, darker kind of coyote.  Coyotes were only a real danger when a calf was freshly born.  Perhaps he seemed more like one of the ranch dogs who wandered among them sometimes and the only time you had to pay heed to them was when they snapped at your heels to make you go someplace you'd rather not.

In return the wolf barely graced them with a glance.  All his senses were locked on something else, something down at the house, and he lowered his head and started down the meadow toward it.  He moved more slowly now, with greater caution, not skirting the cattle but passing right through them.  But so clear was his disinterest that none moved away and all soon went back to their grazing.

As the sun slid behind the mountains, a line of shadow came creeping across the grass in front of the house and up and onto the porch, like a rising tide, so that first the wheels and then the base of the baby's buggy were engulfed and the oxblood wall behind it congealed to a darker red.

The wolf by now was at the foot of the meadow and here he stopped by the fence where Clyde had rigged up a pipe and an old enamel bathtub to water the cattle if the creek dried up.  A pair of magpies broke from the willow scrub down by the creek and came up toward him in a series of fluttering swoops, scolding him, as if they knew his business here and didn't much care for it.  The wolf ignored them.  But from the shelter of his buggy, now only some twenty yards away, the baby did a passable imitation of the birds, shrieked with delight at how it sounded, then did several encores.  Inside the house a phone started to ring.






It was Kathy's mother.  She said the pie had burned but not to worry because she had something else in the freezer that they could microwave.

"Oh and Luke says he'll come, if that's okay."

"Of course it's okay."

Luke, Kathy's brother, had just turned eighteen.  He was sweet with the baby whenever she bumped into him down at the ranch, but he and Clyde didn't get along too well and since she'd been married, Luke hadn't been up here to the house more than a couple of times.  As kids, they had never really been close.  But then no one was close to Luke.  Except, of course, their mom.  She was the only one, in the end, who could handle his stutter.

Kathy had always been too impatient.  Even when she was old enough to know better, she couldn't help finishing his sentences for him when he blocked.  Since he'd graduated from high school, a couple of months ago, she'd hardly seen him.  He was getting to be more of a loner than ever, it seemed to Kathy, always off on his own in the wilderness with only that funny-looking horse of his for company.

Anyway, he was coming to supper and that was fine.

Her mother asked how the baby was and Kathy said he was just great and thatshe'd better get off the phone because it was coming up toward his feed time and she still had things to do.

It was just as she hung up that the dogs started barking.

Normally, she wouldn't have given this a second thought.  The dogs were forever hollering and taking off after some varmint or other.  But there was something about the noise they were making now that made her look out of the window.  

Maddie, the old collie, had her tail tucked under her and was slinking off around the side of the barn, muttering over her shoulder.  Prince, the yellow Labrador that Kathy's father had given her when they first moved up here, was pacing to and fro with his hackles up.  His ears alternately pricked and flattened as if he were unsure of himself and he punctuated his barking with worried little whines.  His eyes were fixed on something beyond the house, something up toward the meadow.

Kathy frowned.  She'd better go see what was spooking them.  The pan in which she was cooking the corn started to hiss and she went over to the stove and turned down the heat.  When she came out through the kitchen screen door and stepped down into the yard there was no sign of the collie.  Prince seemed relieved to see her.

"Hey you, what's going on here?"

The dog started to come toward her, then seemed to change his mind.  Perhaps her presence gave him that little extra courage he'd been lacking, for now he took off in full cry around the side of the house, kicking up the dust as he went.

It was only then that the thought struck her.  The baby.  There was something on the porch, getting at the baby.  She started to run.  It must be a bear.  Or a mountain lion.  God, how could she have been so dumb?

As she came around the corner of the house, Kathy saw, directly below the porch, what at first she took for a big, black dog, a German shepherd maybe.  It turned to face the Labrador's charge.

"Get out of here!  Git!"

The animal glanced at her and she felt the yellow flash of his eyes upon her and knew in that instant this was no dog.

Prince had skidded to a halt before the wolf and had lowered himself, his front paws splayed so that his chest was just inches from the ground.  He had his teeth bared and was snarling and barking but with such timid bravado that it seemed he might at any moment roll over and submit.  The wolf stood very still, but somehow at the same time seemed to make himself bigger so that he towered over the dog.  His tail was bushy and raised high.  Slowly, he curled back his lips and snarled and his long incisors showed white.

