About the Author

    
 
 
Kitty Beer’s stories and articles have appeared in print and online in the U.S. and Canada. Her screenplay, Home, placed in the 2004 PAGE International Screenwriting Awards contest. As an environmental journalist (writing as Kitty Mattes), she wrote for publications such as the Ithaca Journal, Syracuse Herald American, OnEarth, Environmental Action, and Harvard Magazine. She is a member of the National Writers Union, Grub Street, and the Society of Environmental Journalists.
 
Beer raised her son and daughter in Canada, Germany, and upstate New York, working as an editor for nonprofits. In Canada, she won a CBC short story contest, and published a short story in the Montrealer. She is the author of the book, In Your Hands: a Citizen’s Guide to the Arms Race. Her first novel about climate change, What Love Can’t Do, was published in 2006. She has been continuously active in community and political causes. At present she is a member of the Massachusetts Climate Action Network, United for Peace and Justice, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the media action group of MoveOn.org.

Kitty Beer grew up in New England. She holds her B.A. in English from Harvard University, and her M.A. in American Studies from Cornell University. She now makes her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Human Scale (2010) can be seen as a sequel to What Love Can’t Do. Completing the trilogy, The Hampshire Project takes place in 2082, as young Terra battles the evils of rampant climate change. The series is titled, Resilience: A Trilogy of Climate Chaos.                                    

                                             
 
 
                                                    Her Life                                                   

                                    

            True to her name, Kitty is well on the way to living (at least) nine lives. Born in Washington D.C., the first child of Samuel and Roberta Beer, she was lively and opinionated from day one. Her father had already begun his immersion in things political, helping to write speeches for FDR as the cloud of Hitler's Germany loomed. The couple was just back from England, where he'd been a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. By the time Kitty was three, the young family had moved to Massachusetts, where Sam began his doctoral studies at Harvard. Her sister Frances was born there; she and Kitty have been best friends ever since. 
            When Sam joined the army, Roberta and the children moved to Charlotte, Michigan, to her mother’s home. For the next three years, Kitty saw her father only twice, when he came home on leave. She recalls the letter he wrote to her on her seventh birthday, written in a tent in France, describing the rain on the roof as sounding like little footsteps. 
            In 1943 Kitty’s brother William was born, completing the family. After the war, the Beers moved to Cambridge, to their beloved Victorian house, 87 Lakeview Avenue. Built in 1873, it would remain the treasured family homestead for the next sixty-two years.
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  Growing Up
            Kitty started fourth grade in Russell School. She was terrible at math, and still is, but excelled at English and history.  She remembers writing a report on Lincoln, spread out on the living room rug with the Encyclopedia Brittanica, and the thrill of finding information and transposing it into her own words.
            Every evening after dinner, Pop read Dickens aloud to Kitty, who at 12 began writing stories. She also started her diaries around this time, recording a whole page every day. Reading them now gives a vivid picture of both typical adolescence and a unique social situation in the fifties.             
            As a preteen, Kitty's main interests were ballet and reading. She'd begun ballet lessons at nine, and by age 12 was taking classes several times a week, graduating to toe-shoes. At 10 she was already carrying home stacks of books from the library and even reading Thomas Hardy, whose depictions of the land thrill her still. Summers the family rented a house on Cape Cod. Those summers were part of her early experience feeling close to the natural world.
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                                                                                Tenure and Teens                                            
              One day in 1952 the family gathered for stupendous news--Pop got tenure at Harvard! "I didn't really understand what it meant," Kitty comments, " but it was a thrill to see how happy it made my parents." For the eighth grade, Kitty transferred to Buckingham School.When her father got a grant to study at Oxford University, the whole family lived in England for a year and Kitty spent her junior year of high school at Miss Keyes Young's Tutorial Academy for Young Ladies. The British education method emphasized depth rather than the American preference for breadth. For example, they read Chaucer and Virgil in the original.
             Kitty's lifelong love of France had begun when her father took her to Paris for her 13th birthday. The family was living in London that summer. When the family was in Oxford her junior year, she and Sally spent vacations in France.
 
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                                                  Marriage and Kids
              Kitty met her first husband, Gary Campbell, while they were both students at Harvard. Their son Duncan was born in New York City; later the family moved to Montreal, Canada, where daughter Amelia was born. Gary taught at McGill University. Kitty held various part-time clerical jobs over these years helping to support the family. In retrospect, she sees herself as following the pattern of so many girls at that time: get married and have kids as soon as you can; don't have ambitions or a career of your own. The words "career woman" were as suspect as "divorcee." Memories of that and her 50s girlhood underlie her vivid portrayal in her novels of women's oppression.

              When Betty Friedan's book, The Feminist Mystique, came along, it was an eye-opening illumination for all the young women of Kitty's generation. Kitty kept writing, and won a CBC short story contest, which was read over the air. She also published a story in The Montrealer, Montreal's New Yorker. She and Gary were enthusiastic supporters of the French Canadian effort to get more respect and clout. They also went to demonstrations against the Vietnam War, raging at that time. 
               "The late sixties were an exciting time," recalls Kitty. "We really did think we were going to change the world. And I guess we did,in a way." One of her most vivid memories is shaking hands with Martin Luther King. She was introduced to him by her father, who was chairman of Americans for Democratic Action at the time.

