Jacqueline Swann, who operates Leda Organic Farm with her husband Gary, considers herself an accidental author. Swann is releasing her first full-length novel after two previously-released children’s books. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Hurricane Katrina inspires Island author’s new novel

Jacqueline Swann brings message of climate change to life with story of fictional journalist

Port Alberni farmer and writer Jacqueline Swann considers herself an accidental author. She has written two children’s books, mostly for her grandchildren. On May 26 she will launch her first full-length novel, A Message From Katrina.

Her latest book tells the story of a young Louisiana journalist who experiences Hurricane Katrina and its devastating aftermath.

Swann uses her character, rookie TV reporter Coli Duncan, to advance her own concern about climate change. “For me, a journalist was a good way to give people that information and still have a story,” she said.

Follow Coli Duncan’s story as she covers a weather conference and her dawning realization that climate change may be the most important issue facingg humanity. Learn about her difficulties in dealing with the storm and how it affects her news coverage, her career and her family. Watch her try and fit in romance, then suffer with her through personal crisis.

This story has been swirling around Swann’s imagination for 13 years, begging to be released onto pages. “When Hurricane Katrina crashed into New Orleans on Aug. 29, 2005, I saw a tipping point event occurring,” she said. “An acceptance of the reality of global warming (now referred to as climate change) was pushed into the minds of many North Americans.

“The concept of climate change hit home emotionally for me,” she said during a rainy interview at her family’s organic farm on the outskirts of Port Alberni. “At that point I emotionally knew the human race was in deep, deep trouble with climate change.”

As farmers, Swann and her husband Gary live their lives and farm their property based on weather patterns. While she acknowledges that climate is cyclical in nature, it’s the disturbance of those cycles that prove changes are happening.

“Farming is a very difficult thing to get right…if you don’t get the weather you’re expecting. If you don’t get the weather, you don’t get the crops.

“Agriculture is the underpinning of our society,” she said. “If we can’t supply good quality food for people…then our society will crumble.”

Images from Katrina that made an impact on Swann, whether from news coverage or one of the collections she read as research, have found their way into her story. When her main characters hire a boat for a day to shoot footage of the flood’s devastation, they encounter “oily patches and nasty smelling eddies” in the water as well as debris and bodies.

Swann has captured the fury and fear of the hurricane as it hits New Orleans, creating a page-turner of a story.

She felt a fictional novel based on factual events was the best way to illustrate her feelings. “My feeling from talking to other people is people just don’t want to think about (climate change),” she explained.

People can enjoy the story through the lives of the characters she deftly created, while also learning why the hurricane destroyed so much of New Orleans, and how the city’s levées were breached.

Copies of Swann’s book will be available at the Leda Farm booth at the Cruise Ship Festival on Saturday, May 25 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Her official book launch takes place on Sunday, May 26, 2 p.m. at Leda Farm (4361 Batty Rd., on the way to McLean Mill if you follow the yellow mill signs). Please RSVP to 250-723-7692. The book costs $19.98.

Swann will be doing a reading from her book and will be available to answer questions.

A Message From Katrina is also available to order online at amazon.ca and an e-book will be available shortly for Kindle.

 

Jacqueline Swann, who operates Leda Organic Farm with her husband Gary, considers herself an accidental author. Swann is releasing her first full-length novel after two previously-released children’s books. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

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