Then, in a single lunge, he had his jaws on the Labrador's throat and swung him off his feet and through the air as if he were no heavier than a jackrabbit.  The dog yelped and Kathy had a sudden image in her head of the wolf having already done the same with her baby and she screamed and jumped onto the end of the porch.

The buggy was at the far end and it seemed like a hundred miles away as she ran toward it.

Oh God, please.  Don't let him be dead.  Please don't let him be dead.

She couldn't tell whether the buggy had been disturbed, but even through the dog's shrieking, she knew her baby inside was silent and the thought of what she would find made her sob.

When she got there she hardly dared look.  But she forced herself and saw the child staring up at her, his face breaking into a gummy grin, and she cried out and reached down and snatched him up.  She did it with such sudden violence that the child began to cry and she held him to her so hard that he cried even louder.  She turned, pressing her back to the wall, and looked down from the porch.

The wolf was standing with his head lowered over the Labrador.  Kathy could see right away that the dog was dead.  His hind legs gave a final twitch, just like they did in his dreams when he slept in front of the fire.  His throat had been torn out and his belly gaped like a gutted fish.  The bleached grass under him rivered red.  Kathy screamed again and the wolf started, as if he'd forgotten she was there.  He stared right at her and she could see the glisten of blood on his face.

"Get out of here!  Go on!  Get out!"

She looked around for something to throw at him but there was no need.  The wolf was already running off and within moments he was ducking under the fence and loping up among the cattle who had all quit their grazing to watch the spectacle below.  At the top of the meadow he stopped and looked back to where Kathy still stood over the dead dog, clutching her baby and crying.  Then he turned and vanished into the shadow of the forest.
Nicholas Evans|Author Q&A

About Nicholas Evans

Nicholas Evans - The Loop
Nicholas Evans is also the author of The Horse Whisperer, the #1 bestseller that has enthralled millions of readers around the world. He lives in London, where he is at work on his next novel.

Author Q&A

Following is the transcript of an online chat with Nicholas Evans that took place on Oct. 2, 2001.

Events_Moderator:
Howdy, folks! For those of you just joining us, tonight we are chatting with Nicholas Evans, author of The Horse Whisperer. His new novel is The Smoke Jumper. Get those questions ready. We'll be starting in just a few minutes!

Events_Moderator: OK everyone, here we go! Let's welcome Nicholas Evans to this Live Event! Hi Nicholas, welcome to Lycos Live Events! How's it going?

Nicholas_Evans: It's fine, thank you. I'm feeling good, it's a little late here in London, but it's fine. Good to be online!

lisa_adams523: What prompted you to write a book about a horse whisperer?

Nicholas_Evans: About 1993 I met a blacksmith at the house of a friend in the southwest of England, in Devon. He mentioned that he'd seen a horse whisperer at work once. And though I grew up with horses and thought I knew a little bit about them, I'd never heard this term before. He told me what they were, and I started to do a little bit of research, and I became more and more convinced I was onto something. For a long while I'd been thinking of a story set in the contemporary American west, a love story perhaps. These two things just came together, I realized that the horse whisperer could be a part of this story. Then I just had to write it. But before I wrote it, I came to America to do a bit of research. I spent time with three horsemen in particular that have this almost miraculous way of working with horses.

bensturner: I have loved all of your books so far. Are you working on any new creations?

Nicholas_Evans: I only finished writing The Smoke Jumper in the summer of this year. It became a book very quickly. But yes, I am working on another idea at the moment, although I'm doing lot of promotion work for The Smoke Jumper. I already did a twelve-city tour of the United States, and on Thursday I'm off to Australia and New Zealand where the book is being published. I'll also be going to Italy and to Holland, which is fun! Meeting lots of readers is always fun!

biobunny: I just finished the Smoke Jumper and I thought it was amazing!

Nicholas_Evans: Thank you so much! Tell your friends!

frizzy009: What is The Smoke Jumper about?

Nicholas_Evans: It's a story, basically, about choice; about that moment in most of our lives when we have to choose between conflicting ideals, between love and honor, or between passion and friendship. It's the story of three good people, a woman and two men, and she loves them both, but ultimately has to choose between them. But it's also about the way we are, particularly with children, and how the adult world inflicts so much pain on children, sometimes without realizing it.

ejh13: I'd like to hear more about your experience with the smoke jumpers themselves. Firefighters of all kinds being heroes of mine!

