This is more response to Abigail (beta reader #1). She wants to know, "all about this story and how you (I) came up with the idea," of Chasing Mercury. The short version of the answer is that I have spent a lot of time (6hrs per week on average for 10 years) less than a foot above the waterline at the mouth of the San Francisco Bay near Sausalito--rowing.
The annual Open water Rowing Center Regatta is tomorrow morning-- on that same water. I didn't row the race last year for the first time in ten--big mistake. Why do I do it? Because any day on the water is better than any other. Having something to do near the water, as if being able to drink it weren't enough, pushes us to protect its quality. Hence Chasing Mercury was born as an upmarket fiction with eco-romantic underpinnings--to reach an audience who might not read non-fiction and make them want to protect the environment, and seek environmental justice.
Last night I was at Monica's birthday party, a friend and colleague with whom I worked at the hospital. One of her guest was Ariel Rubissow Okamoto, the author of the nonfiction book -- The Natural History of the San Francisco Bay. Among other things--we chatted about phenomena related to the rising mercury levels in the SF Bay--long after industrial pollution has been stopped. The same problem is being seen in other places particularly in the English Wabagoon Water System were Canadian Minamata disease was first identified (see http://freegrassy.net). Canadian Minamata disease is an important part of the novel Chasing Mercury. Ariel's passion was infectious even for the likes of me! --Have a look at her book-- http://www.barnesandnoble.com/p/natural-history-of-san-francisco-bay-ariel-rubissow-okamoto/1100479407/2672822039049?st=PLA&sid=BNB_DRS_Marketplace+Shopping+Books_00000000&2sid=Google_&sourceId=PLGoP2988&k_clickid=3x2988