Malcolm Campbell and I have been friends ever since I edited his first novel, Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire, for our publisher. In the ensuing years, we have discovered a shared intuition about the sacredness of our Mother the Earth. It is a frequent theme for both of us, although we write about it in vastly different ways.
An author of contemporary fantasy and magical realism novels, including Sarabande and The Sun Singer, Malcolm R. Campbell has been greatly changed by the voice of the wild in Florida’s Tate’s Hell Swamp and nearby Gulf coast, the Blue Ridge Parkway and Appalachian Trail, the 14,000-foot peaks in Colorado, and the stair-step valleys of Montana’s Glacier National Park.
It’s with great pleasure I present Malcolm and his views on what inspires him.
World of Wonder
“Walk gently here, brother to the grizzly bear and eagle, for the trails through this fragile ecosystem are trails through consciousness—the gem that catches the cascading light in the center of this crown of shining mountains.” – Malcolm R. Campbell in “Crown of the Continent,” Rosicrucian Digest, 1986
In the late 1980s, I wrote two articles about Glacier National Park and one about the Blue Ridge Parkway for a magazine’s “World of Wonder” series featuring natural and manmade wonders around the world. I’m addicted to wonder: my response to awe-inspiring places that epitomize the grace and grandeur of creation.
Like Thoreau, I believe that “in wildness is the preservation of the world,” whether a river runs through it, great trees and mountains seek the clouds above it, or a sea of grass covers it. Like the Huna mystic, I perceive our environment as sacred and conscious, and when I hear its voice manifesting as rain or wind or eagle (Píta), that voice becomes my primary inspiration as a writer.
The universe spoke, was speaking with Píta’s voice keeeee his vision clearing keeeee over a clarified world keeeee where he merged with his horizons. Lost in limitless light, he was an ocean of stars, a deep flowing tide of emotion, a flooding river of thought, wave after wave of energy, keeeee keeeee keeeee, heard the light coalesce and there the photons were named Mokakínsi, were named Grandmother, were named this person and that person, were named river, were named smoke rising, were named sun, were named cloud, were named lambs, were named autumn, were named God. – from Garden of Heaven: an Odyssey
Place is always part of my stories, for place contributes to what happens within its boundaries and imparts wisdom and warning to every character who comes into its presence. Fantasy and magical realism are my favorite methods for expressing nature’s voice. I use them without apology in the same way painters such as Albert Bierstadt infused their scenes with light, suggesting a transcendence exceeding the limits of science and logic.
The wonderment we experience through our five senses, when combined with intuition, journeying, and visions, is in my perception numinous in and of itself like a great hymn sung by the soul of the world and persistently everywhere like “the force” in Star Wars. As some poets and singers cannot understand human interactions outside the world of the blues, I cannot fathom characters and stories outside the light of nature.
The raven pulled his attention away from the sagging mattress and lumpy pillow. It scrutinized him from a close fence post just outside the dirty window—an alert shadow superimposed over a lifeless scene of curing-out range grass and rocky hills. Watch what birds watch, Grandfather always said. For Pete’s sake, this raven’s dusty black eyes were stubbornly watching him. – from The Sun Singer
When I see a raven sitting on a fence post, it’s an important space-time event within an interconnected moment because both of our lives will soon diverge along one path or another path because we perceived each other. If I’m preoccupied with thoughts about the past or the future, I miss a great opportunity when I miss the raven.
Writing about Helen of Troy, Christopher Marlowe asked, “Was this the face that launched a thousand ships?” I can understand the possibility, for the mutual gaze of raven and man can launch poems and wild places can launch novels and symphonies.
Nature is my constant and unquiet muse.
You can find Malcolm on the Web at
NEXT WEEK: Author Patricia Damery