Nicholas_Evans: I agree with you! I spent quite a bit of time with the smoke jumpers of Montana. And a couple of them have become good friends. There aren't many true heroes in the world today, but these men and women are some of them, risking their lives almost every day of the summer. I didn't get to jump, which frankly I was quite relieved about, but I spent a lot of late night hours drinking beer with them, which was a rather more comfortable way to research it.

ciao_bella2: Are there similarities in these professions, horse whisperers and smoke jumpers, that inspired you to write about them?

Nicholas_Evans: To be honest, I don't think it's possible to generalize about the professions too much, because all the individuals are so different. What the horse whisperers that I met, although none of them would call themselves that, but what they had was a kind of gentleness and an ability to understand the pain of others.

And I don't mean just the horses. It often seemed to me that they still had a sense that all the rest of us have long ago lost. The smoke jumpers were many and varied, but I guess what they had in common was a sort of freedom of spirit, and the wish to do something with their lives that truly proved they were alive. Instead of sitting behind a desk all day like so many of us do. They are also able to exercise a lot of their own judgement when doing this work. Some troops of firefighters pride themselves on their military discipline, but a smoke jumper is never afraid to question an order if it's wrong. And I like this independence of mind.

ejh13: I've given The Smoke Jumper to friends that I thought would enjoy the story. Is there a book you keep an extra copy of to give to friends?

Nicholas_Evans: I always seem to be giving away copies of All The Pretty Horses, by Cormack McCarthy. It's one of the finest books I've ever read, but I'm always careful to tell people not to give up before about page thirty, because when those two boy set off on their horses, it just lifts your heart away with them. The other book that I have given many copies away of is Pat Conroy's The Prince of Tides. And I suppose looking at more classical stuff, Tess of the D'Urbervilles remains a constant favorite.

Mark: Who are the best young authors in the UK today?

Nicholas_Evans: That's a very difficult question to answer. There are a lot of writers that seem to be fashionable at the moment, and among them, some very good ones.

People like Nick Hornby, Tony Parsons. But actually I tend to read more American fiction than English at the moment. I find sometimes that the new English fiction is a touch parochial. A book that I'm in the middle of at the moment and loving is called Peace Like a River by a newcomer by Leif Enger. I'd recommend it to anyone.

CaptainJ: Smoke jumping isn't a common job or vocation. What inspired you to write a book about it?

Nicholas_Evans: I seem to get my ideas when I'm researching the previous novel. I got the idea for my second book, The Loop, when I was researching The Horse Whisperer. And when I was researching The Loop, I had the idea for The Smoke Jumper. I was driving down to Missoula, Montana from the Nine Mile Valley where I'd been with a wolf biologist, radio tracking a pack of wolves, and I saw a road sign. It said simply Smoke Jumpers. At the time, I wasn't enough of a Montanan to know what they were or what this meant. In fact, I was so busy looking at the sign that I nearly drove into the back of a police car that had stopped in front of me. I swerved to avoid him and sure enough his lights came on and he stopped me. He gave me a warning ticket for making an improper pass. I have it framed on my wall. It shows the exact date I had the idea, April 17, 1996. At the time, I was going through quite a turmoil in my private life, and this idea of someone jumping into the flames — after someone explained to me what smoke jumpers were — had an appeal. I was trying to decide to jump into the flames to end a long relationship. And slowly the story, but not my story, came together. Fire as a metaphor was an idea, and I started to read and think about it. Fire does so many contradictory things. On the one had, it destroys and kills, and if you survive it scars you. But on the other hand, it purifies. If you go to a place that a forest fire has passed through only a year ago, you'll see this amazing new growth. There are certain trees and plants in the West of the United States that can only reproduce in the extreme heat of a forest fire. And flowers that were thought to be extinct suddenly show up again. In a way, it was the ultimate metaphor for a story.

biobunny: What did you think of the movie interpretation of The Horse Whisperer?

