Imagining Darwin 6: “It Was Snowing Butterflies”

  From The Voyage of the Beagle, Chapter VIII: “One evening, when we were about ten miles from the Bay of San Blas, vast numbers of butterflies, in bands or flocks of countless myriads, extended as far as the eye could range. Even with the aid of a telescope it was not possible to see a […]

Imagining Darwin 5: The Luminous Ocean

    From Darwin’s Beagle Diary: October 24, 1832 The night was pitch dark, with a fresh breeze.— The sea from its extreme luminousness presented a wonderful & most beautiful appearance; every part of the water, which by day is seen as foam, glowed with a pale light. The vessel drove before her bows two […]

Imagining Darwin 4: In the Galapagos

Imagining Darwin 4: In the Galapagos On October 18th, 1835 Darwin was camped on St James Island (Isla Santiago) in the Galapagos Archipelago, where he’d been exploring and gathering specimens. He and the crewmen who came with him were now waiting for the Beagle to return for them after finishing its surveying cruise around the […]

Imagining Darwin 3

Darwin was 22 years old and Captain Fitzroy was 26 when the Beagle set sail on its five-year mission. Pause and consider those ages for a moment. A hot-tempered 26-year-old, prone to depression and fits of rage, had command of a British naval vessel that was going to circumnavigate the globe and carry out surveying […]

Imagining Darwin 2

Almost from the moment the Beagle first set sail, Darwin was violently seasick and spent the first few weeks of the journey into the Atlantic confined to his cabin and unable to keep food down. It seemed to him he had made an enormous mistake undertaking this voyage. He recovered enough to change his mind […]

Imagining Darwin

  I’m working on a novel set during Darwin’s voyage on board the Beagle. In order to find my way imaginatively into his world, I’ve been creating dioramas out of my kids’ old toys, illustrating key moments in Darwin’s life (something like the collages I made when I was working on my novel Salamander, but […]

“Valerie Bug”

  “One morning, after a night of primitive neural activity that vaguely resembled dreams, an insect woke to discover that it had been transformed into a woman named Valerie…”   New story of mine in the Danforth Review! http://thedanforthreview.blogspot.ca/2015/01/fiction-57-thomas-wharton.html

Naked people in books

        Read the following passage. There will be a short quiz afterward.   Augustus was intently writing at his desk when there was a knock at the door. With a low growl he thrust the quill pen into its holder, rose from his chair, strode to the door and threw it open. […]

Useful monsters

The wolf prowls the worlds of Story in many guises.   Wolves have been demonized in stories probably since stories were first told, or at least since humans began to domesticate sheep and cows and other animals. When this happened, however many thousands of years ago, when we began to keep animals as captive protein […]

The Elements of Story: The Fifth Element

“The universe is made up of stories, not of atoms.”  – Muriel Rukeyser “The creative element in the mind of man . . . emerges in as mysterious a fashion as those elementary particles which leap into momentary existence in great cyclotrons, only to vanish again like infinitesimal ghosts.”  – Loren Eiseley   In earlier […]