Barb Lachenbruch straddles life between town and her off-grid cabin in the woods, and writes in both places. Her writing includes fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry.
Barb grew up in a quiet corner of Los Altos Hills, California, a town on the border between road-less chaparral and Silicon Valley. She cut apricots in the orchards as her first paying job. California was in her veins, and she did her PhD at Stanford on poison oak, after earning biology degrees from Swarthmore (BA) and the University of Alaska Fairbanks (MS). Afterward, she had a post-doc at UC Berkeley in a marine biomechanics lab. Before moving to Oregon, her path also meandered through Texas, New Hampshire, and an indigenous village in Guatemala for the Peace Corps.
She moved to Corvallis for a faculty position at Oregon State University. There, she raised two children and was an Assistant, Associate, and Full Professor in Wood Science & Engineering and Forest Ecosystems & Society. Her research focused on wood quality and the relationships in plants of their structure and function, especially related to mechanical support and water transport. Her teaching included wood anatomy, tree physiology, forest biology, issues in renewable resources, and forests and civilization. She and her family spent sabbatical years in France (1998-99) and Chile (2005-06). She retired to spend more time on writing and other creative pursuits. With the pandemic, however, she decided to help out by getting a Substitute Teaching License to teach K through 12 (part-time) in the public schools.
“Voices Carry” in an anthology of nested stories (forthcoming from Not a Pipe Press)
“Every Day is a Data Day” in CALYX: A Journal of Art and Literature and by Women (forthcoming essay)
“Cloud-[COVID]-9[teen]” an Op/Ed, Pamplin News
“The Physics of Connection and Solitude” in High Country News
Current writing projects:
Barb is seeking representation for her first novel, NETTLE SOUP, which is contemporary fiction. The novel follows Dawn Perkins, a fourth-generation owner of a homestead in the Oregon Coast Range, who has transformed her property into a commune. Her desire is to live light on the earth with like-minded people. But no one lives up to her rigid standards, and the commune is on the road to failure. Unless Dawn deals with the hidden trauma that caused her to become so controlling, she will lose everything. Shown through the rotating narratives of four adults and two teenagers, the novel explores loneliness and the barriers that keep people from connecting with others.
She is also working on a novel set in academia, and is working on numerous pieces of short fiction and memoir.
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Instagram: @BotanyBarb, @BarbLachenbruch