Award-winning Brandon author Craig Russell has been invited talk about his latest novel at a conference in Brazil next summer.
"Wow, is that ever exciting," Russell said Wednesday of his reaction to the invitation.
The Brazilian Association for the Study of Literature and Environment asked Russell to talk about his climate-crisis novel "Fragment" at their conference in Curitiba, Brazil.
The conference is held every two years. The last one, in 2018, was held on the Amazon River at Manaus, Brazil.
Russell had sent a copy of the book to a literature professor who was working in the U.S. at the time and was interested in the literature of climate change.
As it turned out, Dr. Zélia M. Bora, who later returned to her home country of Brazil, heads the association that asked Russell to speak next summer.
"Craig Russell’s clever and captivating novel captures the sensitive reader’s attention from the beginning to the end of the narrative, in a balanced way between the real and the imagined," Bora wrote in the Interdisciplinary Journal of Literature and Ecocriticism. "‘Fragment’ is undoubtedly one of the most important ecocritical fiction works written in this millennium."
The novel incorporates world events that are happening to this day — including large pieces of ice shelves breaking away in the Antarctic — with a tale of political deception, daring rescues and the search for truth.
Russell, a retired lawyer who used to run the Brandon Land Titles office, said he starting writing the novel in 2006 when Stephen Harper was prime minister and denying that climate change was occurring.
"It seemed to me that the scientific consensus was pretty clear (that climate change was happening), and I thought ‘What would be an event in an imaginary world that would really catch people’s attention?’"
The novel was published by Saskatoon’s Thistledown Press in 2016.
Russell said he also sent a copy of "Fragment" to Yale Climate Connections, which wrote a piece about the novel and sent it out to about 300 National Public Radio stations in the U.S. and included it on its 2017 climate fiction reading list.
Based out of Yale University, Yale Climate Connections is a nonpartisan, multimedia service providing daily broadcast radio programming and original web-based reporting, commentary, and analysis on the issue of climate change.
Russell’s first novel, "Black Bottle Man," won the 2011 American Moonbeam Award gold medal for Young Adult Fantasy. It was also a finalist for the Prix Aurora Award for Best English Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel, as well as for two Manitoba Book Awards in the same year.
Russell has directed a variety of theatre productions and his short play, "The Unintended Consequences of Love," was performed at the 2006 Carol Shields Festival of New Works. His stage adaptation of "Black Bottle Man" was performed in Brandon and Winnipeg in 2015.
In March, he was in Richmond, Va., for the stage adaptation of "Black Bottle Man" during a theatre festival there.
"It was quite a neat thing to do," he said.
Russell is currently working on his next novel, "Diviner," a horror-adventure set before the First World War.
Considering it took about 10 years to write "Fragment," it could be some time before readers get a chance to read that novel, Russell said.
"As you can tell, I’m sort of a slow writer," he said, chuckling.
Russell and his wife plan to move to Winnipeg once their Victorian-era home sells, to be closer to family.
» Twitter: @BudRobertson4