Prince George born author Jae Waller is releasing her new book Call of the Rift – Flight.
The book is an alt-historic fantasy set in a parallel version of the Pacific Northwest, inspired by conflict between First Nations and European colonists during the Age of Sail. It draws on threads of Canadian history ranging from Viking settlement in Newfoundland circa 1000 AD to Spanish conquistadors exploring BC’s coast.
“My inspiration was a long process,” says Waller. “I got my BFA at UNBC, which is at the forefront of First Nations studies in Canada, so I was surrounded by revivals of indigenous language and culture, as well as a strong current of activism. That was the zeitgeist. All that percolated in my mind for years.
But there were two semesters of particular importance: In 2009, for Canadian Literature, she read Monkey Beach by Haisla/Heiltsuk author Eden Robinson.
“It was the first time I’d read a novel set in my province,” she says. “It felt like reading about an old friend. I’d been struggling with my creative work, and gradually realized I needed to turn closer to home.”
In 2012 through Emily Carr University, she studied Northwest Coast drawing under a Haida/Nisga’a woodcarver, and Aboriginal art under a Kanien’kehaka multimedia artist and DJ.
“They taught me about combining traditional and modern art forms, especially as a tool for change, which influenced my anachronistic approach to Flight that blends alternative youth culture with pioneer-era colonialism. Alt-history is like looking at the past, present, and future through a kaleidoscope.”
She started the novel as a term project for a creative writing class at UNBC in 2013, then picked it up again in mid-2014 and spent a year drafting it.
“Then after getting accepted by a publisher, I spent a few more months editing it. It’s been a long ordeal.”
Waller will be at Cafe Voltaire, Books and Co. March 28 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. signing copies and talking with guests.
Waller graduated from Emily Carr/ UNBC with a literary arts degree and has also attended UBC while working towards her masters degree.
The book is the first in a series of five, a fantasy fiction portraying a strong female lead character.
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