343 Hertford Circle
Decatur, GA 30030
Biography - After growing up in a small town on Georgia?s coastal plain, Melissa Walker completed undergraduate and doctorate degrees in English at Emory University in Atlanta. For over 20 years she taught writing and literature, first at the University of New Orleans and later at Mercer University in Atlanta, where she served as Chair of the English Department. In 1990 she became a fellow in the Institute of Women?s Studies at Emory University. During these years she wrote Down from the Mountaintop: Black Women?s Novels in the Wake of the Civil Rights Movement (Yale Univ. Press, 1991) and also a popular textbook, Writing Research Papers: A Norton Guide (New York, Norton, 4th ed. 1997). She also raised a family and, like many Americans, became increasingly concerned about environmental issues and what kind of world her children and grandchildren would likely inherit.
In the last two decades she has become an outspoken environmental activist and wilderness advocate and has continued to write. In 1994 Norton published Reading the Environment. Her next book, Living on Wilderness Time (University of Virginia Press, Sept. 2002) tells about a personal journey of discovery to learn first-hand about America?s wild places. Shortly after turning fifty, Walker began a two-hundred-day solitary quest that took her to places as diverse as the windswept Everglades, Arizona?s sky islands, the northern Rockies, the red rock canyons of southern Utah, the rain forests of the Northwest, and finally, Alaska. The Georgia Writers Association chose Living on Wilderness Time as the winner of the Best Memoir of the Year Award.
Melissa Walker served for ten years on the national board of Wilderness Watch , and has been the President of the Georgia chapter. She also served on the Executive Council of the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment (ASLE) and was Vice Chair of the Southern Appalachian Council of the Wilderness Society.
Since 2001, Melissa has made ten trips to Alaska, all but one for extended periods of time. She has traveled to both the Alaskan Arctic and the Canadian Arctic to learn about polar bears and the challenges they face as the climate warms. Walker?s first children?s book, A Place for Delta, is about the rescue of an orphaned polar bear cub and is set in both the Alaskan Arctic and the Appalachian mountains of north Georgia. It was published in June 2010 and has won this year?s International Book Award for Best Children?s Fiction. Currently Walker is working on a sequel.
Critical Description of Work:
I have begun each of my books with a sense of adventure and excitement about what I would learn. All have required considerable research and travel. After completing my third book?Reading the Environment?about the growing number of threats to our planet, I felt overwhelmed, and I knew that what I needed to do was to focus on just one of the threats, and then to write a book about it. I chose wilderness. Exploring and camping in various parts of our National Wilderness Preservation System allowed me to turn a corner in my life, and to write Living on Wilderness Time. In unexpected ways, writing this book led me to Alaska and ultimately to the Arctic. Once again isolated, this time in a cabin near Homer, Alaska, I began my first children?s book, A Place for Delta. One book always seems to lead to another, and in the summer of 2010 I began the sequel to the Delta book.