Nicholas_Evans: I still feel very fortunate that somebody of Robert Redford's stature and sensitivity should have wanted to make the movie, and I thought he did a pretty good job. Of course, when you've created all of these characters and images and places in your own head, it's very hard when somebody serves up an entirely new set of images. You somehow feel that they've got it wrong. But putting that aside, I thought he captured, in a very moving way, the healing process. And the work with the horses was astonishing. He had, incidentally, one of the horse whisperers that I spent time with, working on the movie. A wonderful horseman called Buck Brannaman. The ending of the movie, of course, was different from the book, and in all honesty, I didn't like it much. The ending of the book requires that the horse whisperer, who is a kind of angel in one sense, to move on in order that the healing can be completed. The ending is full of hope. But in the movie, the two characters remain forever prisoners of love that never was, and will die in regret. And dying in regret in my opinion is about the worst thing that can happen to a man.

jbbauk0: Was Robert Redford your first choice for the Horse Whisperer? I thought that he did an excellent job and really followed the book well.

Nicholas_Evans: Well, a number of quite big names and studios were wanting to buy the book, and I did have to choose between them. Which is kind of funny, given that I'd been desperately trying to make a go of it in Hollywood as a filmmaker, and failed miserably. I think there were about four different people bidding for it, but in my mind, Redford was always the one who was going to get it. It just seemed to fit, and I had long admired his work as a director, and of course, as an actor.

exotica22: How long did it take you to write The Horse Whisperer?

Nicholas_Evans: It took I suppose about a year and a half of research. Then I wrote it very quickly, in two periods of about three months. But I gave up halfway thinking that no one would be interested, and also, frankly, because I needed to go and earn some money. But I do think that writing it quickly helped. You get a kind of intensity if you work hard at something and don't take too many days off.

pjromero: Given your experience in the Middle East, will any new books be touching on this subject?

Nicholas_Evans: In The Smoke Jumper, although I didn't send Connor, the main character, to a Middle East war, (he goes to Bosnia, Somalia, and Rwanda, and then finally to Uganda), I did use my own experience as a TV reporter to inform some of the research. Particularly the time that I spent in Beirut, when the civil war was on. As for writing a book set in the Middle East, I don't have any plans at the moment to do that. I did once write a play that I've never done anything with that was set in a hotel for journalists in a war zone. Maybe one day I'll dig it up.

ciao_bella2: Do you have children of your own? If so, does this inspire you to create these emotional tales that affect children?

Nicholas_Evans: Yes, I have three children: two boys and a girl, now all at college, and of course, having children adds a whole area of life to your own life. Watching them learn and grow and sharing in their triumphs and sorrows and disappointments is a rich vein of research, as well as a life lesson.

ejh13: Your canvas was broad in The Horse Whisperer and in The Loop, but you surprised me in The Smoke Jumper when I found myself transported to Africa! What inspired you to leave the American West for a place that seems so different? Was there a link for you?

Nicholas_Evans: Well, the heart of The Smoke Jumper story is really still Montana.

It's the place where Connor Ford, the main character, was born and grew up and it's the place to which he returns. But it's true, he does go on a long journey of the soul, which takes him thorough all the worst areas of human suffering, like a sort of lost pilgrim. I did want to send him to Africa, and for the story to resolve itself in Africa, because it's very dear to my heart. I spent a year living in West Africa when I was 18 years old and it changed my life. I feel that at the moment Africa is the conscience of the world and the more we can draw attention to the terrible suffering that's going on there, the better for all of us. The story is a very elemental one. It's full of red earth and deep blue skies, and it's somehow very appropriate to take an emotional journey into the heart of Africa, the most elemental of places, and the place that we as a species were born.

cath220: The Smoke Jumper has so many incredible locations, from the American West and the fires to war torn Africa. Do you think it would translate into film?

Nicholas_Evans: Maybe it would. In fact, we've had a serious offer for the film rights just recently. Nothing is decided yet, but it may just happen!

ejh13: A question about The Loop: Are you in touch with the people who are helping the wolves? It is a politically charged issue, I know, but I was fascinated to read about it in the novel, and wonder about the movement's progress. Any idea?

Nicholas_Evans: Yes, I am in touch with them. Several of the wolf biologists who helped me with the research have become good friends. And the wolves are doing well in Montana. The first batch of wolves that were let loose in Yellowstone Park have bred successfully. Of course, there have been unfortunate incidents where ranchers have lost livestock, but the fantastically clever compensation scheme, devised by Hank Fisher of Defenders of Wildlife, has taken the sting out of the campaign against the wolves. Of course, more and more people are going to live in the West and I think it has to be accepted that there's a limit to the places that wolves could live in a wild habitat. I live in Britain most of the time, and there's a movement to return the wolf to the Highlands of Scotland. Much as I'd like to see that happen, I don't think the chances are very high. Britain is just too populated a place.

pjromero: What's with the consistent love triangle theme?

