Caroline lines in Maryland with her husband and dogs. Her experience working with the ecology has translated into a fiction book about a world disaster and how people react it.

She is a scientist and uses her knowledge to infuse her stories with scientifically accurate information. This doesn’t mean that the books aren’t exciting – I mean if the world is ending, you want to know how to fix it? Caroline hopes her books bring awareness of what could really happen if we aren’t careful of our ways.

Her Book


The Naturalist’s Notebook (thenaturalistsnotebook.com)

Tom’s Picks

Visit Tom’s store – https://riverrunbookstore.com

A Very Mercy Christmas

The Pigeon will Ride the Roller Coaster


the Candy House

The Lost Metal

A World of Curiosities

Strangers to Ourselves

Under the Skin



Stephen: Hit record when we came in new. It must not have taken it. So let’s back up. I wanna hear all this again. I don’t wanna miss anything. So that was a dry run practice. Okay. It’s the night before your big speech. , I apologize. I’m glad I looked up and saw that it wasn’t recording before we got all the way through Everything.

So am I. Yeah. Once again, this is like deja vu for me. I’m welcoming Carolyn to the Discover Word Smith podcast. But I’m the only one that knows you at the moment. So let’s back up since we’re now recording. And tell everybody a little bit about you and where you live and some things you like to do.

Remember? Okay. Remember we, we talked about that, so you should know the answer.

Caroline: My memory’s not that bad. . Okay. I’m from Maryland. I’m from Delaware originally, but I live in Maryland. What behind me is not my house, it’s my father-in-law’s house. I’m staying with him this week, but he’s in Maryland too.

And I don’t know if you can see it. We’ve got this gorgeous day outside, just that’s the Miles River. Chesapeake Bay is that way. Nice. And my background, let’s see. I like to say I went to a bunch of small weird schools, mostly in New England. I have a degree in conservation biology.

I’m a serious science geek, and I’ve been. I’ve approaching writing as a professional, with that kind of attitude. Since I was maybe 12 years old, I didn’t, I didn’t start publishing until I was in my twenties, but I’ve been obsessed with writing for a very long time. nice. What I do when I’m not writing, do I do anything when I’m not writing?

I like to hike. I like to paddle. I have a couple of beagles. They’re really cute. . I like to

Stephen: cook. You like to cook? We were talking about Thanksgiving and how we were getting ready for Thanksgiving coming up. And tell us again what you said about what you think of the Thanksgiving

Caroline: holiday.

Yes, I said. In my opinion, Thanksgiving is a cooking holiday, and when you’re done cooking, you invite people over to eat the food so it doesn’t go to waste. Yep.

Stephen: Totally agree. Now I’m, I’ve got a couple new interesting recipes. I’ve been trying I like to make Aztec hot cocoa, Hey, Thanksgiving.

Which is something different. I know. Other people have, various things. I, I. When I started cooking the Turkey, it, my father wasn’t very happy because he always wanted to cook the Turkey, but to be truthful, his Turkey was always a little dry. And I thought mine was much more moist. , we’ll just leave that where it’s at

Now your book, cause you’ve got conservation background. Your book is based on that idea. Tell us why you wanted to write this book and a little bit about what the book’s about. Okay.

Caroline: There’s some things about our world that bug me. Environmental degradation, violence, bigot.

All sorts of things. And on a good day I can focus on productive and constructive ways to pursue my ideals and all of that. And on a bad day, I just wanted all to go away and we can start over. So about 10 years ago, I started basically trying to cheer myself. With a lot of daydreaming about option B, civilization’s gonna collapse, something else is gonna happen afterwards.

It’s just gonna be better. And

but I, I got uncomfortable with that because I was daydreaming about a scenario that if it actually happened, would involve a huge amount of suffering and loss and just awful stuff. Really is a way to keep myself honest. I started thinking about what it would be like to actually live through this.

