An Amazon Village faces Big Oil.
A conflict could cost lives.
It could also save the Earth.
Deep in Ecuador’s Amazon Basin, seismic waves rock the ground. A new road slices the rainforest. It rushes toward an Indigenous Kichwa village, threatening its land and its people. It is a tendril of oil exploration by corporate giants poised to suck the black gold from the Earth.
Oil spills. Rampant disease. Starving wildlife. Dying villagers. All are imminent. The Kichwa must either confront the oil drillers – or retreat further into the jungle as they did to escape the Spanish colonizers, the Rubber Barons, and the Covid pandemic. The silence of death creeps under the canopy signaling the demise of both their ancient culture and a primary life source for the planet.
The heart of the Kichwa village is one family. The mother is Sacha, emerging as a leader in this patriarchal community. Leading a conflict means facing obstacles set by her shamanic father, her two grown sons, and villagers quarreling between passive resistance or violent confrontation. Forest retreat might be easiest. To decide, villagers listen for messages from the spirit beings of the living forest. Messages they trust … messages they know the world needs to hear.
Outside the forest are friends and deadly foes: U.S. and Chinese oil companies, corrupt Ecuadorian government officials, well-meaning U.S. expatriates, two environmental activists fleeing arrest, a wise prostitute, and whip-wielding women defenders of the rainforest – a melee of action and inspiration.
Targeted Age Group:: 14+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
While living in Ecuador, I co-founded a non-profit organization to support Indigenous nations in securing land rights to their territories. This has been a life-changing inspiration. These rights will protect their land from the destruction of oil and mining companies and provide bio-corridors between the Amazon and the Andes for wildlife migration resulting from global warming.
We worked on mapping vital areas of Indigenous land for hunting, fishing, agriculture and living spaces to use in proving the land’s value to the Ecuadorian government. Through the court system, we would legally pressure the government to abide by the Ecuadorian Constitution which contains a Rights of Nature clause protecting these territories which offer some of the highest biodiversity on the planet.
While I’m no longer associated with the organization, I decided to use the experience and knowledge gained to write a fictional account of the struggle the Indigenous people are having with the government and the extractive industries. By including research into the experience of several other Indigenous nations in Ecuador, I extrapolated a narrative reflecting the tragedy these nations are going through.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Many characters are based on people I met while volunteering with a non-profit organization serving the Indigenous nations. Other characters are fictionalized versions of persons typical in government or corporate institutions. Then there's Esmeralda, the sex worker, who is wholly imagined as are the environmental activists Ruby and Lily. Sometimes I just go with my instincts.
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