Wow. I often prattle on how I’m the luckiest person I know – or that I am blessed. Saturday was/is proof. What a fabulous day.
After five years of work (including significant out breaks of procrastination) I finally completed my historical-fiction novel Lost Souls of Lakewood – The History and Mystery of Blaylock’s Mansion. It’s a historical-fiction novel narrated by an amusing character who chronologically tells the story of the many fascinating characters who resided at Lakewood, a 40-acre plus piece of paradise near Nelson, B.C. including Selwyn Blaylock who built the marvelous massive mansion. It’s a series of tales with the tale.
Saturday was celebration day with the book launch hosted by Mosaic Books. It was a wonderful success in all ways revealing ‘Kelowna’ spirit’ at its best. Numerous long-time friends, Kelowna residents or co-workers made a point of showing up. The numbers had not been confirmed by day’s end but I sold about 100 books first blush.
According to Mosaic that’s a huge amount for a launch signing. A very special thank you to the Neill clan and Mosaic Books for their HUGE assistance and hospitality.
Adding to my joy was the caring and sharing of the day with my best friends Curtis Tulman and Tez.
Tulman pulled out his professional musician chops playing guitar and singing tunes next to me throughout the day. Joining Tez and I at the signing table for much of the day was Louise McGauley, wife of my book project partner Danny who sadly passed away just prior to the book’s release.
It was Danny, column readers might recall, who originally hired me to write the book using some of his memoirs of owning the mansion. For five years I visited the mansion in Nelson, interviewed various characters, and chatted with Danny as the novel morphed into what it is today. Danny and I became very good friends, laughed and lived a whole bunch together and thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company. I miss him dearly.
As wonderful as seeing so many friends gather for the event (an excuse to reconnect for some) I was humbled and honoured to meet many HodgePodge followers. I was sincerely surprised and thrilled at the amount of people who made the effort to come downtown (despite dubious weather) and find me.
Such support is greatly appreciated.
Once the event was over I had a chance to breathe in my back yard and I played the day over and over in my brain, analysing it all. That’s when the reality of my life’s fruition kicked in. The support by friends and strangers was emblematic of my life and why I believe I am so blessed.
If not for strangers who came into my life I never would have written Lost Souls – or probably anything else including this column.
My Mother and Aunty Rae first encouraged and inspired me to write when I was a child. My mother instilled my love for words and books, reading to me as a child and insisting I read quality books or Classic comic books as a child. They helped counter the negative comments of Dad who did not want his son to become a ‘fagot writer’.
When still young I met an amazing pioneer woman named Phyllis Kitson who encouraged me to write my poetry and shared her library of great writers. I spent hundreds of hours sitting next to her and dog Kootsie discussing or reading various pieces of literature. She assured me I had a talent for words and to not quit writing.
High school brought me a couple of amazing English and drama teachers such as Douglas Moore, Ian Middler, Maurice Reveryand and George Hillian who saw my potential as well. Each of them took special time above and beyond class to ‘figure’ me out, encourage me and boost my confidence. Thanks God for them as I was in such need of the positive energy.
However above them all was Eileen Cassidy who literally inspired my lifetime of writing. As my creative writing teacher Mrs. Cassidy was a constant source of support, creative encouragement, and challenged me to write more, read more, dream more. I cannot thank her enough.
I’ve put a lot of miles of words under these typewriter fingers over the years with the support of some wonderful encouraging people including partners Catherine, Sharon, and of course my Tez.
I can safely say without Mom, Eileen and Tez Lost Souls would not be sitting on the bookshelves of Mosaic Books.
I am thankful for all of them.
I truly am blessed.