Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Q&A with D.J. Green



D.J. Green is the author of the new novel No More Empty Spaces. Also a geologist, sailor, and bookseller, she lives in New Mexico.


Q: What inspired you to write No More Empty Spaces, and how did you create your character Will Ross?


A: I was inspired to write No More Empty Spaces to find the essence of the truth, a truer truth if you will, of my late husband. So, Will Ross is loosely based on him.


But as I wrote into the story two things happened—Will became more himself and less the person he was based on, and I found so much more to explore, like families, which are always a rich vein to mine, and how we define progress, and is progress always as positive as we’d like to think.


And for me, as an environmental and engineering geologist who worked in the field for more than 30 years, the Earth and geologic processes have always been fascinating. Through my writing in general, and particularly the writing of this book, I wanted to translate the wonder I feel about that for non-scientist readers.


Q: How did you research the novel, and did you learn anything that especially surprised you?


A: I have traveled extensively in Turkey, and learned a lot about Turkey’s geology on those trips, so that was research both before and during the writing process.


As I began to write, I read more about the dams built on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers in Central and Eastern Anatolia, and I spent many hours studying Turkey’s geologic map. I loved, pardon the pun, digging into the geology.


But I’d say the thing I was most surprised by and that I had to work hardest on, was weaving the science into the fabric of the story in a way that felt organic, and engaging, not like a textbook.


That is one reason I began writing creatively, to communicate how amazing geology is to readers within story, but I didn’t know how challenging that would be. I hope I rose to that challenge.

Q: The writer Kirstin Valdez Quade said of the book, “No More Empty Spaces is a generous and large-hearted portrayal of a family in precarity and a nuanced exploration of the tradeoffs we make to protect the people we love against forces natural and man-made.” What do you think of that description?


A: In three words, I love it. And, from that description, I feel like she understood what I was trying to do in No More Empty Spaces, which, in turn, makes me feel like I did my job as a writer.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the story?


A: Many of the characters in No More Empty Spaces, and many of us in life, are seeking home—in ourselves, in our families, and in the landscape. I think that’s a universal theme, and I hope it will resonate with readers.


Also, I hope they will see the Earth and its processes, just a bit differently after reading the book than they did before they turned the first page.


I’d love for readers to have a better sense of what applied scientists do, particularly engineering geologists, and why understanding the foundations we build on is so important. And they can take that metaphorically, as well as literally.


On a lighter note, I hope readers will enjoy the journey to a beautiful and fascinating part of the world, and engage with some of the Ross family’s adventures, while they hike and fly and camp and sail along.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m working on my second novel. Its working title is Chances, which is the name of a sailboat. It’s the story of a woman taking the helm of her life as she learns to command the helm of her sailboat, as told by the fair little ship’s First Mate, who also happens to be an intrepid boat dog.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I would love for readers to let me know what they think and feel about No More Empty Spaces or other pieces, which they can find on my website,


After all, we write to explore our human experiences, so hearing how our words touch others is a real gift. You can leave a review, contact me through my website, or reach out on social media. It would also be great to meet readers while I’m on tour, I’ll be in the following cities:


Albuquerque, NM—Saturday, April 13, 2024, 6 PM, Book Launch at Bookworks, 4022 Rio Grande Blvd NW


Denver CO—Monday, April 22, 2024 for Earth Day, 6 PM, Tattered Cover, 2526 East Colfax Ave.


Boise, ID—Saturday, April 27, 2024, 3 PM, Coffee Book Club (Rediscovered Books and the City of Boise) at the Esther Simplot Performing Arts Academy, 516 South 9th Street


Portland, OR—Tuesday, May 14, 2024, 6 PM, In conversation with Miriam Gershow, Broadway Books, 1714 NE Broadway


Asheville, NC—Tuesday, May 21, 2024, 6 PM, Hybrid Event-In Person and Live Streaming (can be attended in person or virtually), In conversation with Katey Schultz, Malaprops, 55 Haywood Street


Orinda, CA—June 2024, Date/Time coming soon, In conversation with Brooke Warner, Orinda Books, 276 Village Square


--Interview with Deborah Kalb


  1. Thank you for this thoughtful interview, Deborah! Just a quick note that I'll also be at Scuppernong Books in Greensboro, NC on Sunday, May 19, 2024 at 2 PM. Hope to see your readers in person or online!