What was the best thing about writing this book? I loved the adventure of not knowing where the snail or the book-writing process would take me. I wrote the book slowly, over four years, and during that time things happened in the world and my personal life and some of those things found their way into the writing. The writing process is very interesting, mostly very hard, sometimes quite unexpected, and sometimes quite amazing.
What inspires you? Life, the natural world, that we are living on this planet at this moment in time—the complexity of nature and of human beings and all animals. That somehow our species and all the other species on earth have survived thus far. Since only 1% of all species that have ever lived are still alive, I love to try to imagine what the now extinct 99% of species might have looked like.
What was the most interesting fact that you discovered when writing this book? There were way too many interesting facts that I discovered to single one out. In fact it was the plethora of astonishing things I learned about the life of a snail that really fascinated me. Here you have a very small creature, not much more than an inch in size and less than an ounce in weight and it leads this intensely interesting life—maybe a slow life, but a very full life with good meals and comfortable places to sleep.
What was one of the best things that happened because of this book? There were many wonderful adventures while researching and writing the book and now the book itself is having wonderful adventures as it launches in many countries around the world. I love that a small book about a small subject has travelled to many countries that I’ll never get to see myself.
Who do you really admire? I rarely put anyone or anything on a pedestal. I admire the way evolution continues nonstop and species, the ones that survive, keep adapting.
What is your earliest memory? A willow tree that was in the backyard of a house I grew up in. I thought it was so incredibly graceful the way the branches swept down so low. There was a swing that hung from a branch and I spent a lot of time on that swing looking up into the tree.
What are your favourite tools? I am very fond of a little letter opener that I have. I wish I had more chance to use it on real letters but most people send e-mail these days so it mostly gets used only for opening bills.
What is something that most people wouldn’t know about you? I used to ride a unicycle! I still have my old Schwinn unicycle from the 1970s.
Who else would you like to write a book about? There are many animals that interest me. This summer I daydreamed about being a goat herder and writing about goats. They have such an amazing amount of personality and a keen curiosity.
What are you working on next? I had an essay come out after the book, ‘A Green World Deep in Winter: The Bedside Terrarium’. The essay is available for free reading/download on the bio page of my website www.elisabethtovabailey. I have also been kept quite busy with this first book! I am delighted to say ‘The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating’ is getting adopted into the schools in the U.S. at all curriculum levels from K-12 and higher education. So it’s been fun to start to work with the book in the educational field.
Read my review of ‘The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating’ here.