Becky Citra loves writing about the Cariboo.
Her most recent book, Rachel Bird, is set in 100 Mile House and a fictional Bridge Lake, known as Aspen Lake in the book. The mystery tells the story of 15-year-old Rachel, who moves from Vancouver to the Cariboo to live with her grandparents after her mother dies.
“Rachel discovers very quickly that there is a very dark secret in her family’s history that goes back quite far into the past,” Citra said. “She’s trying to discover what happened to her family. She is trying to find out a sense of herself.”
The secret affects all of Rachel’s family members in different ways and is quite devastating. The coming-of-age story also has a love interest, a local rodeo star.
“I feel very close to this book because it’s the first book I’ve written that is really centred in 100 Mile House. We raised a daughter here who went to the high school here and so I feel very close to this story and I feel excited about how it’s doing,” Citra said.
She said she feels particularly connected to the story, due to its setting in Bridge Lake. She has lived there for the past 30 years and spends her winters on Saltspring Island.
Citra said she changed the name to Aspen Lake in the book “to allow myself a little more flexibility,” she said. “People that live in the area would probably recognize it as Bridge Lake.”
Citra said she found the book a bit challenging to write.
“It’s a complicated story. It took quite a long time to write, but the character of Rachel to me really came alive. I think she’s one of the strongest characters that I’ve ever created,” she said. “She has a very appealing younger sister Jane, who’s six, has a lot of personality, and she has a role in the book as well.”
Citra says the book’s initial reviews have been very promising. The publisher of her book, Second Story Press, has asked her to write a sequel, which she’s currently working on.
Citra’s books are usually aimed at ages six to 16 and include many middle-grade books and some early chapter books. Her young adult titles are normally for age 12 and up.
Rachel Bird is aimed at high school students. She said she would love to see teenagers in 100 Mile House read the book as she said they will be able to see themselves in it a bit.
Citra will be donating copies of Rachel Bird to the Cariboo Regional District Library and the book may also be available at Nuthatch Books. If it is at Nuthatch, Citra suggests people go through them when ordering books because she said it’s important to support local bookstores.
The book was published in May and is also available online anywhere you order books, such as Amazon or Chapters.