Bill Arnott’s Showcase Interview: Mountain Climber and Naturalist Dr. D. L. Stephen

Hi Showcasers, or maybe I should say yodelayheehoo, as today we head for the hills! In fact the Canadian Rockies, with mountain climber and naturalist Dr. D. L. (Donna) Stephen. My introduction to Donna was when I read Edward Feuz Jr.: A Story of Enchantment, her beautiful biographical travel memoir, an account of the Rockies and years of climbing with one of the country’s preeminent alpinists.

Hi Donna, and welcome to the Showcase, with sincere congratulations on the success of your wonderful book. Please introduce yourself to our Showcase family with your bio.

(D. L.) Thanks Bill. I was born in Calgary to two Canadian Pacific Hotel employees who fell in love with mountains at first sight. However, my snowsuit was soon traded for shorts, short sleeves, and sandals because when I was still a toddler my parents moved to Hollywood. To me Hollywood Blvd was just the street we walked down to get to the bookstore. In retrospect, I grew up normalising diverse environments, cultures, ideas and activities. I also grew up taking annual road trips back to the Canadian Rockies where I learned the rudiments of hiking and climbing from a famous Swiss Mountain Guide (Edward Feuz Jr). In a way, I lived in at least a couple of different worlds. My brain was always focused on adventure, so school was torture. Ironically, I subsequently earned three degrees and now work as a clinical psychologist in Banff (on Treaty Seven territory) and until recently, on the Stoney Nakoda reserve.

Pre-order Bill’s new book today!

(Bill) A superb backstory! Tell us what you believe you’re best known for.

(D. L.) I have no idea what I’m best known for. It would probably depend upon who you asked. Maybe for being a dilettante or more kindly, a person with diverse interests and passions.

(Bill) And what would you say brought you here?

(D. L.) You ask tough questions. A one-word answer would be “mountains.”

(Bill) That’s a good answer. (And I never said this was going to be easy, so future Showcasers, beware!) But who do you feel’s been a role model or mentor to you?

(D. L.) I have many mentors. One was the Swiss guide (Edward) because he was a very dynamic and romantic personality, who loved to share his passion for mountains; a second was also a family friend, Uan Rasey, who played solo trumpet for MGM and had the most positive attitude imaginable. Even though he was dependent upon crutches his whole adult life, he knew absolutely everything about track and field—and I loved to run. Then much later there was a brilliant psychologist by the name of Ed Shneidman. I admired his brain, and he was a good writer. I could go on …

(Bill) What’s your advice to others?

(D.L.) I don’t like giving advice. Hmm, be yourself, but be sure to spend some time finding out what that is.

(Bill) I like that a lot. And what are you currently working on?

(D. L.) I’m currently working on keeping my head above water swimming in a relentless sea of challenges associated with publicizing my first book, but am confident a new writing project will eventually emerge.

(Bill) I’m certain of it! Now, for our “Desert Island” listings. What are your favourite book, album, movie, and food dish?

(D. L.) I’m going to take this one in categories. So, for books: Moby Dick, Wind in the Willows, and Plato at the Googleplex by Rebecca Goldstein. For music: I need all of Mozart. Movie: my favourite comedy is Bringing up Baby, with Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant. There probably is a need for laughter on a desert island! And food: I like to eat and never met a carbohydrate I didn’t like.

(Bill) Ah, yes, three cheers for carbs! And for our trademark Quirky Question. Skiing: downhill, cross-country, or water, and why?

(D. L.) Skiing on snow definitely, because I’m a long way away from the ocean. I like downhill skiing for the excitement, and cross-country skiing because my focus is drawn more inward and I can fantasize I’m an Olympic athlete. If I lived near the ocean, I would probably boogie board because I don’t have the patience to learn how to surf. Water skiing is out of the question because I’m not fond of motorized boats.

(Bill) Excellent reasons. Like the old joke, “There’s nothing quite like the serenity of being on the water, especially with a hundred horsepower at full throttle!

Thank you Donna, for being another great Showcase participant. Wishing you continued success with Edward Feuz Jr: A Story of Enchantment and looking forward to your future endeavours! Follow Donna on Twitter @DrDLStephen1, and find her award-winning book at booksellers everywhere.

See also  The Future is Wow: an Interview with Bob McDonald