Having lived in South America until the age of seven, Abbotsford resident Theresa Chevalier, 47, recounts memories of walking through jungles with her father and hunting for berries.
Those flashbacks helped her create an exotic backdrop for her second novel, “Green Hell,” the story of which is based in Gran Chaco (the hunting land), a central area in South America between countries Bolivia, Brazil, and Paraguay.
Escaping communist Russia in the 1930s, a family then travels to South America.
Battling alongside the Paraguayans, Bolivians, Native Indians and Mennonites to claim the Gran Chaco, the family meets more conflict when they discover a mystical evil present in the jungle.
Based on real events, Chevalier stated that she has binders of research. In her book, she tries to portray the thoughts and feelings of the four different cultures and the war that ensued in that area.
“My books are the perfect blend of fiction and non-fiction. The characters, I make up, but what they go through is very real.
“Learning about all the different customs and their way of life is a very rewarding experience for me and from what my reading audience tells me, they appreciate when it’s brought to them in a story format.”
Her first book, “Shameful Innocence,” took place in Russia during WWII.
It has since been translated into German, Chevalier’s first language.
The book took seven years to write at the time because her children were younger.
Now that they are all grown up, Chevalier says her four kids are very proud of their author mom.
“When I start writing my book, I have a certain idea in mind, usually something I want the family to deal with. But then it takes on a life of its own.”