On Thursday November 5 Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village hosted a book signing event. Local authors were gathered around a festive tree, presenting their works to the public and signing them. Authors in attendance included Joey Ambrosi, Tyler Trafford, Doug Rawling, Peter Brouwer, Pat Moskaluk, Farley Wuth, Christopher Hoare, Jane Harris, Gord Tolton, and Wendy Davies. Colleen Casey Cyr also showed off the museum's improved gift shop, which was redesigned last spring.
Frank Slide Interpretive Centre historian Joey Ambrosi attended, showcasing his book on nearby hiking trails, Southern Rockies Trail Guide, which includes areas not normally covered in trail guides. “I’ve written three hiking books, and two fishing books, but I’m a historian by trade,” explained Ambrosi. “This is kind of spare time stuff.” Every trail in Ambrosi’s guide has an elevation graph, taken from topographic maps. His fishing books include secret lakes. “I’ve always liked that when you write a book you tell everything,” he explained. “I want to see this area promoted. Pincher Creek, Waterton, and the Crowsnest Pass for sure. This is one way to do that, because there’s not a lot of guides on this area, but there’s so much wonderful hiking in it.” The current hiking trail book is the third produced by Ambrosi. “One back in the 80s started by following the roots of explorers. We’d go back to the explorer’s journals and do some of the pass as they did, like the North Kootenai Pass.” In addition to his hiking and fishing books he has written a book on the history of the Blairmore Courthouse, and the rum-running that was done out of it, and has worked with artist Claude St. Aubin on a series of comic books about the Frank Slide.
Link - Joey Ambrosi's Amazon page.
Tyler Trafford spoke with me about his book Almost a Great Escape, which chronicles the story of his mother’s lover, a Norwegian fighter pilot, and his escape from Stalag Luft III, the famous German POW camp. Trafford discovered this story from letters his mother had left behind following her passing. “I inherited this cardboard box, and inside this box was this really beautiful photo album. And the album was full of these letters.” The pilot was one of only three people to ever escape from Stalag Luft III. “She never said what happened,” said Trafford. “And it took me three years to figure out what had happened.”
“I was a journalist. So when I got these letters, I just started to take notes and try and keep track of things. Trying to find out about my mother’s family, why wouldn’t she have married this guy, how to find him. I wrote it in less than a year, and then I put it away. And then I gave it to a friend, and he said it was really good, so I got it published. Trafford previously wrote the Sun of the Mountain Series, a story about a family from Philadelphia who married into the Blackfoot tribe. Trafford brought copies of all three books in the series to Kootenai Brown. Almost a Great Escape won the 2014 Alberta Readers' Choice Award (worth $10,000), the Wilfrid Eggleston Award for Non-Fiction, and the City of Calgary's W.O. Mitchell Prize .
Link - Tyler Trafford's Amazon page
|Authors Doug Rawling (left) and Tyler Trafford (right) chat at book signing event|
Next I spoke with Doug Rawling, an author and songwriter who has written a series of western themed fiction novels. Each novel is a stand-alone. Rawling has been writing since childhood, and painted the covers for each of his novels. “When I was a little kid I started writing songs and poetry, just for my enjoyment. Over the years I start two or three books, get three or four chapters written, and then put it away and forget about it. But when I wrote this one, I decided I’m just going to treat it like a job and finish it. And then the more I got into it the harder it was to focus on other things because I was really starting to enjoy it.” His newest novel, The Bronc Stomper, took him a little over a year to write. “I think the first one I had on the go for about three years before I could publish it.”
Link - Doug Rawling's Amazon page
Link - Doug Rawling's Amazon page
Pat Moskaluk presented two works: one on the history of Saint Michael’s Parish, and another on the history of the North Fork School. “There wasn’t anybody else to write the book,” said Moskaluk. “The book on the North Fork school I wrote simply because all of the materials were disappearing, and the schools were disappearing, and the information is housed in the Glenbow in Calgary. And in my opinion it should be housed here. I just felt that it was being lost, and I wanted to write it. So that was the first one, and then for the second one there was an appeal for somebody to write the history of Saint Michael’s Parish, because it had never been done as well.” Moskaluk personally attended the North Fork School as a child, and spent a year researching and writing the book on it. She spent almost two years writing about Saint Michael’s Parish, and she spent time at the Provincial Archives of Alberta researching it. “All of the records that were here were sent to Edmonton for safekeeping.” She said one of the more interesting parts of researching the book was meeting the people who had been living in Pincher Creek during the years of Saint Michael’s Parish. ”Had I grown up here I probably would have absorbed some of the history, like you do. But when you don’t, and you’re going in with a blank piece of paper it does take a lot of work.”
|Finding Home in the Promised Land by Jane Harris|
"We have a lot of social exiles" Harris explained. "I had to deal with my own suffering, but I had to make it bigger. I had to make it worth something," she said. "On the one hand is my story. But on the other hand is our nations story, We can't keep doing what we're doing. It's costing us millions. It keeps people poor." Her novel combines the stories of her great great grandmother and her own struggle to demonstrate the dichotomy between traditional poverty, and the struggle within the modern world. "We took a lot more care than my last book, because its a literary book," explained Harris, discussing the prose of the final chapter.
Unfortunately I missed the opportunity to interview Lundbreck's Chris Hoare, who has authored fantasy and fictionalized history books (click here for a 2013 story about Hoare). We'll be featuring his work again soon. Hoare has been working on improved publications of his novels, now 12 in number. Also, visit his website at www.christopherhoare.ca .