Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Eric Simons, author of DARWIN SLEPT HERE, Profiled in San Francisco Chronicle

Eric Simons, author Darwin Slept Here, is profiled in today's San Francisco Chronicle: "When Eric Simons grew tired of larking about on a glacier in Tierra del Fuego, it was snowing hard, so he found a shop with books in English, bought a copy of "The Voyage of the Beagle" by Charles Darwin and read the naturalist's charming prose. Simons, 24 then and 28 now, was hooked. He'd had a rigorous grounding in biology from his Castro Valley high school teacher and in evolution from his undergraduate days as a science major at UC Santa Barbara. He'd served a stint writing for a couple of small Bay Area newspapers, but now he was footloose and adventure-hungry at the bottom of the world, where Darwin - seasick aboard the Beagle - had once sojourned briefly. The result of that chance and chilly encounter with history was a quick flight home, a decision to retrace at least some of the naturalist's path, and a twice-over-deeply self-study of Darwin's seminal "On the Origin of Species," plus all the other Darwin writings Simons could lay his hands on. Then came the footsteps: "I wanted to capture his adventures," Simons says. "I wanted to share his experiences and feel the same feelings he must have had because everything in the Beagle book told me Darwin was so joyful, whether he was saddling up with gauchos in Patagonia, or climbing a mountain in Chile, or kicking his heels in the air while he was lying down with a herd of inquisitive camel-like guanacos in a field near Buenos Aires." Simons graduated from UC Berkeley's journalism school last year and his first book is just out. It's called Darwin Slept Here, subtitled "Discovery, Adventure, and Swimming Iguanas in Charles Darwin's South America," published by Overlook Press."

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