Land Mammals and Sea Creatures

Land Mammals and Sea Creatures is a novel.

Jen Neale

Almost immediately upon Julie Bird's return to the small port town where she was raised, everyday life is turned upside down. Julie's Gulf War vet father, Marty, has been on the losing side of a battle with PTSD for too long. A day of boating takes a dramatic turn when a majestic blue whale beaches itself and dies. A blond stranger sets up camp oceanside: she's an agitator, musician-impersonator and armchair philosopher named Jennie Lee Lewis — and Julie discovers she's connected to her father's mysterious trip to New Mexico 25 years earlier. As the blue whale decays on the beach, more wildlife turns up dead — apparently by suicide — echoing Marty's deepest desire. But Julie isn't ready for a world without her father. (From ECW Press)

Land Mammals and Sea Creatures is on the shortlist for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize.

From the book

Julie Bird closed her eyes and listened to water slap the hull. The tinny taste of lager coated the back of her tongue. She and her father, Marty, spread themselves over lawn chairs on the deck of the old troller. Waves rolled under the boat, and the strips of rainbow vinyl creaked under their weight. Ice sloshed rhythmically against the sides of the cooler

From Land Mammals and Sea Creatures by Jen Neale ©2018. Published by ECW Press.

Why Jen Neale wrote Land Mammals and Sea Creatures

"I wrote the novel for my MFA thesis at the University of British Columbia. I had to write a novel within a certain timeframe. The first idea that randomly came to me was about the environment — what if it got so bad that the animals didn't want to live anymore? Then it was about coming up with characters that would go around this scenario.

What if it got so bad that the animals didn't want to live anymore?- Jen Neale

"I've written a lot of short stories with magical and fabulous elements to them. Fantastical elements are much easier to sustain in a short story because you can just stay completely in that imaginary space. I did find it a challenge for the novel in trying to maintain both the realistic storyline of the characters and then this magical element with the animals.

"I think they worked out, in a parallel fashion, in the end. They didn't necessarily directly inform each other, but they both had their own track within the story."

Read more in her interview with CBC Books.

Interviews with Jen Neale

Debut Canadian author Jen Neale on the importance of writing fiction with empathy and compassion

4 years ago
Duration 2:49
In the latest episode of the CBC Books' video series Why I Write, the debut author talks about writing with empathy and offers timely writing advice for emerging authors.