Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Behind the Books: More on Choosing Topics

The idea for Seals, Sea Lions, and Walruses began percolating in my mind while I was in the Galapagos Islands. Here’s an excerpt from the journal I kept during that trip.

I tightened the strap on my facemask, took a deep breath, and fell backward over the edge of the boat. Down, down, splash! The chilly ocean water stunned my body.


Even though it was February, I had expected the water to be warmer. After all, I was just off the coast of Floreana, one of the Galapagos Islands. These islands, which straddle the equator, are about 600 miles off the western coast of Ecuador.
After a few minutes, my body adjusted to the water. I dove down and started looking around. Empty shells littered the sandy bottom. Fish with bright stripes, spots, and splotches swam lazily by. What a quiet, peaceful world!
Suddenly, a strange noise startled me. As I turned toward the sound, my heart began to race. A large, chocolate-colored creature darted toward me at top speed. An instant before impact, the animal altered its course slightly, gliding just inches below my body. I was shocked, but the sea lion was thrilled. It was playing one of its favorite games—chicken.
My new playmate copied my every move. When I dove, it dove too. And when I turned, the sea lion followed me. Soon, I was out of breath, but the sea lion kept on going. It used its powerful front flippers like oars and steered with its smaller back flippers.

As the graceful animal flowed effortlessly through the water, it spun in circles and twisted its agile body this way and that. When playtime was over, the sea lion swam to shore and flopped down on the beach.

Soon, I was out of breath, but the sea lion kept on going. It used its powerful front flippers like oars and steered with its smaller back flippers. As the graceful animal flowed effortlessly through the water, it spun in circles and twisted its agile body this way and that. When playtime was over, the sea lion swam to shore and flopped down on the beach.

After an experience like that, how could I not write about sea lions and their kin?

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