The Sky was Copper Blue
From the forests of modern-day Nova Scotia to the deserts of a future North America, this diverse collection is eager to see print
These three stories have nothing in common except their author’s byline and his love of the natural world. While this campaign’s goal is $8,400, it would be fairer to say there are three separate goals of $1,512, $1,596 and $5,294 – the rough costs of publishing each book individually. This campaign’s minimum goal is $1,512, the cost to publish at least one of these books. These books will be published in the order listed below, depending on fundraising success.
The Sky Was Copper Blue
This is the story of Madelyn Hathaway, a photographer-for-hire who spends her days working weddings, birthdays, protests and the like across the Halifax Regional Municipality. She is exceptionally talented, but the monotony of her work drives her to the forests of Nova Scotia in search of creative fulfillment. She finds it.
Nature photography challenges her and gives her the most important photographs of her career, not because of their technical quality but because of their contents. From her perch in the provincial park behind her family home, she discovers something lost to Canadian wildlife for over a century.
The Sky Was Copper Blue follows Madelyn as she comes to appreciate the value and frailty of non-human life in a contemporary setting. It’s 20,240 words long and will be published if $1,512 is raised.
Bring Clouds to the Kingdom
The second story in this trio is called Bring Clouds to the Kingdom. In it the Earth is ecologically dead, with rampant desertification turning much of North America into a sand-swept hellscape. Into this continental desert come two men, each with radically different hopes for the lands and people before them, as well as supernatural talents for realizing those hopes.
This is a science fiction novella representing some of the author’s most bizarre writing to date. It’s 21,265 words long and will be published if $3,108 is raised ($1,512 + $1,596).
The third and final story in this project is that of Abel, a young man born into the scrapyards between two warring Martian colonies sometime in the distant future. In an effort to save his family, he repairs one of the spacecraft rusting in the Martian desert and leaves his planet in time to avoid calamity. With the world behind them poised to destroy itself and no safe harbour to turn to, Abel directs his ship to a place unseen by human eyes in several centuries, a place called Earth.
Abel is a full-length novel written in the first person. In it the main character expands his limited knowledge of human history and explores a ship built long before his time, all while struggling with chronic hallucinations that give shape to people he used to know. It’s 70,561 words long and will be published if this project’s overall goal of $8,400 is raised ($1,512 + $1,596 + $5,294).
I started my literary career ten years ago now. The inspiration for my first book hit me in high school and since then I’ve been hooked, turning out eight books and beginning a career in journalism. I’m worked in newsrooms from Ontario to Prince Edward Island, but these days I’m a freelancer, writing environmentally focused pieces which concern the Atlantic Canadian region. I’m also a columnist, writing a piece weekly for the Chronicle Herald. The three books in this fundraising campaign were my most recent projects. Getting them into print would be my crowning achievement after a decade of writing…
Each of these books was inspired by radically different events, evidenced by their complete lack of similarity, but if they all had a common thread it would be my adoration of the natural world. From the strange stories to the relatable one, the violent to the peaceful, you will notice a message of environmental consciousness shamelessly built into their foundations. I suppose these subtle messages were my inspiration.
Excerpt from The Sky Was Copper Blue
The house of Madelyn Hathaway was quieter than most. Kitchen appliances were not left on to burn power overnight, save the refrigerator; the hot water heater was switched off ritualistically alongside the lights before bed; there weren’t even alarm clocks set, because Madelyn had no use for them.
For these reasons, the usual electronic hum polluting the silence of most households didn’t confront Madelyn when she left bed at 4 am. It was Sunday, the day on which her two young children and formidable husband slept in. For Madelyn, this was the day she would indulge in her newest hobby.
She turned on the hot water heater and ate while it did its work. Then she showered, scrubbing herself down liberally with scentless soaps, as yet unused. There was shampoo and toothpaste to match.
