Geoffrey Cook started telling Veronica and the Volcano stories to pass the time with his daughter Madeline on the twenty-five-minute drive to school every morning. She enjoyed his stories, and so he wrote them down. Geoffrey is a serial entrepreneur. He is the CEO and co-founder of The Meet Group (NASDAQ: MEET) and previously founded EssayEdge and ResumeEdge from a Harvard dorm. He lives in Princeton, NJ, with his wife, two daughters, and son. You can contact him here.


Of course, I must start by thanking the illustrator Gabrielle Shamsey. Her illustrations are works of art. I will forever be grateful for the life she breathed into Veronica and her world. Thank you Gabrielle!

I’d like to thank my daughter Madeline. Maddy wears a strand of pearls every day, even to bed, because her middle name is Pearl. She was born on Pearl Harbor Day. In her bedroom, amidst the Harry Potter hangings, you will find my poem on one wall and a photograph of a lava river pouring into the sea on another. She is kind to her sister and her friends. She is an artist and a lover of volcanoes. She wrote a poem to me and my wife for Valentine’s day: “You love me more than love. But I love you more than that.” I wrote this story to be read by her.

I’d like to thank my daughter Elyse. No one has more natural wonder. At age six, she will tell you that she plans to be a scientist and a rock star, and I believe her. No one asks deeper questions or more of them. She always has a song in her head, the song of the universe, vibrating on its varied strings, unheard except by her. Her hair is long-flowing and blonde. She has a love for curious monkeys, a passion for hot chocolate, and a taste for maple syrup that can distinguish Fancy from Grade A Medium. I hope a part of her stays six years old forever.

I’d like to thank my wife, Kerri. She imagined a little girl who lived on a volcano. She named her Veronica after her mother’s middle name. She began telling Maddy bedtime stories in the first grade. Veronica’s adventures were Maddy’s adventures: a lost tooth, a win at softball, a skinned knee, a vacation to Florida. Maddy could not get enough Veronica. She would make me tell her a new story every day on the twenty-five-minute ride to school. Over time, the stories got more involved: fairies, mermaids, Diamond Island. Eventually I started to write some of them down.

I’d like to thank Captain John, Makenna, and Steve. They are our summertime neighbors on Lake George. A pillar of the community, Captain John does more than just captain the Minne Ha Ha, he fights fires and scuba dives. The patriarch, he is a keeper of stories and legends. Makenna, his granddaughter, is Maddy’s friend. She is resourceful, full of awe, and always ready to adventure. Officer Steve, her father, built a ramp between the houses, creating one giant lakefront playground.

I’d like to thank the significant places that helped inspire the story, especially Lake George, where you can find the iconic Minne Ha Ha steaming past Diamond Island. Crater Lake, Oregon, was another inspiration and may just be the most beautiful place in the United States. We went in July and arrived in the middle of a snowstorm. There you will find cliffs green with lichen and water bluer than your imagination. I’d also like to thank Muir Wood for inspiring the Cloud Forest. If you find yourself in San Francisco, you must take the short drive to this sacred place. There you will find the tallest living creatures growing in family circles, with roots shallow and intertwined, each tree holding up the whole forest.

I must also thank the places I haven’t been. The idea for Magma Pass came in part from El Camino de la Muerte (“The Road of Death”) in Bolivia, connecting La Paz to Coroico. While I’m in no hurry to visit that one, I would like to visit the limestone pools of Pamukkale in Turkey, the inspiration for the limestone stairs. Another worthy journey is the Rio Celeste in Costa Rica, the inspiration for Chowilawu. The immense caves of Hang Son Doong in Vietnam inspired the setting of Captain John’s grave.

I must thank the authors I read along the way, including Alfred Russel Wallace for The Malay Archipelago. His account helped me imagine the wildness of a volcanic region, still inhabited by natives. I must also thank the Blair brothers for Ring of Fire, both the book and the documentary. I owe them the term People of Wood, their reference to the tribe of cannibals who likely killed Michael Rockefeller in New Guinea. I also based my pirates on the Dragon Prau on the Bugis, the seafaring Southeast Asian tribe and the source of the term boogeyman.

I must also thank Simon Winchester for Krakatoa and for opening my eyes to the political, man-made fallout of volcanic eruptions, which in part inspired the man in white. In my research, I encountered the most stunning eyewitness accounts of volcanic mayhem in The Last Days of St. Pierre by Ernest Zebrowski, Jr. Those people did what Veronica did—they lived next to an active volcano as if it were commonplace. They heard it rumble nearly every day, and as a result, 30,000 of them died.

I’d also like to thank my editors Scott McCormick and Amy Betz for their valuable feedback and Shanna Compton for all her tremendous work in laying out the book and the covers. Lastly, I’d like to thank the early readers for their time and feedback, like Elena, Clara, Sophia, my mother, and my sister. I’d especially like to thank Elena for the idea of the glossary. Good idea, Elena!

That’s all for now … until Part II.