Comox Valley author’s debut novel has wide target audience – Comox Valley Record

Inspiration can come from anywhere.

John Carswell drew inspiration for his new book, Great, of a dream.

The 67-year-old longtime Comox Valley resident began writing the book in 2008, during his father’s final days.

“My dad was dying of pancreatic cancer…so around the time dad was away I started writing,” Carswell said. “I had a repeated dream that he and I had one last adventure together and decided to kayak around Vancouver Island. So that’s sort of the premise of the book. My dad is in the book a lot and along the journey they encounter all kinds of adventures.

The last part of the book explains the title. “The Big One” means the same thing to most Vancouver Islanders – a reference to the next big earthquake to hit the island. Experts have been saying for years that it’s not a question of if; it’s a question of when.

In the book, the main characters watch whales two miles off Flores Island when the predicted massive earthquake hits Vancouver Island.

“I’ve kind of always been, I guess morbidly interested in what would happen if the giant earthquake of 1700 happened again on the west coast here, so these guys are surviving it because they’re way out there- low,” Carswell said. “Then they come back and…everything is wiped out. That’s why it’s called The Big One.

Carswell said the story should have broad appeal on Vancouver Island. Much of the research done for the novel is based on lived experience.

“My target audience, I guess, would be anyone who’s spent time on the West Coast or kayaked in one of those places,” Carswell said. “In my life, I’ve worked as a deckhand on a troll, and have spent time, or kayaked, or boated in most of the places mentioned in this book.”

Her due diligence has already been noticed by a fan.

“I got a phone call from someone who just finished reading an electronic edition of the book. They were born and raised in Tofino, and they said, ‘Boy, you really captured what it’s just being there. You obviously know that.

The cover art was made by former Comox Valley resident Dana Statham.

“One concern I had was that the cover might be better than what’s inside,” Carswell said. “But the criticism I got yesterday was, ‘Oh no. What’s inside is more than worthy. It made me feel better.

He also received encouragement before the publishing process.

The book is available online at as well as T

He will approach local bookstores in hopes of securing shelf space there as well.

And what happens next for Carswell?

“Well the way the story ends, there’s a way for a sequel to come out, so I’ve got a sequel in my brain, barely started, but it should sell out pretty well before I keep doing it,” he mentioned. “I asked an editor at Friesen Press to do an assessment of it before we decided to go ahead with the whole process…and they compared the beginnings of it to Tuesdays with Morrie. They really encouraged me, ‘You have to post this.’ So who knows?”

In other words, he will sleep on it.

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Lola R. McClure