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Author as green as she can get

As I clicked through the responses to my column on green-themed books, this one from Fran Stewart really caught my attention.

"I enjoyed your article on going green at the library, but how I wish you'd found my murder mystery - 'Green as a Garden Hose' - on your search through the Gwinnett Library system."

I learned from Stewart's Web site that she and her nine cats live right here in Gwinnett County on the back side of Hog Mountain, and her publisher, Doggie in the Window Publications, is based in Duluth. She also claims the 2004 Georgia Author of the Year Award for a previous book in her series of color-based mysteries.

How in the world did I miss this, you might wonder? Well, it was like this:

I logged on to the library Web site and typed "green" into the catalog browser. I planned to spend a few minutes weeding out titles with environmental themes and reserving any "green" books that might provide a cerebral escape from the physical frustration of trying to be green during a drought.

My green search brought up 768 titles. No way was I going through the whole list. I just clicked until I'd found about 40 books to check out, figuring I'd narrow them down to a dozen at the most.

After Stewart's e-mail, I found her book at the library. As I read it, I was amazed and amused at all the little green clues she sneaked into the plot. But what amazed me most is the greenness of the book itself - and I don't mean the color of the cover.

Stewart's "green" books are printed on a blend of recycled paper and kenaf, a 4,000-year-old plant that originated in Africa. Kenaf, a member of the hibiscus family, offers a way to make paper without cutting trees. Its one-inch-diameter stalks grow as high as 20 feet in five months, making it much easier to harvest and replenish than trees that can take up to 40 years to mature.

On top of all this, I discovered that Georgia is one of only four states that manufacture kenaf products and University of Georgia research scientists are on the cutting edge of finding ways to increase its availability.

Stewart's next book - "Indigo as an Iris" - will be out in October. But don't let the title fool you. This colorful mystery is twined around the green funeral industry.

And for the record, I did go back to the library site and clicked through all 768 green titles. I discovered "Green as a Garden Hose" listed at number 765. Hmmm, with a topic like this maybe I should have known to start at the "grass roots" level.

Susan Larson is a Lilburn resident. E-mail her at susanlarson4@yahoo.com.