“Alive. Billy Perreira thought of the Klamath River, north of Yreka, California, as a living, breathing being. Rivers had their own distinct personality, and the Klamath, one day, would be joyful, rolling in soft waves and the next roaring and foaming with anger.”

– Opening lines from my first, yet-to-be-published novel, SPIRIT RIVER

Spirit River

A novel

Imbued with the soul of William Krueger’s This Tender Land and the heart of Amy Harmon’s Where the Lost Wander, SPIRIT RIVER follows the tenacious Bill Perreira between 1916 and 1944 on his quest to be a more honorable man than his father. The novel is a stoic exploration of how hardship, place, and culture shape who we become.  

Bill Perreira doesn’t know how to not be responsible. After his hard-drinking father dies, Bill steps up and hunts for food to help his mother and brother Adrian survive the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. Bill’s instinct to survive—and thrive—is strong. When Junior, an orphaned boy new to town, tries to drown Lahda, a nearby Karuk Indian tribe member and one of Bill’s best friends, Bill dives in and pries Lahda from her attacker.

Two decades later, Bill, Adrian, Lahda, and Lahda’s brother Weitchpec, again cross paths with Junior – now aptly named Mad Dog – who attacks Lahda and leaves her for dead. The four friends embark on a journey along the Klamath River (a Karuk spirit offering her point of view in the story), seeking justice for Lahda, who both Bill and Adrian love. A nail-biting chase after Mad Dog ensues, leaving Bill fretful it will end without the villain dead. . . and Bill’s world torn apart by betrayal. 

Flooded with worry after his brother is deployed during the war, Bill drinks too much and surrenders to the seduction of a woman named Ada. His error in judgment costs him the trust of Weitchpec and Lahda – and makes him question just how responsible he really is. After Ada shares that she’s carrying his child, Bill is devastated by his betrayal but determined to be a better father than his own. He’s trying to keep everyone in his life safe from a violent criminal. But can he do that and do right by his child and win back Lahda, too? 

The Klamath River, Northern California

Meet Kim Leval

For three decades, I worked in management and policy director positions in leading regional and national rural development, organic/sustainable agriculture, and environmental nonprofits. In my last nine-year tenure, I served as executive director of the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides.

I write daily and whenever I’m not wearing my business manager hat in my husband’s Freedom of Information Act law firm (I wrote most of the website copy).

My non-fiction and freelance work has appeared in the NCAP Action News, the Eugene Magazine, and Take Root Magazine. I’m active in Willamette Writers and the Wordos critique group. I’ve attended writing workshops in Portland, Oregon, on the Oregon coast, and in Southern France. Traveling and hiking with my husband and our family, and our yellow lab, “Goldie,” and Norwich terrier, “Misty,” feed my soul as long as I avoid caves, mimes, and ventriloquists.

Follow me on Social Media!

Updates & Blog

Skunk Cabbage

1918 Summer –– "Grandmother, if you had to describe yourself in a letter to someone you hadn't met, what would you say?" She spoke to her elder in Karuk, Lahda's first language. She'd learned English at the local day school she and her brother, Weitchpec, attended in...