Sunday 6 August 2023

The Story Behind the Story with Jeff Kelland of Miramichi, NB, Canada.


Scribbler readers already have connections to Miramichi, a beautiful area of our province. Sandra Bunting, James Fisher, The Miramichi Reader, Chuck Bowie have been welcome guests. This week we can add one more.

Let’s meet Jeff.

Jeff R. Kelland is a 64-year-old Canadian who possesses a genuine concern for the welfare of people and society as a whole, and he has a fierce passion for the written word. Jeff is a talented, experienced writer of innumerable essays, magazine articles, editorials, poetry and prose that have appeared in a variety of publications over the years. He holds a first-class honours B.A. in philosophy and German, a Master of Science in Community Health from the School of Medicine at Memorial University, and he has published a ground-breaking thesis. Jeff is also a sought-after public speaker for various causes and conferences, a visual artist, and he has been a veteran singer-songwriter and entertainer for over 40 years.

Working Title: The novel: The Dying Party

The free prequel novella (available on all major platforms): Two of All People


Synopsis:  The Dying Party, along with its prequel novella Two of All People (available for free on all major book-selling platforms), asks the question: ‘What happens when they tell us it's too late to stop climate change; when we are forced to face a future that will be increasingly hellish, and an horrific end that will come within our lifetimes?’ The novel answers this question with two parallel story lines that alternate from chapter to chapter and eventually merge – one about how the poor will deal with the advancing crisis, and one about how the rich and powerful will fare.

The former story line, starting a few years earlier in the prequel novella, focuses on two main characters. It is late in the 2040s, and Lizzie and Donnie are two of only six people left alive in a residential complex that had been built into the side of Newfoundland’s Gros Morne mountain in the 2030s, now the only piece of habitable land left above water in all of what was once eastern Canada. In the second story line we follow a group of humanity's richest and most powerful, the super-elite, as they try to establish an off-Earth colony for themselves.

The Dying Party and the prequel novella explore in fascinating detail the complex brutality of what having to accept such a fate would mean for human civilization; what it would look like on a global scale, in a local context, and from a variety of personal perspectives. The author’s extensive research shows that if we stay on our present course of inaction, confusion, and complacency, such a declaration will come sooner than we think. The thrust of the novel, however, is to illustrate the under-appreciated impact that passing the climate change tipping point will have on the human psyche; an impact that will further complicate and accelerate what is happening on a number of levels.

This is not fanciful speculation about the near and distant future, but rather the logical extension of the current course of humanity if we continue to fail to up our game. The Dying Party is a courageous, unflinching depiction of the worst-case scenario with a measure of redemption. It is, therefore, a cautionary tale to end all cautionary tales.


The Story Behind the Story: My approach to writing novels is simple and straightforward – I identify a topic that needs more awareness on the part of the general public, research all there is to know about the topic, and then write a fictional story with a dynamic set of well-defined characters that shines a bright and revealing light on the topic.

For example, even after all the shocking revelations regarding the clerical child sexual abuse in the Catholic church over the last thirty or forty years, there is still little or nothing is being done to help these children, which made my first novel, Grace Ungiven, necessary. Similarly, my research into the climate change crisis, and into what we will need to do to successfully address the crisis, revealed that little or nothing is being done to meet the substantial challenge of climate change to date either, making it necessary for me to write and publish my second novel, The Dying Party.

As soon as I completed my research and realized that we have failed to make any meaningful progress in combating climate change, I immediately knew that the best story I could write to raise awareness and spur action would be one that takes the current reality and brings it to its logical and troubling conclusion. I decided I would depict human life on planet Earth as the consequences of our complacency and inaction unfold over the coming few decades; to show the as yet underappreciated impact on the human psyche of passing the climate change tipping point, as individuals and as a race, and how it would only worsen and accelerate the decline.

Aware as I am that the contemplation of such an apocalyptic scenario for humanity will be quite challenging and unsettling, the book includes an advisory/warning at the outset that asks readers to seriously consider their spiritual and psychological fitness before reading the book. I would also like readers to know that the disquieting results of my research was very difficult for me to deal with over the course of the almost two years it took to write, and living with this knowledge since, as I watch ongoing news reports clearly showing that my fictional story may well become true, is onerous. I honestly believe that the results of my research are accurate and, if nothing changes, human life on this planet will unfortunately come to closely resemble what I have laid out in The Dying Party, and this will happen sooner rather than later.

With all that said, I must confess that I have never wanted so badly to be wrong about anything in my life.





A question before you go, Jeff:


Can you tell us about the perfect setting you have, or desire, for your writing? Music or quiet? Coffee or tequila?  Neat or notes everywhere?


The most important factor in my perfect setting for writing would be having complete and uninterrupted solitude. It would also involve a lot of tea and classical music on a low volume setting. And it would be easier to say that my workspace is anything but neat and tidy, than it would be to describe what it looks like. It’s not pretty!



