With wildfire season in full swing, Lac La Hache author Terri Kovalcik’s new book couldn’t have come out at a more appropriate time.
Junior Hunters at Large Series: Up In Flames follows Kovalcik’s characters Charlie and Joey as they evacuate their hometown due to the Rhino Hill fire. The book follows how the fire not only disrupts their lives but also their plans for hunting white-tailed deer.
While fictional, Kovalcik said she used the 2017 wildfires as inspiration for her latest novel’s story.
“I used the Elephant Hill Fire for inspiration in my story because I watched videos about the Elephant Hill fire to make it as realistic as possible,” she explained. “I use realism in my books because I think it’s important. I don’t like making things up and I want children to know the truth of life.”
In addition to exploring how Joey and Charlie prepare for leaving and later evacuate their homes, Kovalcik chose to have them help fight the fire with Joey’s dad. She said the book is designed for readers aged 10 and up, so she likes to focus on the adventure and educating children, rather than on relationships.
“My books are focused on the adventure. They’re designed to take you there, and when you’re done you grow from it, learn from it and have new skills from it.”
Kovalcik said that releasing the book during the wildfire season just happened to be a fluke. When not working at FreshCo 100 Mile House, she has spent the last several years writing the Junior Hunters at Large series.
When she first plotted the series out in 2005, Kovalcik said she planned for 20 volumes covering a wide range of topics related to hunting and fishing. Taking inspiration from Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing, she laid out several possible plot points, including a wildfire.
“Back in 2005 I thought I needed to come up with a conflict. What would be a good conflict for them? I thought wildfires were a conflict, so let’s use that,” she said. “Then it just so happened we lived through a wildfire, and it has made (the story) more effective for me to have lived through it.”
Up In Flames is the ninth volume of the Junior Hunters at Large Series and is available on Amazon for Kindle and in paperback. Kovalcik encourages anyone with children to consider buying them the book to help educate them about the impact of wildfires.
“I want kids to be prepared, (wildfires) are scary. (In 2017) I might have only been on evacuation alert but the tension and the fear of having to leave your home is scary,” Kovalcik said. “There are people who got evacuated or lost their homes and all of those things we need to be made aware of. If the children are aware they won’t be as scared and maybe they’ll be able to handle the situation in a more adult-like manner.”