Author Aaron Williams is touring with his new book Chasing Smoke: A Wildfire Memoir and will be in Williams Lake on Oct. 17 at the Williams Lake Library. Photo submitted

Author to read from firefighting memoir

Aaron Williams will be in Williams Lake on Oct. 17 to read from his book, Chasing Smoke: A Wildfire Memoir

In the summer of 2014 Aaron Williams was inspired to write about his experiences as a firefighter.

It was the 31 year old’s ninth and what would become his final season working for the BC Wildfire Service and the writing exercise became a way for him to share an insider account of how a fire season unfolds physically, mentally and emotionally.

Eventually those musings became the basis for a book and this month Harbour Publishing is releasing – Chasing Smoke: A Wildfire Memoir – and Williams will read from the book at the Williams Lake Library on Tuesday, Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. as part of a B.C. book tour.

“It’s been a nice way to commemorate what I think was a special thing to be a part of,” Williams told the Tribune. “I think I wrote it at the right time because I was on my way out and felt as if I was removed from the fire crew. I was still part of a crew, but it was really the first year I was able to stand back and witness from a distance.”

During the time he began writing the book he was working out of Smithers, where he worked most of his firefighting career with the Telkwa Rangers.

He wrote every night after work for about 20 minutes before bed.

If he was at the base in Telkwa he would type on his computer but if he was out on the fire lines, then he wrote by hand.

By the end of the summer he had a “very rough” draft, which he rewrote that fall and a bunch of more times before he started sending it to to various publishers.

“Eighteen months after I sent it to Harbour they contacted me to say they were interested in publishing it,” Williams said.

Williams grew up in Prince Rupert, B.C. on the north coast. After high school he attended Kings College in Halifax, N.S.

He has completed degrees in English and journalism and is now working on an MFA in creative non-fiction writing.

For several years he has been writing on the side and has been published as a freelancer in The Globe and Mail, Halifax Chronicle Herald and the Vancouver Observer.

Chasing Smoke is his first book and Williams said he has a hunch in the future he will look back and be a little embarrassed about the quality of the writing, but at the same time he said the emotion comes through in a way he may not be able to capture in the future.

This summer Williams took a leave from his job with Air Canada in Halifax and returned to firefighting for a few weeks in B.C.

He assisted on the Spokin Lake Road fire for three weeks at the end of July and on the Kleena Kleene fire for two weeks in September.

“I wasn’t working for the ministry,” he said of the summer’s firefighting. “I joined a contract crew at first and then my friend and I made our own contract crew. We were building guard and cutting hose trails.”

While his experiences in the Cariboo-Chilcotin are not in the book, perhaps he will have some insights to share of the 2017 fires when he does the reading in Williams Lake.

Williams is presently working on a second book – this time about the logging industry.

He said he has interviewed many older loggers in hopes of understanding their lives and their work.

Just Posted

CRD wants feedback on wildfire emergency response

The Cariboo Regional District will be hosting meetings and using a survey to gain feedback about its emergency response to the wildfires.

Cub Scouts break a sweat

Williams Lake Cub Scouts were building sandbags as part of their yearly fundraiser Saturday.

Search continues near Ashcroft for missing Prince George woman

Jenny Lynn Larocque’s vehicle and dog were found in Venables Valley, but there is no sign of her

Search for missing B.C. man a race against winter weather

David Jeff of Williams Lake was last seen in Kamloops during the chaotic wildfire evacuations

Book drive for fire victims

Retired teacher inspired to help local families rebuild their home libraries

Terrace River Kings overcome Williams Lake Stampeders 6-5

It was a back-and-forth game, played into second overtime before the team secured the win

WATCH: 10,000 signatures gained to stop ‘no pets’ rental policy

Pets OK BC said about 1,700 animals were surrendered to the BC SPCA last year due to housing issues

Silver Creek reacts after remains found, man arrested

Neighbours of property where remains were found say man arrested was sweet and polite

VIDEO: Oprah Winfrey and a celebrities attend ‘B.C. Miracle Concert’

Fundraiser featured Foster, Steven Tyler, The Tenors, Matteo Bocelli, Laura Bretan, Carly Rae Jepsen

Human remains found at Silver Creek property

RCMP have been searching the property in the 2200 block of Salmon River Road for the past three days

New B.C. acute care centre opens for young patients, expectant mothers

Facility aims to make B.C. Children’s Hospital visits more comfortable

Police officer hit by car, stabbed in Edmonton attack back on job

Const. Mike Chernyk, 48, returned to work Thursday

UBC medical students learn to care for Indigenous people

Students in health-related studies to take course, workshop to help better serve Aboriginal people

Dorsett has 2 goals, assist in Canucks’ 4-2 win over Sabres

‘It was a real good hockey game by our group,’ Canucks coach Travis Green said.

Most Read