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Author finds a Well of inspiration in politics

Norm Hamilton has drawn inspiration from the far north for his debut novel, From Thine Own Well. - Ashley Degraaf
Norm Hamilton has drawn inspiration from the far north for his debut novel, From Thine Own Well.
— image credit: Ashley Degraaf

Norm Hamilton's political, environmental thriller is very timely for people currently living in the Yukon.

But the former Yukon (now Lake Cowichan) resident's first  novel is also quite fitting for folks calling the Warm Land home.

From Thine Own Well draws the reader into a dystopian society set in 2036 where, in Canada's far north, unrestricted fracking and irresponsible mining practices have caused major watersheds and underground streams to become contaminated.

A scant 24 years after the infamous FIPA Canada-China agreement, the federal government has been sued, effectively bankrupting the country and giving governing authority to a group of corporations, The Coalition.

A baker's dozen of unknown, everyday people and one dog are loosely thrown in together in an effort to resist the powers-that-be.

Environmental issues including ones around water supply are near and dear to Hamilton's heart, and have stemmed from his 40 years spent living in the Yukon.

They're also very much the inspiration of From Thine Own Well.

"I'm quite active in environmental issues," the 62-year-old new-to-Lake Cowichan writer said. "And I'm interested in the politics of things. There are some concerns and some issues that have been plaguing me for years."

The retired regulations officer pays close attention to government plans, particularly deals like the October 2012 FIPA agreement, which is a focal point in the grab bag novel that includes relationships, action, and humour as well a thought-provoking story line.

Hamilton has lived in Lake Cowichan for only a year and has already seen water supply issues come up, noting a meeting he attended on the Cowichan River weir control debacle.

"We often tend to take for granted our pristine water sources," he said. "And we need to push citizens to hold our politicians accountable.

"A society that doesn't have potable water, and that cannot feed itself, is doomed to be beholden to, and controlled by, whomever it is that provides these necessities," he wrote in a media release.

Born and raised in Prince George, Hamilton has a varied background including work as a corrections officer, columnist, owner of a pet shop, and his own photography studio.

The retiree has written many feature articles, mostly on photography, published a photographer's beginner book The Digital Eye, and has helped friends publish their pieces along the way.

Writing his own fiction novel's been on his bucket list for quite some time.

And when National Novel Writing Month in November came up, it gave him just the boost he needed.

"I just sat down and began writing," he said. "The characters and story, they just started developing. They kind of wrote themselves."

And after much re-reading, re-writing, as well hiring a professional editor, From Thine Own was polished off, complete with a  cover designed with the help of his graphic designer son.

"In my mind and what I've been told is it's very human,"  he said.

From Thine Own Well reaches out to not just environmentalists but to anyone who appreciates a good page-turner.

"And it's quite thought-provoking. I think it's for everyone. And I have to remind people this is one possible outcome."

And Hamilton's hoping to get more feedback from folks on the brand-new publication.

Most importantly, he hopes to start discussions, whether readers agree with his outcome or not.

"If I can get people talking, having healthy discussions, then I've done my job," he said.

From Thine Own Well is making the rounds in shops in the Yukon, and is also available on Amazon.com.

A book signing is scheduled at Country Grocer in Lake Cowichan on Sunday, Feb. 16, from noon to 5 p.m.

From Thine Own Well is available in local bookstores, including Volume One Bookstore and Tenold Books in Duncan.

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