RCRA Summit and ASTSWMO Annual Meeting, in Washington, DC, October 26-28, 2016.
Registration closes September 30th, 2016.
ASTSWMO Mid-Year Meeting, Renaissance Hotel in Cleveland, OH, April 26-27, 2017.
Registration not open.
ASTSWMO UST Workshop, May 23-25, 2017, Louisville, KY.
Registration is not open.
ASTSWMO Joint Hazardous Waste and Materials Management Training, Summer 2017.
More information to come!
Q&A with ASTSWMO member Sean Smith, WA Department of Ecology, regarding his experience as a published writer of thrillers featuring our Nation's National Parks.
Q: How long have you been writing?
A: I've been writing most of my life. As a small child, I used to weave complicated stories and envision how I would make movies and stories I'd read better. However, I got serious about writing roughly 4 years ago after I hired a life coach (David Robinson). He asked me pointblank what I wanted to do with my life. I said I wanted to write a book. Since then I've published two novels, a third is due out this Christmas, and I have a premise for a fourth.
Q: Can you walk us through the premise of your stories (genre, setting, etc.)?
A: My novels are political thrillers set in national parks like Yellowstone, Gettysburg, and Mount Rainier. Park Ranger, Grayson Cole, is the central character. My first novel, Unleashing Colter's Hell, is about a terrorists plot to ignite the Yellowstone super volcano and destroy the United States. The second is called Lost Cause and is a race across America to find a relic owned by Robert E. Lee which could give the finder the power to start the second Civil War. The third novel is called Need to Know and takes place at Mount Rainer. High on its volcanic slopes is an object that if revealed could shake the effort for world peace to its foundation. The fourth novel will be set in Glacier and concerns an arson caused fire that destroys the cure for cancer. “Who would want to destroy a cure that could help millions?” is the central question of this next novel.
Q: Where do you draw inspiration for your stories?
A: In my previous life I was a National Park Ranger. I worked at some of America's most iconic parks and monuments like Yellowstone, Glacier, the North Cascades, and Mount St. Helens. While working at Yellowstone, I saw a James Bond movie in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. During the film, it occurred to me that I had done many of the things that Bond had done. I've piloted aircrafts, rappelled off high cliffs, shot guns and rifles, and raced fast cars. I have even done a few things Bond hasn't, like confront Grizzly Bears and fight wildfires. About the only thing I hadn't done was chase down terrorists. While watching the movie, I asked myself why isn't there a James Bond equivalent about the iconic American hero, the park ranger. I never found what I was searching for, so I decided to write the thrillers myself.
Q: What have you found most easy/ difficult about your writing process?
A: Finding time to write is probably the most difficult aspect of the process. Currently, I write about 30 minutes a day during my lunch break. While I'd appreciate more time to write, carving out this half hour has allowed me to churn out a book about every two years. The easiest part of the writing process is coming up with new ideas. I'm continually thinking about scenarios or “what if” situations in which to place my protagonist. In fact, I've probably got more ideas than I'll ever have time to write about.
Q: How does your work in the environmental field influence you and your writing?
A: The environmental field and the people who dedicate their lives to protecting our environment are central to my writing. In my civil service career I've been struck by the level of dedication and passion that my colleagues have for protecting our citizens, environment, and economy. I don't believe the public truly appreciates the long hours and hard work that goes into keeping our waters, air, and land clean. As such, my books center on a small part of this effort and hopefully give my readers insight into the working conditions and challenges that these people face every day.
Q: The book that inspired the blockbuster film “The Revenant” was written part time by a government employee. Are you hoping to see your characters on the silver screen. If so, what celebrity would you most want to portray your main character?
A: I'd love to see my novels made into a movie. (Hollywood producers feel free to give me a call!) I think every author harbors that wish. However, until Hollywood knocks on my door I'll continue to sharpen my writing skills, remain on the lookout for the next story premise, and continue to market my current books. As to who should play Grayson on the silver screen, I get this question a lot. My readers have told me they imagine in their mind's eye someone like George Clooney, Jake Gyllenhaal, or even Matt Damon in the role. These are all great actors. For me, it would need to be someone who can play a character who loves being a park ranger and the idea of national parks. Grayson is a more subtle character than Bond. He doesn't necessarily burst into a room guns blazing. Grayson also doesn't take himself too seriously, but he is deeply committed to the idea of the national park. While Grayson is a good looking guy, he doesn't rely on his looks to achieve his goals. Rather, he uses his understanding of the natural world, his park ranger training, and the help of others to outwit the bad guys. So to answer the question directly, I've been impressed with Leonardo Dicaprio's work in the Revenant and the Aviator. He would be great as Grayson. Yet, I've also really enjoyed Matthew McConaughey in films like Interstellar and the Dallas Buyers Club. He too would make an outstanding Grayson Cole.
As you can guess Smith is pretty passionate about national parks, he recently gave a Tedx Talk on "Why we should protect these special places? Why protect national parks?"
Readers who want to pick up a copy of Smith's books can find them here: bit.ly/parkthrillers.
To learn more about Smith's novels and his love of national parks, please visit his blog at National Park Blog!