David J. Backes is author of A Wilderness Within, the national award-winning biography of famed naturalist / author /environmental leader Sigurd F. Olson. He has produced three other titles in the Olson series and two earlier books. His current project is his first novel, Listening Point. David's lifelong connection to nature began when he was just two years old and heard the haunting cry of gulls over the Gulf of Mexico. Family trips to national parks and other wild places in the U.S. and Canada, and frequent visits to his county park on the shore of Lake Michigan filled him with awe and wonder.
In 1963 his family discovered Ely, Minnesota, and the canoe country at its doorstep. That experience shaped his life. Over many years and visits, and one year working as a reporter for the Ely Echo newspaper, David came to discover not only a wilderness that stirred his soul, but a direction in life. That direction eventually led to Sigurd Olson, who personally encouraged David at a time when he most needed it. He went back to school and earned a doctoral degree in environmental communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, then spent a career as a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He loved teaching, but is a writer at heart, so these days you will find him most often in the little writing room at his home in southeast Wisconsin or soaking up inspiration along the shore of Lake Michigan.