UCCE advisor's new book featured in San Francisco Book Review

Jan 29, 2015

UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor Rachael Freeman Long wove her scientific knowledge into a book series for children, reported the San Francisco Book Review in conjunction with the release of the second book in the trilogy. Valley of Fire details protagonist Jack's adventures in the Black Rock Desert with his animal friends, Sonny the coyote and Pinta the bat.

The Book Review's Susan Roberts conducted an interview with Long, exploring her inspiration for the series, writing challenges, research and more.

Long said her young son inspired her to create the characters in the book. During long drives, she would tell him stories.

"After 12 years of storytelling, I had this collection of unique adventures," Long said.

One of the challenges she encountered was turning off her bent for science and letting creativity flow.

"I'm a science writer and facts come easy for me, but describing what feeling sad or happy looks like takes work," Long said. "I love my creativity in figuring out the plotting, but writing in all the descriptive details is still challenging."

During the interview, Long told the SF Book Review about a research project she conducted in her UC Cooperative Extension work to determine what bats eat at night and their value to farmers. She and her staff collected guano, which revealed which insects they were eating.

"One farmer has a 300-acre walnut orchard and he estimates he has bout 15,000 bats," Long said. "The study we worked on showed each bat provided $6 of pest control services. The farmer received about $90,000 worth of services."

Long's book is available in paperback and digital download on the Tate Publishing website and in Kindle edition on Amazon.com.

By Jeannette E. Warnert
Author - Communications Specialist