Nicholas_Evans: I suppose there was one in The Horse Whisperer, if that's what you mean, but there wasn't one in The Loop. In The Smoke Jumper, the idea really started as two male friends who love the same woman. I suppose the triangle just grew from there. I wanted the characters to have to choose between loyalty and passion, whether they would jump into the flames or not. The love triangle, of course, is one of the eternal sources of fiction. So I don't apologize!

Events_Moderator: I hate to say it, but we have to wrap this up in a few minutes. We have time for just a few more questions and comments.

ejh13: You mentioned the play that's on the back burner. Anything else you've put aside to revisit in the future?

Nicholas_Evans: I'm a very superstitious person and I think if you talk about ideas before they are ready, then they can flush away from you, or dissolve in your hand. So I'm sorry, I don't really want to talk about that.

konstantinejt: Given what happened on Sept 11, how do you think the current TV reporters did covering this story?

Nicholas_Evans: I was watching it from here in the UK. I got back from the United States less than 24 hours before it happened. So I watched, as everyone did, with a kind of dumb horror. I haven't seen too much American coverage on TV, although a lot of the UK TV channels have been taking American reportage and think they've done a great job. I've admired just about everybody involved with this terrible event, in particular the firefighters and emergency service people. It makes you proud to be a human being, just watching these people work.

bridget_hall: I would like to read your book. Is it available in Canada?

Nicholas_Evans: If you mean The Smoke Jumper, yes, it was published in Canada a couple or three weeks ago.

lisa_adams523: Where do you do most of your writing? Do you have a special place that you work from?

Nicholas_Evans: Yes, I have an apartment in London and just two years ago, I bought an ancient and rather ramshackle house in the southwest of England. It's right out in the country, near a wild place, a sort of wilderness area called Dartmoor. I hope that I'd be able to write as well in the country as I do in the city, but the truth is, I just want to be out there enjoying it, rather than sitting behind a desk. So it took a lot of discipline to work out there, but I got it done. I'm pretty strict with myself when I'm starting to write. I'm at the computer by nine in the morning, take an hour at lunch, and then work until six or seven in the evening. If only the hours put in guaranteed either the quantity or quality of words ... sadly they often don't.

ejh13: Other than your home, what's your favorite place to be in London? OK, I'm obsessed with the place and eager for more tips...

Nicholas_Evans: I have lots of favorite places in London, depending on the weather.

On a brisk spring or fall day, it's hard to beat Hyde Park or Kensington Gardens. When it's raining, and there's nothing good on at the movies, the best place I can think of is the Tate Gallery. And now there's the marvelous Tate Modern as well, to use up those rainy days.

kmm43: It seems that healing, both physical and emotional, is a central theme to your novels. What made you want to write on these life lessons?

Nicholas_Evans: I suppose it's true ... they are about healing, all three books. Or rather, about the possibility of redemption and hope. The first two books are very much about living in the moment, and I think if there was one piece of advice that I could pass on to my kids, if it were only my gift, would be to let them live in the moment. But I suppose also that the themes I choose to write about reflect a basic belief in the goodness of human beings. I don't really believe in ego. I think that evil things happen because things go wrong to people who are essentially, deep down, not bad people. I hope the books reflect that hope.

Events_Moderator: Well folks, it time to wrap up the show. Thanks Nicholas, we had a really good time chatting with you! We'll have to do this again sometime.

Nicholas_Evans: Thanks so much for letting me do this, I've enjoyed it! And I hope that it's given people a chance to know a little more about The Smoke Jumper. I hope those who haven't read it will be inclined to read and enjoy it. Thanks everyone, goodbye for now!

Events_Moderator: Great questions everyone. Ya'll are the best! Thanks again for coming. See ya next time at Lycos Live Events.

Praise

Praise

"Gripping, big drama in Big Sky country...The Loop ropes a reader in."
--People

"Colorful, captivating . . . a novel of big themes: freedom, self-reliance, conservation, sheer survival."
--The New York Times Book Review

"Readers who loved The Horse Whisperer will most certainly love The Loop."
--The Orlando Sentinel

  • The Loop by Nicholas Evans
  • September 07, 1999
  • Fiction - Literary; Fiction
  • Dell
  • $7.99
  • 9780440224624

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