How did I dream up The Last Shade Tree, a strange book by any definition? When I was fifteen, a frightening polar-route flight home from Europe to San Francisco forced an emergency landing at the air force base in Frobisher Bay, Canada (now Iqaluit), at the Arctic Circle. It was mid-winter. Shivering in the sub-zero air, I was amazed by the intensity of the Northern Lights—and decided to write about it one day. Many years later, pieces of that experience have inspired several chapters. But what truly shaped the book and its peculiar story are my fears for our future. I have watched the world lurch from bad to worse to bad and back again—more times than I can count. Letting my characters speak for me, I voice my dismay that human beings seem incapable of learning from past atrocities. But I didn’t want to preach, so I imagined a story that would be fun, thought provoking, terrifying, and a great adventure all at the same time. I hope I’ve succeeded, and that The Last Shade Tree will sweep readers off their feet as they share in my characters’ extraordinary journey across the world and through time, always battling the intensity of their heightened emotions.