Writers and Chameleons


Parson’s Chameleon, Andasibe, Madagascar

Why is a raven like a writing desk? Whoops! Wrong riddle. What I meant to write was, “Why is a writer like a chameleon? I had planned to explain that, like chameleons, writers blend into the backgrounds of their stories, hiding by making the writing seem effortless even when it isn’t, and camouflaging themselves for protection from biographically curious readers. This seemed like a pretty good metaphor until I picked up James Martin’s fascinating and very readable book, Masters of Disguise: A Natural History of Chameleons. Less than 50 pages into the book, I learned that, contrary to widespread belief, chameleons don’t change color for the sake of camouflage. Instead, their colors reflect changes in mood: anger, fear, aggression, and even amorous intent. Who knew? And why do I care? Because by the time you read this, I will be photographing those little critters in Madagascar—home of about half of the world’s 150 species of chameleons, as well as lemurs, tomato frogs, snakes, moths and bugs of all sorts.

So, dear readers, brace yourselves—you’re going to hear lots about Madagascar and its wild creatures over the next month or so. Now if I can only find an angle to connect writing to this adventure…..



About Alexis

Alexis Rankin Popik, author of Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate, is an award-winning short story writer whose work has appeared in The Berkshire Review and Potpourri Magazine. She has penned numerous articles about local history that have been published in Connecticut Explored and the University of Connecticut School of Law and The Hartford Seminary publications. A former union organizer, Popik traveled the country educating shipyard workers about health and safety and founded a labor-management health plan before turning to writing fiction full-time. She lives with her husband in New England.
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