Corinne Heyning Laverty is realizing a childhood dream: to publish a book.

The former banker offers an insightful narrative non-fiction story that reveals an untold piece of California history with her first book, "North America's Galapagos: The Historic Channel Islands Biological Survey."

The longtime South Bay resident, who has lived in both Hermosa and Manhattan Beach, launches her book, published by the University of Utah press, Feb. 23 at Pages in Manhattan Beach.

Laverty got interested in writing her first book after a discussion with former Natural History Museum archivist Cathy McNassor.

“She pointed to a couple of dusty boxes labeled ‘1939–1941 Channel Islands Biological Survey’ and said, ‘If you are going to do all that work, you should write this because it’s never been told and it’s important.’” 

Any indecision Laverty felt was quickly mitigated.

“The moment I began reading the archives—the typed and handwritten letters, memos, and newspaper clippings—I fell in love with the people and the interesting lives they led, and I knew I had to write this book,” she said.

Laverty gained these and many other fascinating insights into the Channel Islands, otherwise known as the “North America’s Galapagos:”

  • The islands are home to 150 plants and animals that are found nowhere else on the planet, such as the Channel Islands fox.
  • Santa Rosa Island is home to the Santa Rosa Torrey Pine, a plant that lives only in a single grove on that Channel island and nowhere else.
  • The islands are home to the oldest human remains ever found in North America, carbon dated to 13,000 years old.

Laverty said museums and collections play a crucial role in understanding the world.

“(Museums and their collections) lay the foundation for the future and allow the scientific process to continue long after individual efforts cease,” Laverty said.

She also hopes her readers will learn the Pacific Coastal Migration Theory of the population of North America, detailed in the book, has supplanted the Ice-Free Corridor Model in describing how people arrived at our continent.

Laverty is a research associate and fellow at the Natural History Museum, Los Angeles County, and an associate of the Santa Cruz Island Foundation.

She’s also one of few people who has spent time on all eight Channel Islands.

In addition to her new book, she’s written on a wide range of subjects for publications such as Western North American Naturalist, Lonely Planet, EcoTraveler, Whale Watcher, and Pacific Currents, among others.

The manuscript for her book was a finalist in the 2016 Heyday/California Historical Society book contest. 

At her Pages debut, Laverty plans to present a slide show of color and historic B&W photographs of all eight Channel Islands, and offer a discussion on some of the unique animals and plants that live there, as well as the scientists who studied the islands.

Among her many interesting talking points will be what happened to the scientists on the day Pearl Harbor was bombed, leaving them stranded on an island in the Pacific Ocean. 

Following her Pages launch, Laverty will speak throughout the U.S. including at the Smithsonian, the Aquarium of the Pacific, and the L.A. Zoo among many others.

Inspired by her own mother’s experience, she will also be speaking at assisted living homes, and donating a book to each of these homes that she visits.

For more information, visit https://www.channelislandscalifornia.com/.

The Pages event is Feb. 23, at 4 p.m. Pages is located at 904 Manhattan Ave. in Manhattan Beach.

Contact Lisa Jacobs lisa.jacobs@TBRnews.com or follow her on Twitter @lisaannjacobs.

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