’Theft’ :: Kickass Novel With A Heroine Who Happens To Be Gay
BK Loren is a writer who is old enough to know better and does. She lives outside of Boulder, Colorado in a town called Lafayette. According to Loren, " It is the most economically and culturally diverse place in Boulder county." Loren lives with her partner, Lisa Cech, a life skills coach, and their many dogs, cats and plants.
Loren's new novel "Theft" is part love story, part environmental cautionary tale and part thriller. The protagonist is a character, who according to Loren, "happens to be a gay woman, but that is not the crux of the book, it is a part of the main character. I hope it is not the only thing of interest about Willa."
I can tell you it is not. "Theft" is a page-turner, a great read, one where you are absorbed by both plot and character.
Willa Robbins is a master tracker working to reintroduce the Mexican wolf, North America’s most endangered mammal, to the American Southwest. In a wicked twist, the Colorado police recruit her to find her own brother, Zeb, a fugitive who finally confessed to a murder long ago. Willa is tossed back into the past where she has to bring childhood memories to the surface. A mixture of intense love, desperate mistakes, and gentle remorse rollicks Willa as she searches for her estranged brother.
"Theft" takes us trekking through exquisite New Mexico and Colorado landscapes, where Zeb is always two steps ahead of the police. And as Willa closes in she wrangles her desire to reunite with her brother pitted against her own guilt about their violent past.
All of this is wrought in Loren’s lyrical prose. Her voice makes the wildlife and land surrounding these beautifully flawed characters vibrant, and she breathes life into the southwestern terrain she so obviously adores. Within this treacherous and mesmerizing landscape, "Theft" illustrates the struggle to piece together the fragile traces of what has been left behind. This is a story about family, about loss, and about a search for answers.
When Loren is often asked if the novel is driven by a philosophy or point of view; she responds, "I never wanted to drive a point about the issues in the book. I wanted to create a dialogue where readers come to their own conclusions. Too often readers are used to a book that wants to drive a point, either on conservation or gayness or another timely issue. I get calls from folks on both sides of issues: Animal conservation, vs. meat eating. I am not going hammer points. I am trying to tell a great story."
Woven into the texture
The same is true for the fact that Willa has "a same sex partner. She is mentioned, referred to but does not propel the actions. What I hoped to bring forward with this kind of reference is that being gay is just a part of life. I don’t mean to under play it, not say there are no differences. I want to show Willa as outside of the usual gender role we see for women, but inside the box of humanity."
When Loren finished the book and began conversations with her publisher there was a discussion as to whether the gay aspects of the characters should be, or needed to be more pronounced. Happily, the publisher, Counterpoint out of Berkeley, came to the conclusion that Loren restates as " This is a book about humanity and the gay population is a part of humanity. We are beyond making things more pronounced. They are the way they are."
Loren continues, "Most people who read ’Theft’ don’t even mention to me that the protagonist is gay until we are well into the conversation. That piece is so woven into the texture of Willa’s life. One part of a remarkable woman"
The book is clearly about family and how we form families with friends and lovers sometimes foregrounding biology. Loren opines, moving to a more political, wide angle discussion, "Imagine if all of us who feel or think we are on the edges of society realized that if we bound together we would be the majority."
"Theft" features many groups who are often found on the periphery: homosexuals, Latinos, children adopted across cultures and then there are the wolves. These are the protagonists in Loren’s riveting book. And she does know how to tell as story as teaches regularly at the Iowa Summer Writer’s Festival. " I knew I was a writer from the time I was in second grade. My teacher wanted me to change words in a short poem I had written and I refused. I knew instinctively that it didn’t scan the same way. The rhythm was off. Luckily I had a mother who backed me up. I have been owning my words ever since."
Well it is really lucky for all of us as well because we wouldn’t want to miss the chance to read Loren’s amazing "Theft."