OTF: Grass, Trees, and Rex Pickett on the Real Maya…

I try to create meaty, well-thought posts, but more and more lately I’ve had less and less time. In fact, post ideas often fly into the open windows of my mind to get forgotten in the corners or (if I’m lucky) jotted down quickly — and then forgotten in the corners.

New tack: I’m going to try to do “On the Fly” (OTF) posts as part of my blogging regime to get these little blurbs down so (a) I don’t forget them and (b) I can keep some semblance of a regular posting schedule.

For this OTF post, two items:

Straw Dogs – Margaret Atwood’s new book In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination is available in a limited straw-paper edition. According to this article in The Globe and Mail, Canopy, an enviromental group in Vancouver, wants to stop using 400-800 year old trees to make “bank statements and junk mail”. I’d agree, except the paper made in my neck of the woods is from pine trees — pine trees that are considerably younger than even 100 years old. I’m not sure old-growth forests are used for the pulp and paper industry any more (correct me if I’m wrong).

Did I mention that the straw used to make the paper is from China? The problem is not that there isn’t enough straw in Canada (you know, the breadbasket of the world and all that) but because there aren’t any facilities to refine it.

Anyway, I like this idea as a book collectible (any limited edition is a good edition, especially if it says Margaret Atwood on the cover) and even using straw is a cool novelty and proof of concept. But I can’t quite agree with the purported rationale. Not only is Northwestern Ontario’s forestry industry (where I live) capable of producing paper in an environmentally responsible way, we could use the work…

(BTW, Ontario alone has 85 billion trees, most of which are in Northwestern Ontario. Even at Canopy’s given savings rate of a half-billion trees per year, if that surplus was taken from Ontario it would take 170 years to run out in this province alone, assuming we actively stopped any more trees from ever growing here again…)

What’s better, farming Chinese straw or Canadian trees to make our books? When maintained properly, our forests are a renewable resource.

[Steps down from soapbox…]

Who’s Maya? – Rex Pickett has hosted several “ask the author” opportunities lately, which has been perfect for me because I don’t have to feel like a pest asking silly, inane questions about Sideways and Vertical and, more germane to this blog, the writing life.

Like this one:

You’ve made no secret that many characters are based on real people. Have you had any negative reactions to some of your portrayals? I’m wondering about Maya in particular — it seems in Vertical that you may have talked to the person who inspired that character after the movie… is that true, and how did it go? How do you handle negative (or positive) reactions?

As it turns out, I was wrong about Maya — I thought the character was based on one person. You can read Rex’s reply to my question here:


Gotta fly,


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