Civilization collapses the thing that comes next. It’s not like Mad Max World. It’s like nice not literally a utopia, it’s believable. They’re there, but nice. A lot of things that bug me, they’re just not an issue anymore or substantially.

but what’s it like to get there? What’s it like to live through that kind of change?

Stephen: Almost a dystopian world that’s going to something better rather than just all dystopian

Caroline: I think it’s really, know, there’s a dystopian phase. Yes. . But I like to refer to this book as post-apocalyptic optimism. There you go.

Stephen: I like that. Yes.

Caroline: Yeah, so the basic setup it’s 20 years after the collapse. By the way, I, the thing that I used to make the collapse happen was a.

Global Pandemic and I published the book in summer of 2019. So then when Covid happened, that was weird. It’s all your fault,

Quite possibly. So 20 years after the collapse and there’s this young woman, Elsie she. Was a cop, but she’s retraining to be an environmental educator, which is really a growth industry, by the way, in her world, because everybody wants to know how to rebuild society and not cause all these environmental problems.

She’s in training and starts having these basically memory flashbacks of a forest. that she played in as a kid. And that’s all that she remembers of her childhood. She doesn’t even know where it was. What her childhood home was. We just, you just not know. Imagine not knowing where you’re from.

So her professional mentor, Andy, Who’s older? He was an adult when the collapse happened. He’s an ecologist, so he says, this forest that you’re remembering, it couldn’t have just grown anywhere. There are particular places where different kinds of forests can go. So we’re gonna see how much of this forest you can remember and see if we can figure out where your home was.

So then the story becomes, Kind of detective story slash road trip through post-apocalyptic New England. Okay.

Stephen: So how, what, what genre you, you mentioned dystopian optimism. Would you say people that like dystopian would like it or do you it’s something that maybe they wouldn’t? Cuz they’re all about Mad Max.

The world’s destroyed and we’re killing each. Is there a particular genre or type of person that may like this, maybe a book or something that’s similar to give people an idea?

Caroline: Yeah, group of the one group of, and I think anybody can enjoy my book, but if I have to imagine, the center of the target audience.

Yeah. Science Geeks . Okay. Yeah I’m not a huge dystopia fan, so I don’t know what people who are fans of that genre would think of this. One of the one of the reviews on my Amazon list for this book I thought it was interesting. They said, I don’t usually like dystopias, but I did like this.

Because it’s not a dystopian, I don’t understand that, that, anyway

Stephen: that’s you should use that. That’s perfect. It, like you said, dystopian optimism. So that’s something new different that, that could definitely appeal to certain types of people. Yeah.

Caroline: I think that’s great.

Actually. I discovered there actually is, and I didn’t know this when I was writing, but there is actually a teeny tiny new genre that it fits into pretty well, and that’s solar. And that’s Fiction about what a sustainable society would actually look like, because in, in my book it’s, there’s no more fossil fuels.

So the way the economy works is completely different. The way technology works is completely different. You get these weird mashups where people are getting around in ox carts and things, and there’s. A character who has a robotic exoskeleton, , ,

Stephen: I like that. Cause things like Firefly and even Star Wars have that where it’s a mash of some old tech like the carts and then new tech blasters and robots.

But it’s melded almost steam punkish a little bit almost.

Caroline: Yeah. You use what works and you stop using what doesn’t. and then you end up in this mix. It makes people go, huh? Let’s see, books that are most similar. The closest one I can think of. And it’s by no means new anymore.

Flight Behavior by Barbara King Solver. Yeah, that was about scientists, about ecologists. and the framing of that book is certain ecological problems related to climate change. But at the same time, it really gets into the personal issues that the characters are having and it uses. It uses sci, the science to develop the interpersonal themes in a way that’s similar to what I’m trying to

Stephen: do.

Okay. So if people have read that book, they might be interested in this. And I love the solar punk genre. That’s a new one. I haven’t heard of that one yet. Not that I’ve heard of all of them. . And you said the book came out in 2019. Do you have plans for a follow up or are you doing another book standalone, or what’s coming up for you?

