July 16th, 2024

New mystery novel dispels gloom of ‘eco-despair’


By Ry Clarke - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on December 3, 2022.

Unearthing the Muddy Truth, by local author and biologist Richard Quinlan.

Local author and biologist Richard Quinlan has published a book encouraging readers to fight the grief of eco-despair.

Unearthing the Muddy Truth, subtitled as An Eco-Detective Novel, looks to inspire readers to take up a stand against environmental destruction through eco-fiction. Delving into the gloom that forms around learning about environmental destruction and feelings of inability to do anything about it, the novel uses fiction to tell a narrative that is easy for readers to enjoy while inspiring them.

“I became aware of this thing called eco-despair, which is prominent in a lot of people, but especially younger people,” said Quinlan. “It’s this feeling that the environmental problems in the world, whether we are talking climate change or global warming, that the problems are so huge and complex that people have just sort of given up and have this feeling of despair. That these problems are so complex that there is never anything that they can do to change it.”

With over 40 years of experience in the realm of biology along with teaching at Lethbridge College, Quinlan describes himself as a “blue-collar biologist” that writes from his experience.

“I had all these adventures with friends and on my own as a kid. That got me into nature as well. So that might have laid the groundwork for me wanting to look more at fiction rather than non-fiction,” said Quinlan. “I felt, if I write something, it has to have an element of adventure and fun to it. Especially because we are talking about some dark subjects that divide people, like climate change. I wanted to keep it light, and make it fun. I didn’t want people to stop reading because all of a sudden, they are feeling depressed about things.”

Following the narrative of a young boy in a fictional prairie province town, the novel follows him and his friends as they work as eco-detectives unearthing the mystery of a development near their community.

“They start investigating this development that is harmful to the environment and they are seeing the impacts in a creek going through town,” said Quinlan.

“In the process they start to find out there are some environmental problems with it and quickly becoming enemies of their own community, even finding out things about their parents that they don’t want to know.”

Published in October, the book can be found on Amazon, and on the shelves of local retailer Analog Books on 6th Street South.

“They are really helpful,” said Quinlan. “To be a new local author, and have them willing to take the book on the shelf and put a little tab that says ‘local author’ to encourage people to have a look at it is helpful.”

With experiences ranging from endangered species conservation, wildlife management, habitat protection, and environmental impact assessment, Quinlan hopes the book inspires readers to know that they can make a difference in preserving the environment. “I hope they have increased awareness of the issues,” said Quinlan. “For younger people, I hope it might shrink that black cloud of thinking that there is nothing they can do to make a difference. Reading this book, I hope a light bulb can go on and they can have that realization they can do something.”

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