Pelindaba Lavender owner Lisa Reddick writes ‘The Same River’
Last updated 1/25/2019 at Noon
Lisa Reddick’s new novel, “The Same River,” was birthed at a workshop that focused on how to use fiction to talk about social and economic change.
“It’s doing very well, and I’m really proud of it,” said Reddick, a longtime Edmonds resident and owner of Pelindaba Lavender on Fifth Avenue North
After many years of writing, studying, and editing, “The Same River” was published Oct. 9. It can be found in bookstores such as the Edmonds Bookshop and Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, as well as online.
Jessica Jensen is the protagonist, a biologist who lives on the Nesika River in Oregon who is on a mission to save the salmon. There is also a parallel narrative from the point of view of a Native American woman named Piah, who lives on the same river 200 years before Jessica.
Piah’s people are experiencing trauma from a wave of smallpox, and are unsure why they are sick. At the end of the story, the two women become connected across time. Reddick hopes the story will be inspiring and help readers to engage in a wiser, more thoughtful way.
For Reddick, writing a story that takes place on a river is deeply personal. When she was 14, her 11-year-old sister drowned at a river next to her house where she grew up.
“For my master’s degree in psychology, I did a whole piece of research about the river, including its natural history, learning about the types of animals that are in it in that area, as well as the geological history,” Reddick said. “And then I did a piece on Native American history on the river.”
As she continued her research, she revisited her personal history of growing up on the river, which included the loss of her sister. But it also included current issues salmon runs and the decline of certain species.
As Reddick studied for her doctorate in eco-psychology, a field she would later teach in for many years, her dissertation was on how to use fiction and art to talk about issues in a way that is potentially transforming for people.
After teaching at Antioch University in Seattle for 15 years, she went back to the novel.
“I found a wonderful editor in Seattle, Gail Hudson, who was a co-author with Jane Goodall in her last few books,” Lisa said. “I worked on it with her for about a year doing more revisions. And I got the book to a point where it was ready for publication.”
Reddick describes her writing style as poetic and cinematic, where readers can see and experience the essential environment of the characters and get deeply connected to their feelings.
“What it feels like to lose a sister,” she said. “What it feels like to lose the salmon. What it feels like to be betrayed by someone you love. That is the intention of the book to move people to think, act, to understand more about what is going on in the world around us right now.”
Reddick is working on a sequel to “The Same River” that takes place in the future the same way “The Same River” takes place in the past. This next novel will focus on climate change, she said.
“And I love that it’s going to be a sequel, so I can be with my characters again. They are a little older. Things have happened. But I like that about it.”