Amber McMillan wrote The Woods about living on Protection Island.

Amber McMillan wrote The Woods about living on Protection Island.

Author adopts island lifestyle

NANAIMO – Amber McMillan writes about a year spent on Protection Island.

AUTHOR Amber McMillan’s time living on Protection Island was a significant chapter in her life.

The impact on McMillan was so profound she decided to share her experiences in her latest book The Woods: A Year on Protection Island, printed by Nightwood Editions, which she released this month.

“All of us spend time in a place or at a new job, or give birth to a child and we consider them significant moments in our life,” said McMillan. “I consider this a significant time in my life.”

McMillan also explores the difference between what she expected to happen and what actually happened in her book.

“It raises a lot of questions for me about life and what happens when we expect something, when we have certain expectations and then those expectations didn’t happen,” said McMillan.

She said she expected to have physical challenges on the island, but didn’t expect to have some of the social challenges that came up for her.

“The difference between Toronto and Protection Island was so intensely interesting for me from a social perspective,” said McMillan. “You are just one of millions in Toronto and no one is paying attention to you. When you are one of 200, everyone is paying attention.”

McMillan said there were two sides to the issue. On one side, she felt like she was part of a giant family where everyone was looking out for each other and on the other, she felt like she was under scrutiny.

McMillan said she also wants to have a conversation with readers about certain cultural stereotypes she finds exist in British Columbia in The Woods.

“I’ve always noticed this sort of nagging cultural perspective that B.C. is where you go when you’re looking for the good life or utopia,” said McMillan.

Whereas the stereotype of people living in eastern Canada is that people are money hungry and driven by consumerism, she said.

“I’ve always found it difficult to swallow,” McMillan said. “I don’t agree with any of these representations.”

McMillan said one of the topics she explores in the book is uncovering the heart of this misconception and asking if it is true.

Another topic she explores is the history of Protection Island.

Finding factual information on the history of the island was challenging because so little has been written about it, she said.

“It was really mysterious and challenging,” she said. “It seemed to me to have such an extraordinary history for such a tiny place.”

Many of the stories about the history of Protection Island were passed down through the generations of people who lived in the area, said McMillan.

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