Authors & Scientists Are Writers

The Shark, The Girl & The Sea, Oceanographer Mara Tusconi mystery number five, has recently been published. Yes, the story features sharks (Great Whites) plus sea kayaking, oceanographic research ships, a bloody death, ups and downs of Mara’s love life, and what some marine researchers do. Shark Cage Diving, The Mexican state of Baja California, and Maine’s magnificent coast add spice.

left Mara’s life comes together at the end of the book. Spoiler alert – she finds deep love, a shark scientist, and marries him in the Maine backyard of Angelo, Mara’s godfather.

Given all this, I believe “The Shark” is the last book in the Mara Tusconi series. So, now is a good time to think about my journey to this point.

Like every author I know, I had a professional life before I became a mystery writer. Looking back, that work and my preparation for it set me up well for this new endeavor.

As a marine scientist I wrote a lot of grant proposals plus my and others’ research papers were an everyday business. The content was very different from what I read and write now, of course, but there’s also a lot of overlap. Good writing should be clear, to the point, and deliver a coherent message no matter the focus.

Successful writers, like scientists, are professionals committed to their vocation and career. That takes discipline and follow-through – things like dedicated writing time, facing that blank page, and getting down to the real work of revision, revision, revision. Humility helps a lot. Reworking a favorite chapter because your editor couldn’t make sense of it can make a dent on the ego.

In addition, published authors don’t just write books. They communicate orally to other people be that hundreds in an auditorium, small reading groups, and one-on-one at book-signing events. Most scientists I know give pretty decent talks about their work and many can explain what they do and why to their Aunt Judy or Jane. We’ve all been doing that since we were graduate students.

In my experience, many scientists, like authors, are a patient lot. Scientists who spend countless hours in the field might endure nasty weather – freezing rain, violent seas, extreme heat, never mind critters from snakes to bears. As a marine ecologist I was especially wary of stinging jellyfish and several weeks at sea on a research ship nicknamed “the vomiting Verrill” (no kidding) convinced me that open-ocean research wasn’t for me.

I’ll end with the statement that writing is not necessarily an occupation per se. By this I mean writing need not be a job, although it certainly is work. According to one thesaurus a job is “a specific task done as part of the routine of one’s occupation or for an agreed price”. While some of my writing is financially rewarding, other efforts (like this piece) are not.

Note: all the Mara Tusconi books are listed on my website ( with information how to purchase them.

About Charlene DAvanzo

I'm a marine ecology/college professor who never, ever thought I'd write fiction. That assumption changed in an instant as I listened to another scientist - a climatologist named Ray Bradley at UMass, Amherst - describe being harassed by climate change deniers. The idea to write mysteries with climate change understories to help readers understand what's happening to our climate in the context of a fast-paced exciting story came to me out of nowhere. That's what I do in my "Maine Oceanographer Mara Tusconi" series.
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1 Response to Authors & Scientists Are Writers

  1. susanvaughan says:

    Charlotte, that seems like a fascinating series. Indeed writing and science both require lots of patience. I’m saying this as I’ve been sitting here pondering how to work out my new plot.

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