David Pitt-Brooke’s Chasing Clayoquot provides a month-by-month showcase of the vast array of experiences that can be found in Clayoquot Sound.
“In each of the 12 months that Chasing Clayoquot is built around, there’s something amazing to go out and look at; compared to most other places that people live there’s a lot there for a writer to be inspired by,” Pitt-Brooke told the Westerly.
He hopes the almanac-style piece helps visitors find the magic they’re after when they come to the West Coast.
“They come in looking to touch something of that ineffable centre of things there trying to get a taste of whatever it is that makes people fall in love with the west coast but they have such a short time and they don’t know where to go looking,” he said.
“I thought that a book is not quite the same as a direct experience but it is a bit of a way of maybe introducing them to the beautiful things on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.”
Pitt-Brooke had been living in Tofino and working at the Pacific Rim National Park for about 10 years before he got serious about writing the book and he set out to capture the magic of his surroundings.
“I was in love with it,” he said.
“It’s hard to rationalize why one is in love with anything but I was in love with it and I am in love with it so I wanted to write about it…It’s kind of an anthem of praise really Chasing Clayoquot; it’s a love song.”
He said expressing his love for the area proved to be no easy task.
“It’s a huge project writing a book and words don’t come particularly easy to me,” he said.
“People fall in love with the landscape by experiencing it firsthand…So, writing is odd because you want to be out there experiencing the countryside that’s where the magic is and yet you shut yourself away in a little dark room in front of your computer.”
He touted the West Coast’s landscape as a picturesque muse.
“You drive for miles and miles and miles through urban blight, heavy traffic and then you come out the other side of Port Alberni and you’re into the wild country and even now it’s not a hundred per cent pristine, we know that, but compared to other landscapes its pretty lovely,” he said.
He added publishers saw the potential of his book based on the interest in the area.
“Publishing is a business and they were aware that there was a large potential readership out there,” he said.
“I set out to write about Clayoquot Sound come hell or high-water but I benefitted of course from the fact that there are literally millions of people around the world who have or feel they have a special persona bond with that piece of landscape.”
Chasing Clayoquot was published in 2004 and Pitt-Brooke is currently working on a sequel set in B.C.’s interior.
“Those arid valleys are my home landscape that’s where I grew up so I’m trying to write again about the bond that I feel with those landscapes and a sort of personal encounter with the wild country,” he said.
“This will be I hope a fitting sequel to Chasing Clayoquot something very much in the same vein; a personal encounter with the wild countryside.”
He said writing about place is important.
“I believe there is an essential bond between human beings and their beloved landscapes and beloved places that’s healing for us and that’s important for us and in this modern day and age that bond is so fragile,” he said.
“Books about place are one way of strengthening that bond so I’m glad for any effort that’s made to make readers aware of these beautiful books that are being published on these lovely landscapes in British Columbia.”