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                                           Adventure and Heartbreak

                After five years in Montreal, the young family moved to Munich, Germany. Gary had a two year appointment teaching English literature at the University of Munich. They lived on the third floor of Frau Braun's house with rose bushes lining the driveway.  Duncan went to the International School. Kitty and Amelia went shopping every day at the local merchants'--the baker, the butcher, the grocer. Kitty got a job teaching English a few hours a week at the Sprachenschule der Stadt. She'd studied German in Montreal, and now took classes at the university's Auslanderschule and the Berlitz School. 
                Gary got a job teaching at Hobart College in a tiny town in upstate New York. Kitty commuted to Cornell University working towards her Master's degree in American Studies.  When the marriage fell apart, Kitty and the kids moved to Ithaca, the charming small city where Cornell is located. "So," says Kitty, "that's how I became a single parent." She continued her graduate studies, teaching as well. She recalls particularly enjoying writing a paper on Chateaubriand and Cooper, comparing their very different attitudes towards wilderness. She was part of the initiation of Cornell's first women's studies program.
                "We were getting serious resistance from some faculty and administrators, so it was exciting and emotional.Our meetings, with women only, were intense. We knew we were making history. But it was hard going at times." She taught one of the very first courses, covering women writers like Kate Chopin who had long been out of print.
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                                               New Love, New Mission   
                In 1972, Kitty got married again and took a job as Public Relations Coordinator at Cornell's museum. There were many contented years in Ithaca, which has a cosmopolitain flair as well as lots of beautiful nature close by. Kitty loved to take their dog Jeff on long jaunts through the forest. Kitty and her husband did a lot of traveling, from Nassau to Rome, Hawaii to London. 
                In 1981, Kitty wrote In Your Hands: A Citizens Guide to the Arms Race. It was illustrated and published by a small peace group.This was at the height of the nuclear arms race, and purchase orders came from around the world. "I wrote it thinking of a high school audience," Kitty explains. "As a result, it was easy to understand. When Amelia worried about nuclear weapons, I told her I would take care of it! And I do like to think my little book had some influence."
                    "Wrapping our heads around nuclear holocaust enabled us to grasp the meaning of environmental destruction," she explains. So she began writing on the environment for local and then national publications. She attended the first Earth Day celebration in Times Square, closed to cars for the occasion.
                      In 1992 Kitty decided to move back to Cambridge. Amelia had finished college and was living in New York. Duncan was in Italy with his Italian girlfriend. It was time, she says, to take wing.
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                                                          On Her Own
            Kitty's seventh life began the April day she and her dog Jeff arrived at her new home in Cambridge. It was the first time in her life she had been without parents or husband and kids. "It was breathtaking to be on my own," she recalls, "and for the most part a joy." She continued her environmental freelancing, compiling Harvard's first guide to environmental studies, and publishing a feature article on the new Environmental Studies major in Harvard Magazine.  She got a job as writer and editor in a small nonprofit in Boston. She joined a health club and the Unitarian church, "taking care of body and soul," she laughs. She became very active in a Cambridge group working for a more green approach by the city. 
             "I began to realize," says Kitty, "that no matter how much we told people about what they were doing to the Earth, they didn't really grasp the consequences. So I thought, why don't I show them." That was why she began What Love Can't Do, even though she was still working full time and only had weekends to write. In 2003 she retired. "I was born to retire," laughs Kitty. "It's bliss." The novel was published in 2006 by Plain View Press, which started out as a feminist press thirty years ago, and has branched out to include other political issues as well. Plain View Press also published the sequels, Human Scale and The Hampshire Project, due out on April 22, honoring Earth Day.
                And that's her life so far. Watch this space for more...
 
Be sure to visit Kitty's blog, planetprospect.blogspot.com 
Contact: kbsep22ATverizon.net
 
 

                                                                                How These Novels Happened 

Birthing a book is intense.

When I started my first novel What Love Can’t Do in 2002, I was still working full time. Earlier I’d become disillusioned with environmental reporting: no matter how much we told people what they were doing to the Earth, they kept on doing it. So I decided to show them. At first I thought it was a short story, and published it as such in Facets, an online magazine. Then the heroine’s daughter had her own tale to tell, and a second story was born, also published in Facets.

As the plot kept growing, I realized I had a novel. It helped tremendously that I had a dynamic writers group, which nurtures me to this day.  I found Plain View Press through Poets and Writers magazine. A 30 year-old issue-based independent publishing house, PVP was actually looking for an environmental novel. At that time there weren’t any that dealt with the human consequences of ecological breakdown. PVP receives approximately ten manuscripts a week, but chooses to publish only about twelve a year. www.plainviewpress.net.

While What Love Can’t Do was in the throes of publication, I started the sequel, Human Scale.  The main characters are new, but some of the original ones return in minor roles. It’s now 2062, some twenty years later. Original Boston, inundated by tidal waves and rising sea levels, has long been abandoned. Agricultural cycles are off kilter; regional enclaves compete for scarce resources; an autocratic theocracy lulls and paralyzes citizens. Vita dares confront her husband to rescue her daughter from the priestly rituals. Meanwhile drawn to a charismatic spy, Vita must make dangerous decisions. in The Hampshire Project, 17 year old Terra sets out to find her father whoever he may be, and meets many challenges on the way. The trilogy is named Resilience to highlight the emphasis on courage and survival. 

All three novels are about the power of love. And about the power of fear and denial, and the dramatic complexities between men and women. The chaotic environment is an ever present threat, as are the ominous forces taking the place of a stable society. But my focus is always on people. The force of my motivation in writing these novels has always been truly trying to imagine what people will face.

I would say my work is not a prediction, but a warning.

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
               
 
 
 
 
 
            
 
           

 

                                                                     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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