Sci-Fi Author, former city councillor, finishes cross-country tour by electric car

David Chernushenko, who served as an Ottawa city councillor from 2010 to 2018, has penned Burning Souls, a thriller set against a climate and ecological crisis.

Elements of climate change in the story will be recognizable to all readers

David Chernushenko wraps up his cross-Canada tour by electric car in Sudbury before heading back to Ottawa. (Waubgeshig Rice/CBC)

A former municipal politician in Ottawa has taken the issue of climate change and explored it in a new work of fiction.

David Chernushenko, who served as an Ottawa city councillor from 2010 to 2018, has penned Burning Souls, a thriller set against a climate and ecological crisis.

He spoke with CBC's Up North as he was wrapping up his cross-Canada book tour by electric car.

Chernushenko said there's plenty of science in the book, but he balances it out by focusing on his characters.

"My readers tell me that I did a decent job of not making it feel like they were getting a lecture," Chernushenko said. "It was a real story around my four main characters, the burning souls."

The elements of climate change he introduces in the story will be recognizable to all readers, but especially those in northern Ontario.

"It's something that everybody kind of knows, because it doesn't feel quite right," he said. 

"You know the world around us isn't what it used to be, and of course there's always been change."

"There's been dry years, there's been forest fires for forever," he said. "But the intensity of them, the frequency of them, the human toll it takes."

Seeing the impacts of climate change

Chernushenko said the number of people he encountered at hotels illustrated the impacts of ecological change.

"We'd pass through Thunder Bay and the motel we were staying at was full of people who had been evacuated from yet another forest fire, and another reserve for the umpteenth time," he said. "That takes a psychological toll, a huge one, too."

"The loss of things you can get back, but the impact of year after year wondering 'is this gonna be another one?' and 'are we going to get evacuated again and stuck in a motel in an unknown city for a week?'" 

Now that Chernushenko has completed his cross-Canada trip, he said he plans on remaining in Ottawa for awhile, at least until car battery charges become more common along the highway. 

"I had a few scary moments," he said. "I was like, 'oh that meter is telling me I'm really, really low but I know there's a charger just a few kilometres ahead.'"

"It takes a lot of planning and I wouldn't do a cross country road trip in a hurry. "

A former Ottawa city councillor turned author is touring our region this week to talk about climate change. David Chernushenko talks with Up North host Waubgeshig Rice about his new book Burning Souls. 7:33


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