In 1910, millions of acres “died” in a forest fire in North Idaho and western Montana. In 1918, during a two-year period, millions of people died from influenza. Suffice it to say, things can change in an instant.
Author Sherrida Woodley’s new book “Quick Fall of Light,” published by Gray Dog Press, illustrates the latter as a modern-day pandemic spreads, as do fires, left mostly unattended.
The story encompasses a host of genres – thriller, literary, science fiction and love story. “Ultimately it’s a love story,” Woodley said. “The main character’s love for her deceased husband, a logger she meets, and the bird, Gem-X. Under the surface lies my belief that mankind will survive and that good will prevail. We’ll learn from our mistakes and continue on with a better vision.”
The story begins as the main character Josie takes a ferry from Anacortes, Wash., to the Olympic rainforest in search of answers as a pandemic moves across the globe. Long story short, she meets a logger who then becomes her ally. Together they discover passenger pigeons, thought to be extinct, and one specific bird named Gem-X whose existence may or may not manipulate the destiny of man.
Woodley, 60, began writing in her youth, growing up on the North Side of Spokane.
“Writing infiltrated my life,” she said. “It began as a suggestion, maybe a tendency because of so much reading. For a long time I didn’t write because it would’ve thrown my life out of balance. Writing doesn’t always do well up against other compulsions like work, and raising children, and flying airplanes. But what it does, perhaps better than anything else I’ve experienced, is wait for you. No amount of infirmity or hard living will squelch it – in fact, these things often bring about better writing. At least, I think so for me.”
About 17 years ago, Woodley settled on 5.6 acres west of Spokane near the Turnbull Wildlife Refuge and began writing again. “I stayed at home. Writing sort of came from being ‘sequestered,’ ” she said. “I find comfort in solitude (less noise) which in turn allows me to connect to the world.”
Lots of research (hard copy, not Internet) and lots of hours thinking of the 1918 flu that her grandmother suffered through and survived, the demise of the passenger pigeon around the same time, men’s and women’s struggles and desires to survive, the fragile state of the world, and love all led to this book.
“I don’t want to be a fear-based writer, but there are signs that we’re headed toward something,” she said. Woodley’s heading toward the keyboard with thoughts of an extinct dog called the Molossus.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.