Special to the Westerly
Many of us moved to the coast because of the beauty of a West Coast summer. Caroline Woodward, local author and lighthouse keeper at Lennard Island, has turned her love for that beauty into a children’s picture book titled, ‘A West Coast Summer’.
The book is a collaboration between Woodward and Salt Spring Island artist Carol Evans, which was brought about after a nudge by Harbour Publishing who thought the pairing would be a great success.
Unlike her first picture book, ‘Singing Away in the Dark’, ‘A West Coast Summer’ was written in response to the art she was provided with, instead of illustrations being completed later on to complement the story. Woodward said she found her inspiration for the story from Evans’ paintings, “which are so highly realistic that they can initially appear photographic” and her parents’ stories of visiting the “seaside in Holland and Wales” during their youth.
Following multiple drafts and a version written entirely in haiku, Woodward said she found success for the story in ‘A West Coast Summer’ by transporting herself “back to being a seven-year-old child again and tapping into [her] sense of touch, hearing, smell, taste, sight and wonder at the ocean and adventure”.
Despite their close partnership during the writing of the book, Woodward and Evans actually did not meet in person until the October, 2018, book launch at the Tofino Community Theatre.
After the launch, they followed a “a busy schedule, doing the slide show and answering questions and reading the book to adults and school children in four different theatres, libraries and the Maritime Museum in Victoria. Plus, signing books at four different bookstore events.”
Woodward and her husband, Jeff George, have been based at the Lennard Island light station since 2008.
She said she finds life at the light station makes working as an author much easier.
“Shift work helps structure my days and…the wilderness and isolation of my life as a lightkeeper gives me lots of uncluttered time to think and ponder and solve fictional problems,” she said.
“’A West Coast Summer’ launched in September of 2018 and was on the B.C. bestseller list for 14 weeks in a row and ended up being number 10 in the Top 20 BC Bestselling books for 2018, so we are quite pleased and amazed by that,” Woodward said.
With the great success of the first collaboration between Woodward and Evans, there is hope for another project for the two of them and Woodward said she is “mulling over some possibilities” on how to continue their partnership.
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