Caroline: I’m working on a sequel. In fact the, the computer that I’m using for this interview, the sequel is actually up on another window in the sense . Okay.

You’re sharing a screen right now with the not that I could see both. That would be distracting, but , right? Yeah. The next one, oh it’s been a trip. I I set out to write, standard sequel. Okay, it’s 15 years later, what are the characters doing now?

And it didn’t work and I couldn’t make it work. And I tried for years to make it work and it didn’t work. And so then I tried this and I tried that and I tried this other thing and then I, okay, whatever. I’m going. Throw out half the book and see what’s left. Okay. Got it. And okay, now this is too short.

So what if I add this other stuff that I have kicking around? So I just put all this in here. It’s turning into a collection of novellas and short stories that are all, one of them is the, what the characters are up to 15 years later. But then there are all of these other stories that are set.

Different parts of the same world and character, a bit character in the One story will be a protagonist in the other. And it’s really coming together now. I am in I’m in revisions and fingers crossed, I hope it, I hope to come out with it sometime next. Okay,

Stephen: good. Great. Now, do you have a website and where’s your book available now?

Caroline: My book is available lots of places. Amazon, you can’t really, you can’t really get away without Amazon. It’s on my publisher’s website. My publisher, saltwater Media, they go look at their website. They have a storefront that’s on. . Every online seller that I’ve looked at has it on their list.

I can search my book and it comes up. If you’re looking for my work, by the way, the thing to do is to use my name as a search term because Other people can use titles that are similar to mine, but nobody has my name but me. I’m the only Caroline Lanis in the world. I’m not even kidding.

Use my name as a search term. My work comes up as easy as that. That’s great

Stephen: cuz when I moved to California I kept getting calls that I needed to pay for my Porsche cuz there was another Steven Schneider that had a Porsche wasn’t paying for. I’m like, here’s where I live. If you find a Porsche you can have it.

I don’t care. Come and tow it. . Oh wow.

Caroline: Yeah, I don’t I don’t have those props. I don’t have a Porsche either, but, yeah , I do have a website. It’s news from caroline.wordpress.com and I have a blog there where I talk about mostly what’s ever on my mind writing wise, but when I have news like a, a new book coming out or something I do put it on that blog and.

each of my books has his own page on the website and, that sort of thing.

Stephen: Okay, great. And if you had a choice someone came up to you, would you rather see your book turned into a movie or a TV show? Movie. Movie. Why is that? And who would play the parts you thought about that?

Caroline: I have

movie because.

I’ve watched enough movies that they influence how I think and There, there’s a movie in my head of this book, there isn’t a TV show. Oh, good. Got it. I thought about it, I daydream, okay, what if the movie producers come, what am I gonna tell ’em? I don’t think it’ll happen, I can hope. Let’s see. Who would play who? I used to think Russell Crow for Andy, but I’m leaning more towards Daniel Craig.

Nice. Okay. Although,

Who is the man who played the lead in Shan Redemption? Tim Robbins. Tim Robbins. Yeah. I don’t, I haven’t heard Hyde nor hair of him in years. I don’t even know if he’s still working, but yeah he could do it too, because Nice. Andy, is this sort of, mysterious and standoffish and weirdly capable person.

You don’t know what he’s thinking, but he can do anything. Got it. Okay. As for Elsie, I don’t know who would play her. But because it would have to be somebody young, it would have to be

it would have to be someone of color. Elsie is a black Latina. And

I don’t see enough current movies to know to know who fits in that category. These days. I’ve seen movies who have people who, where characters are similar to her, their personalities, and they can. Movie Bulworth came out like 20 years ago, 20, 25 years ago. I don’t remember the name of the woman who played the female lead.

Yeah. But she would’ve done it. Okay. Only, now she’s too way too old for the part. Yeah. Yeah.

Stephen: You gotta watch that. Okay. Let me ask you this. Carolyn what are some of your favorite books and authors that you’ve read through your.

