A writer who once lived in Harrison Hot Springs has finished writing a novel, and is offering it as a free download next week.
Christine Power lived in the area in the ’70s, and worked at the Agassiza-Harrison Advance, and ran a local bookstore. Now she lives aboard a 70-ft. narrow boat, cruising the canals of England. Her novel, The Abduction of Emily Byrne, is a her debut into the writing world.
She contacted the Observer via email last week, offering some background into her own story, and the story of Emily Byrne.
“In 1978, I was diagnosed with cancer,” she writes. “While recovering from surgery, in Richmond General Hospital and forced to face my mortality, I realized that the thing I would regret most was that I would not be able to return to Harrison.”
She said she had many positive memories of the people and her time in the area, particularly the Scowlitz and Chehalis people. This was also where Power was first inspired to begin writing, as a student of what was known then as the Fraser Valley College in Chilliwack.
“However, time went by and I moved on but I never forgot the people and the beauty of the area and had already started putting my feelings into my writing,” she explains. “It has taken much longer than I expected to complete my novel. lthough the story is fictional, based on some of the stories that came out of the Gold Rush, I hope that I have been able to carry out my hopes of successfully expressing my memories of the Harrison River and Lake.”
She adds that she her husband Roger now live aboard their boat, following the Roman roads between Chester and London.
About her novel, she says the story includes references to Harrison Hot Springs and Port Douglas.
In 1858, Emily Byrne is a spoilt and privileged young woman, recently arrived in Fort Victoria from England. She feels as though she has been dropped off the edge of civilization. After a violent altercation with her father, she runs away. Her naivety and obstinate nature lead her into many misadventures when she is caught up in the chaos and unruliness of the gold rush.”
Along with a diverse cast of characters, including the predatory black widow, Mrs. Angelica Thomas, Emily’s journey takes her through a spectacular wilderness by sternwheeler, canoe, portaging and horses. A town girl, she endures the most appalling experiences in the wilderness along the Harrison and in Port Douglas including abduction, rape and sexual slavery.
Despite the squalid conditions and terrifying circumstances, her imprisonment with other women brings about many changes in her attitudes and her life. However, her attempts to escape from those who have imprisoned her, take her to the depths of despair and unthinkable violence.
The e-book version is available for download for free Feb. 12-14.