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 coming back to me. By chance, a friend asked if I’d be interested in joining a writer’s group.”
She was able to get started with this path because of the support she received from a group of friends.
Eriksson was a Saskatchewan native who lived in Shaunavon until his death.
“My dad was a Lutheran minister who liked all kinds of challenges,” she chuckled.
The family moved to Riverton in Iceland, Manitoba, and then to Edmonton where Eriksson graduated high school.
Her nomadic lifestyle was far from over. “From there as a young adult I did a lot of travelling,” Eriksson said.
Later, she spent a year at Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, and a few years in the Yukon. She was based in Whitehorse. “I worked for the territorial government, running their swimming pool program,” Eriksson noted.
She was eventually lured to B.C. and lived in Victoria and Galiano Island before moving permanently to Thetis Island 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 expertise and experience in these areas include five years working with the SeaChange Marine Conservation Society to restore eelgrass with volunteers from the Gulf Islands. Eriksson volunteers with Thetis Island Nature Conservancy and Cowichan Land Trust.
“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.
Dive-In is the first. 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 from all kinds of scientific fields. The preparations for printing included having a 12-year old read the draft and editing the text.
“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 were very positive, including a strong endorsement by Elizabeth May, a former leader of Green Party of Canada, in Saanich-Gulf Islands.
“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.”
Early reviews have called it frightening and hopeful, with hope for action to stop further damage from the climate crisis.
The book features many photographs and sidebars. There are also about a dozen submissions of writing, 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 can be purchased through Amazon and Orca, as well as at Volume One Bookstore in Duncan.
Eriksson is currently in the early draft stage for what will be her sixth adult novel.