Caroline: Oh. There’s so many. I could start listing favorite books today and not finish until next week.

Yeah, not the

Stephen: problem. What’s your top, top two or three?

Caroline: Oh, where’s it of Earth? See by Ursula Gwen. Nice. Excellent. Whenever I run into a problem when I’m writing, it’s always okay. How would La Gwen do this? Overstory, I forget the name of the author, came out a couple of years ago.

Yeah. That one doesn’t ring a bell. Oh, look it up. It’s it’s possibly the best constructed book I’ve ever read. In term, if I describe how it’s structured and what’s it about, you’d think, oh, there’s no way. That could work. That would just be too hard to write. And he pulls it off Nice.

It’s just amazing. Yeah books like that I really liked. Oh, now I’m having a brain fart. , the one writer who everybody who writes, wants to be like Ernest Hemingway. Okay. . For whom? The Bell Tolds. Oh, okay. I was cliched to Hemingway, but the thing is, my natural proclivity and what I started out doing when I first started writing was, all of these words. Just curly, cute sentences, just mellow drum and all this stuff. And I read his work and I thought, oh, okay, , just pair this down a little bit.

Worked a lot better. I don’t just read fiction though. I favorites I read this year there was a teeny little. Basically mini textbook on the physics of ocean waves. Wow. It’s just a lot of fun to read. , another one on mollusks, like all mollusks everywhere, introduction to that was awesome.

My friend Tom Wes you should read his. Not fiction, it’s, popular ecology, just, but just go read his books. You’ll be glad you did . Alright.

Stephen: Okay where you live there do you have a favorite bookstore you like to go to? Not really. Okay. Is there

Caroline: bookstores in other places though?

Stephen: Okay, what’s one of your favorite book? Pl bookstore else? ,

Caroline: the naturalist notebook on Mount Desert Island in seal Harbor. Yeah, town Seal Harbor and Mount Desert Island. Teeny little town, sneeze, you’ll miss it and yeah, it’s there. Main Street is basically one street with three buildings on one side and on there.

A restaurant that serves the best lobster roll on the island. And this bookstore, they have a location in Northwest Harbor too, but the Seal Harbor location’s better. It’s bigger and it’s, the place is run by a couple of science teachers and art teachers. And they basically got every book that they like and they put it in this old house.

And they’re. Science books ranging from children’s books to popular science to, hardcore dichotomous keys that have everything you ever wanted to know about sedges, or whatever. And art supplies and science toys and these miniature little museum type things like, a display this big and you look into it and there’s like the solar system or the human heart or time or whatever it is.

And it’s just, every time I go to Mount Desert Island, it’s a rule. I have to go to that bookstore and spend, a couple of hours just wandering around and then waste much money and and we get lobster rolls.

Stephen: Nice. Yeah, we actually went through Mountain Desert Island last time I was in Maine, so I know the area.

I’ll have to look for it next time I go. Maybe next summer we’re going. Nice. Alright, Carolyn, before we talk about some author stuff if someone said, Hey, I heard you wrote a book. Why should I get your book and read it? What would you tell ’em? Because you’ll like it. Okay. There you go. Boom. Done. , that’s your word for your advertising.

Caroline: I, there’s, if there’s a lot of cool science in it, there’s some good perspectives. I’ve had somebody say that it’s, how I talk about sustainability issues and the very real risks that we face. A global pandemic, shutting down civilization is really unlikely. It’s not gonna be that, it probably won’t be that, but something could, we are vulnerable in certain specific ways.

That part is very real and I’ve had people come up to me and say that reading my book, got them thinking about that sort of thing. Had one person say that he changed his life, which was interesting. , I hope he changed it for the better. But see,

but at the end of the day, you’re gonna, it’s a novel and you’re gonna read a novel cuz you like it. And you’re gonna this one.

Stephen: Good. Nice. Okay if anyone asks now you got your answer. . So I appreciate you sharing the book with us, telling us about it.