The Novel “Life by Fire”

Like light, creativity, and communication, fire is a contagious energy that ignites collective values and embodies abundance by expanding through sharing. Fire gathers us to warmth and companionship. It soothes and mesmerizes us, in dancing flourishes of flame and swirling smoke.

To our ancestors, at the centre of every camp and village, fire gave warmth in the coldness, light in the darkness, and nourishing sustenance daily. Most importantly, fire invoked the great, intangible lesson that sharing it by extending it to others, rather than diminishing the quantity or quality of the fire, actually created more and ensured that the vital resource would not be extinguished.



The Novel "Life by Fire", Death by Water

Foundations Shifted

1942: Dreizehnlinden / Papuan, Santa Catarina, Brazil: In August 1942, a single German submarine sunk five Brazilian vessels in two days, causing more than six hundred deaths and leading Brazil to declare war on the Axis on August 22, 1942. That’s when the war truly reached Dreizehnlinden, forever shifting its foundations.

The Novel "Life by Fire", Death by Water

Foundations Laid

1933 – 1939: Dreizehnlinden, Santa Catarina, Brazil: By the time Gisa grew old enough to go to school, the rudimentary communal barracks had transformed into small neat houses and productive farms, and the settlement of Dreizehnlinden into a community complete with a church and a store, as well as a school.

The Novel "Life by Fire", Death by Water


Gisa Catarina Gärtner was born at sea on October 5, 1933, halfway between the province of Tirol, Austria, and the state of Santa Catarina, Brazil, thereby becoming the youngest of 91 Catholic Austrian emigrants headed to found a new colony in the New World.

The Novel "Life by Fire", Life by Drowning,

Phoenix Slouching

Tuesday, February 13, 2007: I awaken to the offensively chipper chatter of morning show hosts from the clock radio at my husband’s bedside. Pulling up my knees, I withdraw deeper into the dark, warm covers and lift them over the back of my head, relieved when he hits “snooze” and heads to the bathroom. A ten-minute reprieve.

The Novel "Life by Fire", Life by Drowning

Phoenix Dreaming

Monday, February 12, 2007: Death by fire. I dream of dying in a burst of flames. Searing heat traveling from my feet, up my legs, swirling around me. Hot, dry, release. My soul purified by fire—a quick, dramatic death, nothing left but ash. The antithesis of my life.

The Novel "Life by Fire"

Preface: Birth of a Story

Saturday, July 25, 2009: I lay face forward, sprawled across a pile of pillows, eyes shut, as another wave of contraction shudders through my core. My mouth opens wide into an O and I feel a deep long loud “ooooohhhhh” pass over my lips. Deep breath in, deep breath...

The Novel "Life by Fire"

Forward: Act of Courage

What’s on your bucket list? I contemplated my life from my funeral backward: sobering. What do I aspire to accomplish before I die? My bucket list is short. At the top? Write a novel. I value words, appreciate literature, relish a good book, revel in a beautiful...