Bernadine Morris’ debut novel belongs in the fantasy/science fiction section, but it lives in her heart.
She began writing S.S. Huber — The Dragon’s Eye Crystal many years ago, completing the first six chapters. Then as can happen with busy, working mothers, the project got left by the wayside for some time. But the story always was with her, and when she retired from her career in health care and education, the opportunity to complete the novel presented itself.
Writing had always interested her, and she’d taken courses at both Malaspina and then ElderCollege.
“I had won some awards with some haiku,” she explains. “I had retired and I thought, well, that’s what I’ll do.”
So she set out to finish S.S. Huber, and did so over 2015 and 2016.
“The last two years it really came together,” she says. “But we had all this illness in between.” Shortly after she started on the novel again, one of her three adult children became ill. Kevin Morris was diagnosed with Stage IV Glioblastoma Multiforme, an incurable form of brain cancer.
Kevin, an affable RCMP officer here in Chilliwack, died in Cascade Hospice on Sept. 18, 2016. S.S. Huber was completed in his memory, and as such, proceeds from the sale of the book will go to the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada.
Fundraising for the foundation is one way Morris felt she could honour her son’s memory.
“He was positive right to the end,” she says, even asking his family and friends to commit to completing one random act of kindness a day. Many of them continue to do this, and it gives Morris great hope that he is still making the world a better place.
That theme, that quest for peace, threads its way through S.S. Huber — The Dragon’s Eye Crystal.
“It’s a story for young people,” she says. “It’s fantasy or science fiction but it has a deeper message.”
It explores bullying, intolerance and bigotry, she says, “the roots of war and oppression.”
The notes on Amazon.com explain the storyline best:
“Set in Chilliwack, Sybil Huber’s Grade 8 class embarks on a field trip to the picturesque valley between majestic Mount Cheam and Lady Peak, located in the Upper Fraser Valley. A heart-wrenching family tragedy takes a terrifying turn, leading to existing parallel dimensions and an exotic journey of epic proportions. It is a passionate quest; a fascinating tale of youth coming to terms with an inherited gift of foresight, discovery of their roots and what it means to be family. It is a poignant coming-of-age story, interwoven with fanciful characters. The young and young-at-heart will surrender themselves to this richly imagined tale, leaving them spellbound and wanting more.”
But to go into more detail would ruin the story for its readers, she adds. Each reader will identify with Sybil’s struggle in a different way, and she hopes it brings about discussions of these varying interpretations. She’s even included a page of questions for individual readers or book groups to get that ball rolling.
The book was ready in December, and can be ordered through Amazon or Kindle, and there’s more information on her own website, Morris has a few copies in her home, with its smooth cover and beautiful artwork.
To see it finally published is “thrilling and scary,” she says.
But it’s hardly the end of S.S. Huber. She is still working on the second novel, however the first chapter is included at the end of the first book.
“I realized this story had to continue,” she says. “There’s a lot more to it.”
Morris spends many days writing full time, other days, not at all.
“Sometimes it’s 10 hour days, sometimes less, sometimes none,” she says. “Sometimes I’ll just wake up with an idea.”
Her love of writing brushed off on her late son, who was published himself once in the Red Coat Diaries, a collection of RCMP stories. And as he was going through treatment, and eventually in hospice, he told his mother stories as she transcribed them.
“He wanted to write a book,” she says.
To learn more about Bernadine Morris, her published works, and how to donate to the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada, visit her online at www.songofthedragon.com.