When I first read John Vaillant’s story about “The Golden Spruce” in The New Yorker I had two simultaneous thoughts… what an incredible story and... who the heck is John Vaillant?
I definitely don’t know the work of every writer in Vancouver, but I couldn’t believe there was someone in my city who wrote this wonderfully, who I’d never heard of. The article is one of the best I’ve ever read. It’s an amazing story, beautifully told.
But the book rocked my world.
It wasn’t just the rich history of the Spruce or the drama and mystery of renegade logger, Grant Hadwin, that impressed me, it was the way John wove in the history of logging and the BC forests.
When The Tyee agreed to let me do a podcast, John was the first person I contacted. He not only agreed to be interviewed, he provided me with a list of other potential interview subjects -- many of whom you’ll hear me talk with soon.
Most interviews with John focus on the man who killed the Golden Spruce, but I wasn’t interested in Grant Hadwin’s story for this. I wanted to know what a writer from the U.S. saw in Haida Gwaii that all the writers in BC had missed. I also wanted his thoughts on our forests, the way they’re run, and the new story he’s doing for National Geographic -- both because it sounds like a fascinating model for land management and because I’m really looking forward to reading it when he’s done.
John and I talked at his kitchen table in his home in Vancouver, BC. So if you hear any squeaks, that would be the sound of wooden chairs shifting on a hardwood floor. And in a podcast about trees, I kind of like the idea of punctuating it with the music of creaking wood.