The long-awaited first and only novel from Doreen Zaiss of Gray Creek (April 14, 1945-March 16, 2020) is finally here!

We are so pleased to announce the release of this stunning new novel by Doreen Zaiss of Gray Creek, BC. This novel stretches itself from Zaiss’ Norwegian roots into an intricate and painfully detailed imagined story of a family in the late 1800’s in Norway, struggling to survive in the harshest climate and some of the direst circumstances.

Zaiss was a nearly 50-year resident of the East Shore of Kootenay Lake and a fixture in the Crawford Bay school system as well as culture of the communities of the area. She passed away in March of 2020 but managed to finish this last powerful project before she died. She was dearly loved, immensely talented and is sorely missed.

Her daughter, Ingrid Baetzel, editor of the East Shore newspaper The East Shore Mainstreet, is exceedingly proud to bring her mother’s legacy to any and all who might enjoy.

The book will be available in local bookstores, at the Crawford Bay Market and Gray Creek Store, at book release events and via pick-up and mail-out. For more information or to order your copy, email or phone/text Ingrid at 250.505.7697. If you live in the East Shore region, a pick-up or delivery will be arranged. If the book needs to be mailed to you, arrangements can be made via email:

Doreen spend many years on this manuscript, developing an intriguing story line, fleshing out painfully real and tangible characters, defining a historically specific life of trauma and growth for the family and village she wrote about in The Thorn.

About the book:

A family of women confronts the challenges of living in Norway near the turn of the 20th century as they meet poverty, death, mental illness, sexual abuse, alienation, and Mormon missionaries while trying to navigate cruel winters and the exodus of most of the men in the village during cod season.

Henrikka, a teenage girl, learns to provide for her family as her mother, Johanna, descends into episodic madness. Rikka meets Mokci, a Sámi boy, and together they delicately stitch a love story, a freedom story, a story of yearning and need and courage, and desperate choices.

Rikka begins to learn the way of the Sámi people, cares for her mother and her younger sisters with the help of her elderly neighbour, Dagur, all while dreaming of outfitting herself and beginning her journey to ascend the Thorn, the impossibly pointed, forbidding mountain that looms over her, challenging her, calling her name. Choices must be made, and further loss is certain, as is expansive growth.

About the author:

Doreen Henra Coulter Zaiss lived in Gray Creek, British Columbia, for nearly 50 years. She moved to Canada in the late 60’s, an emigrant from the United States, and found the home of her heart on the shores of a Kootenay Lake in the southern interior of BC. She raised two children, was a high school English and theatre teacher for nearly 20 years, and she spent the majority of her life creating beautiful things that spoke to her creative aesthetic – simplicity, cleanliness, depth and meaning. She worked and created every day… pottery, art, theatre, gardening, and writing. This book was her final labour of pure love. She finished her manuscript, a loving nod to her Norwegian roots, only months before her passing in March of 2020. Please enjoy this gift of her legacy. She would have wanted you to. 

The book costs $30 (extra to ship it via mail). Contact Ingrid for more info: or 250.505.7697.

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