Monday, August 24, 2009

Douglas Carlton Abrams

For most of you who are regular readers here, the name Douglas Abrams is a familiar one. I'm a fan of the wonderful, intelligent person and the talented author this man is. Both his books have been exceptional, passionate, and thoroughly engaging reading experiences. Today, Doug is talking about his second novel, EYE OF THE WHALE. Like The Lost Diary of Don Juan, this book resonates with his personal convictions and passions, while being written in lyrical, and flowing style. I'm reading EYE OF THE WHALE for the second time already, and fine-tuning a review that I will share with you soon. In the meantime, I'd like you to "meet" Doug Abrams, a special friend, and a remarkable author... the story he has to tell you in this new novel - which is currently in the Top Ten Best-sellers on the San Fransciso lists - is both timely and important to us all. So, get a copy of it for yourself, and settle in to experience something very, very special. Now, over to Mr. Abrams....

When I began researching my current novel, Eye of the Whale, I had no idea quite how devastating our impact on the aquatic ecosystem has been—and how what we are doing to water is affecting us on the land. I had no idea, for example, that killer whales are filled with flame retardants—chemicals that are compromising their immune systems and ours. I had no idea that beluga whales are so filled with toxic chemicals that when they wash up dead on shore, they must be treated like toxic waste. Let me explain how I began a journey that took me to swim with the humpback whales and cage dive with the white sharks in search of answers.

I start out every novel with a question, not an answer. One day, I was sitting by the fire reading my twin daughters a children’s story about a trapped whale, just after another whale had swum up the Thames. A scientist friend was visiting and started telling me some astonishing facts about new environmental dangers to our children’s and other animals’ health on the land and in the water.

I asked myself: what if these events were connected? What if whales and humans were threatened by the same dangers? I knew that the answer to this question would result in a thrilling and important story. I had no idea when I started quite how thrilling and important the story I discovered would be.

I discovered that there is an environmental threat as grave as global warming, and it is doing to our bodies and the rest of the animal world what global warming is doing to our climate. It is called endocrine disruption—toxic chemicals are shifting our fundamental physiological processes in the body. It has been linked to a rise in infertility, childhood cancers, breast and prostate cancer, birth defects, even autism and the decrease in the number of boys that are being born. We know what’s happening at the macro, but I had no idea what was happening at the micro level.

That day when I was sitting by the fire reading to my daughters, I asked myself a question that was both deeply personal and universal. It is a question that many of us are increasingly asking ourselves: Can we survive, and what might be stronger than our greed, our fear, and our denial?

I needed an answer to this question, and there is no better place to ask questions about the future than in the fictional world. I did get an answer to my question. There is indeed something that is stronger than greed, fear, and denial, but I better not say more or I may give away too much of the story.

I do think there is hope. Writing this book terrified me, but it also gave me hope. What is important is not just to lament the long litany of environmental destruction—that most of the edible fish in the oceans will be gone by 2050 from overfishing and that coral reefs are dying faster than anyone anticipated. What we need is to understand how all these individual tragedies fit together and are caused by the relationship that we have to the wild and to the environment as a whole. Writing this novel was my attempt to understand how it all fits together and how we might just be able to turn it around.

To learn more, visit Doug at his website, and get your copy of the book at any of the places listed below, or your local book store.

Douglas Carlton Abrams:



  1. Hi Doug,

    Thank you so much for giving us some insight into your book and the research that you took part in. And the thought that you were reading to your daughters when the idea came to life for you really warmed my heart.

    Congratulations on how well the book is doing, but I have to ask if this is something that a younger adult could read. It sounds intriguing and one of my daughters is actually in love with things in the sea world.

    Let me know and thanks so much for sharing with us.

  2. Thank you for writing a book that brings light to our fragile little planet. I hope it is read and understood by every individual, that every little thing they do can make a difference in our future!


  3. How interesting and enlightening, at the same time, bothersome. and what an amazing journey the research must have been for this novel

  4. Wow, what an insightful post. It is frightening to think of what is happening to the ecosystem. I hope your book does well to get that message out there.
    Great post.

  5. So true what you said on research you did for this book. And the book sounds wonderful--will have to read it.


  6. Sadly, the long term effects chemicals have on the ecosystem is often overlooked when they are used. I have spent time in the arctic, and it is sad that for a place that has little plant life, certainly no crops, that pesticides are found in the snow pack.
    Brominated fire retardants are never going to go away; for all there is an issue of their longevity and bioacculumation up the food chain, their use has saved countless lives by slowing down the spread of lethal fire. I do know companies are looking at ways to reduce the leaching of these into the environment, and their release is strictly monitored and kept to a minimum.
    It is a hard thing to have to rate one life above another.....
    Sometimes, the impact of what we do as a race isn't felt for year and years - by that time, it is too late. All we can do is learn from this, and be aware of the effects our actions have on our micro and macro environments.
    I truly hope it isn't a case of too little understanding too late.

    LJ x


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