Five questions for Bethany Lindsay, author of British Columbia Burning
What made you want to become a journalist/writer?
I studied Biology in university, and I loved learning something new about the world every single day. I wanted a career where I could keep on doing that and also have the chance to fill people in on all the amazing things I've discovered. I love the fact that any time a question pops into my head, I can just pick up the phone, call an expert, and get an answer — most of the time.
What inspired you to write this book?
I've been a reporter for more than a decade, and I've never experienced anything like the 2017 wildfire season. It was a crisis that felt like it didn't have an end, and every day seemed to bring a new emergency. The stories I heard were heartbreaking and the environmental implications were dire. I wanted to explore how we got to this point, what it meant for people's lives, and where we go from here.
The year 2017 has been described as the worst fire season in the history of British Columbia. Capturing such an epic event in a book comes with enormous responsibility. How did you cope with that?
I knew I had a huge obligation to get this right, so before I started, I read everything I could find about the fires and then just kept on reading throughout the whole process. I carved out plenty of time for each and every person I spoke to, because each story was as much about a series of events as it was about the impact of those events. I can only hope I've succeeded in capturing the scale and significance of what happened.
What was the most challenging part about writing this book?
There were so many stories to tell and only so many pages to fill. I conducted hours and hours of interviews, and I probably could have written an entire book on each person's experiences during the wildfires. Cramming them all into a single manuscript was tough.
What is the main message that you want readers to take away from British Columbia Burning?
I hope people see that as terrible as the 2017 wildfire season was, it wasn't an anomaly. It's not a question of if, but when we'll experience another summer like this in B.C. And every aspect of our lives will be affected — our homes and families, the air we breathe, the wildlife we love, and our economy.