Conceived in the Fall of 1991, Children of the Air is the love child of neglect and perseverance. Eagles showed up in dreams to spur me on when the neglect got to strong. One, with wings like Gabriel and a beak like Gonzo, alit upon the playground of my childhood elementary school. Another, from the cramped confines of a glass terrarium, glared at me like the mama eagle pictured below. The final push came on January 7, 2016, when there were only a few sentences left to revise. A real live bald eagle flew within 50 feet of me. Ninety minutes later I saw it fly the other way downriver. Within a month, my novel was on its way to the printer.

I published an advanced reader copy of Children of the Air in 2014. Uncle Jim read it and expressed a wish for a happier ending. Being a melancholy writer, I had thought the ending positively uplifting, but I added a new chapter for good measure. Soon after, I realized, to my horror, that I had forgotten to read the novel out loud. So I took it to Crackskull’s Coffee and Books in Newmarket, NH, and started reading chapters to a crowd of writers that gather monthly for Prose, Poetry and Popsicles. Then I was connected to a "peer critique partner" through the New Hampshire Writers' Project. Gary Devore pointed out VERY helpfully, that Alfric the owl went from paralyzing empathy to unabashed predation with no transition. So I rewrote him so thoroughly that he transitioned to Æthel. Finally, I asked a local friend, Diana Evans, to read it and tell me if it was ready for publication. She answered with a resounding and encouraging yes, so here it is. Thanks, everyone!


(in order of appearance)


a bald eagle


Corwynn’s mate

Melissa  Peabody

a girl

Mary Peabody

Melissa’s mother

 Calvin Berman

a stranger

Ed Nowlen

Mary's father


a dog


a great-horned owl

Billy Jensen

a boy

Kiki Jensen

Billy’s daughter


a cat

Two eagles awake to the sound of thunder, or rather, a helicopter that hovers overhead. While mama eagle flees, papa defends their eggs but is captured, leaving mama to raise three eaglets by herself.

Speaking of single moms, Mary is overwhelmed by Lissy’s teenage surliness, so when Mary’s father dislocates his hip, sending Lissy to assist him seems a blessed relief until she discover he’s just taken in a runaway with a wounded owl. Reluctantly, she decides to entrust her daughter’s fate to her father’s vigilance.

Shep is just an old dog, doing what old dogs do.

This is not a whimsical tale, but a poignant story of the banality of evil, the impotence of good and the unexpected voice that suggests that what we do, for good or ill, might actually matter.

©2016 The Mottled Speck • PO Box 367 • Tamworth, NH 03886