Wednesday, July 07, 2021

Have dose, will travel

 Liberated! Well, at least the door has been unlocked, so that I can twist the handle, ease it open, and step cautiously outside. Rick's post of Monday talked about planning his long delayed trip to visit family in New York City and to research his current book. I am starting the same process. I am currently writing the latest Amanda Doucette book, the title of which I can't name because even my publisher hasn't been told yet. Amanda has been travelling across Canada in this series, with each book set in a different, iconic location. She started in the far east in Newfoundland, and this latest one is set in the Pacific Rim area of Vancouver Island, in the farthest reaches of western Canada. It's a wild land of rugged mountains, dense forests, giant trees, long beaches, treacherous rocks, and some of the best  surfing in the world (So they say. As a Central Canadian, I know the land of sparkling lakes, hardwood forests, and rocky granite shores. I don't know the surfing world). 

Fire in the Stars, set in Newfoundland

I've been to Vancouver island from time to time to visit Victoria, the provincial capital, and to travel up the more protected inside coast. I have never seen the wilder west coast, mostly the domain of adventure travellers, artists, and First Nations. Pictures, books, and travel blogs can't begin to give me the feel I need, and because there is a historical backstory from 1970, there is also research I have to do in local historical societies and archives. I've found that most of the really meaty information about daily life is in small local publications, which are rarely digitalized as far back as the 70s. So in addition to visiting the Royal BC Museum in Victoria, which houses the provincial archives, I want to poke around in Tofino and Ucluelet, the twin towns that constitute the main settlement in the Pacific Rim area. I also hope to hunt down some long-time locals who remember the wild commune life on the beaches in the late 60s and early 70s.

I usually like to do my research when I'm in the early stages of the first draft, because I get some of my best inspiration from the material I gather on site. This year, however, the pandemic happened. I had first booked a trip for May, figuring that was as late as I could push it without interfering with my winter deadline to submit the book. But in May, Canada was still in the grips of the third wave, most activities and venues were locked down, and travel was restricted to essential only. First Nations territories and activities were closed to the public. I could not even book accommodation in BC, let alone plan kayaking, hiking, and sightseeing trips.

But now vaccine rates are rising across Canada, and case numbers are dropping. I have had both doses of Moderna and am thoroughly modernized! Events and activities are opening up cautiously, and I decided that I could safely book a trip in September, when vaccine rates should be even better. This virus has tricked us before, but this time I am really hoping we have it beaten down enough that some semblance of normal can return. If it has a surprise for us in the fall, foiling my travel plans, I will be in trouble. I will have to dig around the internet, pump my BC friends for information, and rely on secondary sources, all of which will limit the effectiveness of the book. 

So fingers crossed that this will all work out, and that I can at least see the rugged mountains and forests, even if I can't get to the remote hot springs I have in mind.


Anna said...

If Emily Carr is at all relevant to your book, don't miss any allusions to her or to her painting.

Barbara Fradkin said...

Absolutely, Anna! Good to remind me.