It’s always been in the mindset of Thetis Island resident Ann Eriksson to write books one day, but her dream only came to fruition in the last two decades.
Since the dawn of the 2000s, it’s mission accomplished for Eriksson, now 65, with five adult fiction novels and three non-fiction books for teenage and young adult readers in circulation, including a new one being released this week that’s especially pertinent – Urgent Message From A Hot Planet: Navigating the Climate Crisis.
“I was just a bookworm when I was a kid,” said Eriksson. “I always dreamed about writing fiction.
“In my 40s, it grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go. I’d have this story in my head. It just kept hounding me. By chance, a friend asked if I’d be interested in joining a writer’s group.”
The support from a casual group of friends in Victoria got her started on that path.
Eriksson was born in Shaunavon, Saskatchewan and lived in three other communities around the province until the age of 10.
“My dad was a Lutheran minister who liked all kinds of challenges,” she chuckled.
The family relocated to the Icelandic town of Riverton, Manitoba and then on to Edmonton where Eriksson graduated from high school.
Her nomadic ways were from far from finished at that point. “From there as a young adult I did a lot of travelling,” Eriksson said.
She later spent a year at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia and a couple of years working in the Yukon, based in Whitehorse. “I worked for the territorial government, running their swimming pool program,” Eriksson noted.
Eventually, she got lured to B.C., living in Victoria and on Galiano Island before settling on Thetis Island temporarily in 2008 and then permanently in 2010.
Along the way, Eriksson obtained a biology degree at UVic, with a minor in environmental studies that’s been reflected in some of the books she’s written.
Her experiences and expertise in those areas have included five years with the SeaChange Marine Conservation Society in eelgrass restoration with volunteer community groups around the Gulf Islands. Eriksson also volunteers with the Cowichan Land Trust and Thetis Island Nature Conservancy.
“The conservation work is very compatible with my writings on climate,” she added.
Eriksson’s non-fiction ecological literacy books have come under the umbrella of Orca Book Publishers. “It’s a lot of work, non-fiction, different than writing fiction where you have this creative freedom,” she explained.
The first, Dive-In! Exploring Our Connection With The Ocean, came out in 2018 as part of Orcas’ Footprints series. Bird’s-Eye View, Keeping Wild Birds in Flight, was next in 2020 in the Wild series and now Urgent Message From A Hot Planet in the Issues series.
Urgent Message runs 205 pages. Eriksson interviewed many people in all sorts of scientific areas and the preparations for print included having a 12-year-old read the draft in addition to the normal editing process.
“It’s a much longer book, much more in-depth,” explained Eriksson. “It took a few years of prep work to get it to that point and, of course, COVID slowed things down a little bit.”
She’s pleased to have her book included in the series that takes a hard line on important material for young people.
“It’s a really impressive series,” said Eriksson. “Orca Issues doesn’t shy away from tough topics.”
Advance copy reviews have been very favourable, including a strong endorsement from Saanich-Gulf Islands MP Elizabeth May, a former leader of the Green Party of Canada.
“I encourage any interested youth – and their parents – to read this book,” writes May. “It is an amazing achievement – comprehensive and informative, stretching from climate science to the intersecting issues of inequality and racism. Ultimately, it is a toolbox for hope.”
Other early reviews have called it a book with content that is both frightening, but hopeful about action on the climate crisis preventing further damage.
The book is accentuated with plenty of photographs and sidebars, with the unique addition of about a dozen writing submissions, art and poetry from youth.
“They added a nice element to the book,” said Eriksson. “I also included what I call ‘Burning Questions’ which examine questions many youth are asking themselves in light of the future uncertainty the climate crisis brings.”
The book is available through the usual on-line outlets such as Orca and Amazon and also at Volume One Bookstore in Duncan and other bookstores.
Eriksson is now in the early draft stage of what will become her sixth adult novel.