VIRTUAL AUTHOR EVENT // Jaime Lowe in conversation with Lizzie Johnson

Due to the COVID-19 this will now be a virtual event held on Zoom.

Join authors Jaime Lowe and Lizzie Johnson to discuss their books Breathing Fire: Female Inmate Firefighters on the Front Lines of California's Wildfires and Paradise: One Town's Struggle to Survive an American Wildfire on Wednesday, September 1st at 7PM!

This is a VIRTUAL EVENT. You must fill out this form to attend. We will follow up with the event info within 48 hours of receiving your request.

This is a free event. If you are able, a donation of $5 is suggested to help us cover costs. Donate here.  You can also order both books below.


ABOUT BREATHING FIRE

A dramatic, revelatory account of the female inmate firefighters who battle California wildfires.

Shawna was overcome by the claustrophobia, the heat, the smoke, the fire, all just down the canyon and up the ravine. She was feeling the adrenaline, but also the terror of doing something for the first time. She knew how to run with a backpack; they had trained her physically. But that’s not training for flames. That’s not live fire.

California’s fire season gets hotter, longer, and more extreme every year — fire season is now year-round. Of the thousands of firefighters who battle California’s blazes every year, roughly 30 percent of the on-the-ground wildland crews are inmates earning a dollar an hour. Approximately 200 of those firefighters are women serving on all-female crews.

In Breathing Fire, Jaime Lowe expands on her revelatory work for The New York Times Magazine. She has spent years getting to know dozens of women who have participated in the fire camp program and spoken to captains, family and friends, correctional officers, and camp commanders. The result is a rare, illuminating look at how the fire camps actually operate — a story that encompasses California’s underlying catastrophes of climate change, economic disparity, and historical injustice, but also draws on deeply personal histories, relationships, desires, frustrations, and the emotional and physical intensity of firefighting.

Lowe’s reporting is a groundbreaking investigation of the prison system, and an intimate portrayal of the women of California’s Correctional Camps who put their lives on the line, while imprisoned, to save a state in peril.

ABOUT JAMIE LOWE

Jaime Lowe is the author of Mental, a memoir about lithium and bipolar disorder, and Digging for Dirt: The Life and Death of ODB, a biography of Ol' Dirty Bastard, a founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan. She is a frequent contributor to the New York Times magazine and other national and international publications. Lowe has contributed to This American Life and Radiolab, and has been featured on NPR and WNYC numerous times.

ABOUT PARADISE: ONE TOWN'S STRUGGLE TO SURVIVE AN AMERICAN WILDFIRE

On November 8, 2018, the people of Paradise, California, awoke to a mottled gray sky and gusty winds. Soon the Camp Fire was upon them, gobbling an acre a second. Less than two hours after the fire ignited, the town was engulfed in flames, the residents trapped in their homes and cars. By the next morning, eighty-five people were dead.

San Francisco Chronicle reporter Lizzie Johnson was there as the town of Paradise burned. She saw the smoldering rubble of a historic covered bridge and the beloved Black Bear Diner and she stayed long afterward, visiting shelters, hotels, and makeshift camps. Drawing on years of on-the-ground reporting and reams of public records, including 911 calls and testimony from a grand jury investigation, Johnson provides a minute-by-minute account of the Camp Fire, following residents and first responders as they fight to save themselves and their town. We see a young mother fleeing with her newborn; a school bus full of children in search of an escape route; and a group of paramedics, patients, and nurses trapped in a cul-de-sac, fending off the fire with rakes and hoses.

In Paradise, Johnson documents the unfolding tragedy with empathy and nuance. But she also investigates the root causes, from runaway climate change to a deeply flawed alert system to Pacific Gas and Electric's decades-long neglect of critical infrastructure. A cautionary tale for a new era of megafires, Paradise is the gripping story of a town wiped off the map and the determination of its people to rise again.

 

ABOUT LIZZIE JOHNSON

Lizzie Johnson is a staff writer at the San Francisco Chronicle, where she has reported on fifteen of the largest, deadliest, and most destructive blazes in modern California history, and covered over thirty communities impacted by wildfires. Originally from Nebraska, she lived part-time in Paradise while reporting this book and currently lives in the Bay Area.

 

 

 


 

Event address: 
This is a virtual event.
Breathing Fire: Female Inmate Firefighters on the Front Lines of California's Wildfires Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780374116187
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: MCD - July 27th, 2021

A dramatic, revelatory account of the female inmate firefighters who battle California wildfires.


Paradise: One Town's Struggle to Survive an American Wildfire Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780593136386
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Crown Publishing Group (NY) - August 17th, 2021

The definitive firsthand account of California's Camp Fire, the nation's deadliest wildfire in a century, Paradise is a riveting examination of what went wrong and how to avert future tragedies as the climate crisis unfolds

"A tour de force story of wildfire and a terrifying look at what lies ahead."--San Francisco Chronicle