After reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars series, I wanted to write a book in which the landscape was very nearly its own character. I hoped to write a novel about what it’s like to go so deep into another culture that you are irrevocably changed, and in a very real sense can never go home again. I wanted to write about what adventurers like Alexandra David-Neel, Richard Burton, and T.E. Lawrence went through when they came home after all their adventures. I wanted to riff on that amazing moment in The Left Hand of Darkness where Genly Ai, after decades on the planet of Winter, finally sees his own people, and finds them alien.
I hoped to challenge my readers. To thrust them into a truly alien landscape, turn them upside down, and give their worldview a good shaking. I wanted people to fall in love with slimy aliens that eat their young, and expect their elders to kill themselves. More than that, I hoped my readers would come to see the world through the eyes of the Tendu.
There have been reams of tragic hand-wringing written about the destruction of our planet’s rain forests, and not nearly enough about what makes that ecology so incredible. I hoped to help save the rainforest by helping my readers experience the complexity, the diversity, and the sheer awesome beauty of the rain forest.