The more she prepared, the more apprehensive she became, as happens to everyone before a new experience, but this didn’t stop her from donning warm clothing and pulling on her boots. She picked up a large tupperware container at the door and carried it into the early morning cold.
The late April air bit at her nostrils and any exposed skin still moist from her shower. The promise of warmth and security back in bed tugged at her, but she pressed on, circling behind her house, passing through the garden and continuing down a walking trail blazed through the provincial park bordering her property.
The dark at this hour was intimidating, but she knew this trail well and stuck to it until the first glow of morning lit up her surroundings. She walked for thirty minutes on compressed soil and lingering snow until civilization was well behind her, then she left the trail. Madelyn was not a strong woman in the physical sense, but she was sure-footed. Carrying her container uphill over rocky and unpredictable Nova Scotian terrain was challenging, but she didn’t slip. Eventually, she came across her perch.
It was a brilliant spot overlooking a stretch of land as yet untainted by people. The only sign of humanity was the subtle glow of Halifax on the northern horizon. She wasn’t far above the forest floor here, maybe four or five metres, but it was enough. She moved in among the trees adorning her perch and set down her container. The ground here was mostly stone and wasn’t as wet as the surrounding mud and grass.
There she sat, allowing herself to breathe and evaluate her new hobby thus far. She adored this slice of local wilderness, although she arrived before the sun had given it colour and charm. Every sensible living thing was still asleep and in spite of her thick clothing, Madelyn was cold. She started to shiver as thoughts of her warm bed returned to her. These doubts were short lived.
The sun was fast approaching the horizon and with it came a symphony of birds. They began timidly at first, with only a few songs shyly breaking the silence, but soon more joined into a wonderful chorus. With renewed enthusiasm, she opened her tupperware container and withdrew her digital camera. Placing the camera’s strap around her neck she withdrew a tripod as well, setting it up and attaching it to the base of her camera.
The sun broke the horizon and bathed the forest in red and yellow light. Golden hour had begun.
Madelyn remained very still while scanning her surroundings. With patient fingers she played with the settings of her camera and toyed with her lens’ manual focus, capturing the fleeting beauty of the early morning with care. After several deep breaths, she took a shot.
This shot, her first attempt at nature photography, was a photo of an American Tree Sparrow, which, as she photographed it, dove off its branch toward her. Its spread wings were caught in focus while the droplets of water flung free of the recoiling branch sparkled in the blurry background.
She didn’t know the name of this bird at the time, nor of any bird she encountered that morning, save the iconic blue jay. As a professional photographer, she could only critique each shot for its merits of quality, framing and focus.
Most of her shots that morning were ruined by motion blur as she chased soaring birds with her lens, so much so she was relieved to see a white-tailed deer step into view with a young fawn close behind. The colour of their coats was perfectly suited to golden hour, but the angle was bad, robbing Madelyn of the opportunity to do them justice.
The ideal lighting came and went, and once her photos were ruined by the harsh shadows cast by the rising sun, she packed her equipment and stood. It felt good to stretch her legs after this long vigil, but she was reluctant to move and break the spell playing out before her. She found nature was most beautiful when it was uninterrupted.
Her tupperware container was a burden during her walk home, not because of its weight but because it prevented her from holding her camera. Birds darted freely by and she counted each as a missed opportunity.
When she got home, her clothes came off and she crawled back into bed. The time was approaching 9 am and her husband rolled onto her side of the bed, engulfing her in an affectionate cuddle.
“How did you do?” he mumbled as they settled into place.
She showed him on the small display of her camera. Going through the photos now, she was disappointed with herself. People and places were easy to capture, she mused, but birds and deer wouldn’t pose for her like the drunken bridesmaids at a local wedding.
The husband, however, fell in love with her first photo of the tree sparrow, insisting it find a place on their living room wall alongside some of her other work. Madelyn was sweetly embarrassed by this and insisted she could do better, but the husband would hear none of it.
The photo was hung by the end of the day.