For the past six years, I’ve been working on my first novel, Peninsula. The book tells the story of three friends who come of age in the Pacific Northwest at the dawn of the Second World War.
Connected by a passion for the outdoors, the friends find themselves separated by the crush of history as the limits of their friendship are put to the test. In three distinct voices, Peninsula follows each of these characters during a distinct stage of of their lives.
The first friend, telling his story in his mid-twenties, is a web of contradictions. He’s a wrestler, ardent atheist, jazz fan, and unapologetic womanizer who takes a controversial stand as a conscientious objector, eventually serving in a unit of smokejumping firefighters during the war.
The story then shifts to a second friend as he experiences the comforts and unease of middle age. An introspective attorney and conservationist, Frank reluctantly looks back upon his service in the Tenth Mountain Division–an elite unit of skiers and mountaineers who fought in Italy–and the troubled legacy this experience has left him.
In the novel’s final section we get to know Karen, age 84: a feisty grandmother and community activist who reflects on the tightly-guarded secrets that entangled the lives of these three individuals and forced them to confront the sacrifices that love demands.
Set amid the lush rain forests and glaciated peaks of the Pacific Northwest, the novel unfolds an epic story of friendship forged in the mountains and tested by war. Interspersed throughout the narrative are snippets of myths, legends, and odd tales that infuse the book with a pervasive sense of place, a map of the twisting roots of human presence in a landscape.
Peninsula is a book that blurs the line between history and fiction while exploring our compulsive need to tell stories.