Monday, 11 February 2013

Confessions of a rock junkie (novelist!) by Judi Hendricks

My name is Judi Hendricks and I'm a novelist. I have a confession to make; I'm a hopeless rock junkie.

Hiking girlWhen I was a child my pockets were always bulging with interesting stones that called to me on my peregrinations. I recall once running to catch up to my sister and having my little hiking shorts shimmy their way off of my hips and surrender to the pull of gravity because I had so many fascinating chunks of granite in my pockets. 

When taken to the museum on school outings, I'd be the lone child examining the marble plinths while everyone else was dutifully following the guide to learn how steam engines worked. And when I cracked open a geode and found it lined with fairy crystals, my whole world changed forever.

Judi Hendricks
How I managed not to formally study the origin of stones, I have no idea; instead studying psychology, ministry; then somehow wandered into teaching meditation and metaphysics, jewellery design, working in pharmaceutical research, and writing articles on those topics. 

Recently I've been writing a work of as yet-unpublished fiction, and a casual comment about the architectural use of a stone type posed by one of my characters about a British structure he'd seen once while travelling sent me scurrying to the internet to determine whether what I’d been intending to write was feasible for the region.

And under the Strategic Stone Study section heading I found what I needed, opening the county atlases, perusing all of the beautifully organized and lovingly illustrated brochures, and marvelling at how much human interest and labour had gone into compiling this massive database of information. 

Strategic Stone StudyI spent the next ten hours reading like a sponge, murmuring, ‘Oh…my!’ I knew myself to be in the company of kindred spirits. I was in rock junkie heaven!

I'm not a geologist, and know perfectly well that I haven't got a clue as to how to go about interpreting much of the information presented here. It’s so far over my head that I feel like a coal miner. And yet the language in the atlases particularly is perfectly pitched, being informative and educational without being overwhelming.

And even the little touches, like the Glossaries, were so appreciated. People have mental concepts for which they may not have words; I know from having run my hands over hundreds of rock surfaces in my life that some stone is crumbly and weathers easily, but I hadn't thought to use the word friable to describe that quality of stone, although it was a word I used commonly in gardening discussions to describe a particular soil type. 

Your site was filled with little ‘Aha!’ moments like that, sparkling bits of enlightenment that informed qualities of stone with which I was already familiar, giving me language to wrap around the concepts I already knew.

 And as the snow piles up over here in northern Illinois in the USA, I'm going to be spending some quality time wandering the countryside in the UK in my mind, getting to better know your beautiful, ancient stones. 

Thanks for listening. Judi Hendricks
Judi Hendricks
The ancient stones of Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland, from GeoScenic; the National Archive of Geological Photographs. 

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