Library to Host ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ Author

Delia Owens will Discuss Her Writing at Foundation Benefit March 29

The Coeur d’Alene Public Library Foundation will host a Reading for the Library benefit featuring Delia Owens, author of “Where the Crawdads Sing,” as the presenter Friday, March 29, at 7 p.m.
The doors open at 6:15 p.m. Beer and wine will be available through the services of the Bakery by the Lake and refreshments – southern cuisine – will be provided. Tickets are $30 per person and are available at
The Well-Read Moose bookstore will have copies of the book to purchase for signing at the event.
This debut novel from a New York Times bestselling nature writer, relates the story of an unforgettable young woman, abandoned at age ten to survive alone in the wild coastal marsh of North Carolina. For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet fishing village. Kya Clark is barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when the popular Chase Andrews is found dead, locals immediately suspect her.
But Kya is not what they say. A born naturalist with just one day of school, she takes life's lessons from the land, learning the real ways of the world from the dishonest signals of fireflies. But while she has the skills to live in solitude forever, the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. Drawn to two young men from town, who are each intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world–until the unthinkable happens.
In “Where the Crawdads Sing,” Owens juxtaposes an exquisite ode to the natural world against a profound coming of age story and haunting mystery. Thought-provoking, wise, and deeply moving, Owens’s debut novel reminds us that we are forever shaped by the child within us, while also subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.
The story asks how isolation influences the behavior of a young woman, who like all of us, has the genetic propensity to belong to a group. The clues to the mystery are brushed into the lush habitat and natural histories of its wild creatures.
Owens is the co-author of three internationally bestselling nonfiction books about her life as a wildlife scientist in Africa including “Cry of the Kalahari.”
She has won the John Burroughs Award for Nature Writing and has been published in Nature, The African Journal of Ecology, and many others.
Owens was born in southern Georgia, and grew up riding horses in the woods around Thomasville. Her mother, also an outside-girl, encouraged Delia to explore far into the oak forests, saying “Go way out yonder where the crawdads sing.” Her mother taught her how to hike without stepping on rattle snakes, and most important not to be afraid of critters of any kind. Delia went on to spend most of her life in or near true wilderness, and since childhood has thought of nature as a true companion.
Since her family spent some of every summer in the mountains of North Carolina, Delia has a special attachment to the wild and beautiful places of that state. “Where the Crawdads Sing” is based in the lush Carolina coastal marsh.
 By the time she started university, she had decided to pursue a career in science, instead of literature. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology from the University of Georgia and a Ph.D. in Animal Behavior from the University of California in Davis.
Beginning in 1974, Delia and Mark Owens made their way into the Central Kalahari of Botswana and set up camp in a remote area the size of Ireland where they were alone except for the native people and the wildlife they were there to study.
The Owens radio collared and studied six lion prides for more than seven years. The Blue Pride's territory included the Owens' camp, and Sassy, Chary, and Blue often romped near the Owens' tents or ransacked the outdoor kitchen.
Delia and Mark also studied the elusive brown hyenas who came into camp almost every night. During these years, Delia became fascinated with the social groups of mammals which are almost always made up of females. The males come and go for mating or meals, but the females stay in their birth groups and maintain strong bonds with their pride or pack mates for life. These observations reminded Delia of the close bonds she had with her life-time girlfriends, and how strong the genetic propensity for female groups must be in our own species.
Based on their research and life in the Kalahari, she co-authored the bestselling, award-winning book, “Cry of the Kalahari.” Her research on the evolution of social denning in brown hyenas earned her a doctorate at the University of California, Davis.
From the Kalahari, the Owens ventured to the North Luangwa Valley of Zambia to continue wildlife research. Besides studying elephants, Delia and Mark established a program that offered jobs, loans, and other assistance to local villagers so they would not have to poach wildlife for a living.
Delia set up her own camp on the banks of the Luangwa River, and studied the social behavior of the elephants. Every year, she hiked the five major rivers of North Luangwa, observing the herds. In all, Delia conducted research on endangered species in Africa for 23 years. She published her research results in the scientific journals Nature, Animal Behavior, Journal of Mammalogy, Natural History, and others.
Her research and conservation work in Africa earned her the Golden Ark award from Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands and the University of California Award for Excellence. The project they began in Zambia continues to this day, funded in part by the Owens Foundation for Wildlife Conservation.
She said her research on the importance of female grouping in social mammals influenced her fictional writing.
‘“Where the Crawdads Sing” explores the behavioral impact on a young woman who is forced to live much of her young life without a group,” she said.
After more than two decades in Africa, Delia and Mark returned to the United States and searched for a wild place with lots of wildlife to be their new home. They contributed their experience, time and resources to the conservation of grizzly bears, wolves and wetlands.
Delia now lives in Idaho where she rides her horse and back-country skies as far into the wilderness as she can go. Elk, bears, moose and deer wander the meadows near her home, but every day she thinks of the elephants Gift and Georgia, the Blue Pride of lions and the Bemba people she knew so closely in Africa for so long.
She wants to continue writing fiction, especially mysteries that explore how our evolutionary past on the savannas influenced our current behavior in a world less wild.

Patrons who need accommodation to participate in library programs or services are asked to contact the staff prior to the activity by calling 208-769-2315 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..