An Excerpt from The Dying Party.


          Elizabeth Antoinette Flint was born the only child of two stereotypical hippie-types from Washington State. Among thousands of people on the flights forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland on 9/11, bright-eyed newlyweds Chet and Amelia Flint were heading to Europe for their honeymoon. Instead, they ended up making the best of it where fate had put them – on a rugged pristine island in the North Atlantic they affectionately call “The Rock”.

          As the world was dealing with the aftermath of the terrorist attack in New York City, Chet and Millie were catching the spirit of the famously friendly island and soon set aside their disappointment about the European trip. Heartily cheered on by the boisterous, backslapping natives, prodigious drinkers all, they made matrimonial merriment with the locals for ten days and nights. When it was time to depart, their bittersweet sadness surprised them both – a special seed had been planted in their bohemian hearts.

          Back to life on the Pacific coast, they tried unsuccessfully for eighteen years to have a child. Then, inspired by a popular Broadway musical about the homespun brand of hospitality Gander residents showed the stranded travellers that day in 2001, Chet and Millie returned to Newfoundland for a holiday in the summer of 2019 and never went back. Their search for a place where they could live off the grid turned up many nice spots around the province, and they finally settled on a cozy saltbox-style house in the little seaside village of Daniel’s Harbour on the island’s west coast.

          A few months later, just as the Covid-19 pandemic was taking hold around the globe, came an unexpected bonus. The change of scenery had done the trick and Millie was pregnant. As middle-aged flowerchildren who had all but given up on having kids of their own, they were elated. They insisted on an all-natural home birth with a local midwife, a harpsichord, two doves, and plenty of granola. And late in 2020, with the pandemic in full swing, little Lizzie came to be. With the blessed arrival of their long-awaited baby daughter in an idyllic pastoral setting they had both been dreaming about since the sixties, they were all set to start living happily ever after.

          That was almost seven years before The Announcement.


* * *


Lizzie shifts around in her chair, belaboring yet another sigh as Donnie sniffs and snarks his way across a room littered with shadows and random pieces of trash. Barefoot, scratching his ass through grimy gray sweatpants, shuffling through a dank stench that no longer registers, he kicks an oil-stained cardboard box aside and stands before the window. Raising both arms, he slaps his palms flat on the glass and allows himself to look out at it again. Fuck.

Over just a few days, less than a month ago, the day sky went from bright candy apple red to a dull flat crimson, progressively more blood-like in color and texture. All that week it had been streaked with black clouds, scattered, stretching across the sanguine stratosphere like random lines scrawled on a bloody page. He realizes that over the last three days it has been changing even more rapidly, and this evening it has taken on an ominous shade of reddish purple that seems to be deepening before his eyes.

          The horizon has been virtually imperceptible for weeks, ever since the last torrid wave came through, smelting another ungodly layer of death upon death. Now it is just a fuzzy white band of sickening haze that is becoming hazier with each passing day. He can see it through the rippling sheets of heat rising from the toxic soup that surrounds what is left of their shrinking, otherworldly piece of wasteland. There is still some difference between night and day, but not enough to matter much to anyone, and it has been a long time since anybody could go outside and expect to come back. Daytime is dark, the night slightly darker, both somehow strangely backlit. They sleep during the day, leaving the challenge of conscious awareness for the night when it is harder to see what’s happening outside.

          Across the globe the atmosphere is steadily breaking down, increasingly irradiated, no longer a sufficient UV filter for earthly life. With no real polar ice caps left to deflect the sun’s lethal rays, the Earth is superheating, and it is so hot now that its axis poles are just beginning to shift, with widespread seismic consequences. Volcanic activity has been rising sharply, and even long-dormant volcanos are becoming reactivated. Earthquakes flourish everywhere, triggering each other, setting off unprecedented chain reactions in the equatorial regions, the so-called “Ring of Fire” around the Pacific now literally so and visible from space. Thick, merciless waves of impossible heat are sweeping indiscriminately across the world, and dense clouds of radiation have started to form and maraud around the planet, riding the wind-driven air masses, poisoning what little there is left to poison.

Looking out on the relative calm of what was once the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Donnie is starting to worry about the changes in the horizon and sky of late. He thinks about the sickening walls of ever more toxic heat that have been passing over them in recent weeks, six now by his count. The first five were so slow they didn’t see them approach, instead gradually feeling them by the noticeable rise in the units’ temperature. But he remembers that the last one was moving much faster than the others; this time they could see it coming, and it was thicker, almost opaque. He knows it is only a matter of weeks, maybe days, before the worst of it finally gets around to the North Atlantic and finishes them too, taking all they’ve ever known and all they’ve ever been...

Thank you for being our guest this week, Jeff. Wishing you continued success.

And thank you to our visitors and readers. Don't be shy. We'd love to hear from you


  1. Excellent session. The Dying Party will be a great read.


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