Is there a better gift to find in a Christmas stocking, under the tree or, well, on any occasion? Books become treasured possessions, all the more so when they are the works of local authors. This year, an abundance of choice awaits shoppers in the Creston Valley.
Published works by veterinarian Dr. Dave Perrin, Kootenay Lake farmer and University of BC instructor Luanne Armstrong, environmental activist Tanna Patterson, and musician and fantasy buff Lorn Wolf, to name only a few, remain popular on local bookshelves.
Creston Valley Beauty, a collaboration between local photographer Cheryl Jaggers and her friend Amber MacGregor-Ward, has been a great success since its release earlier this year, selling more than 1200 copies. Mayor Ron Toyota is so impressed with the book that he is using it as a gift to welcome dignitaries to Creston.
In the past several months, five more books with local connections have been released. Their variety is a reflection of the Creston Valley’s diverse culture, and each is sure to find its way into the hearts of gift recipients.
Luanne Armstrong, always a prolific writer, leads the way with two publications.
The first, Slice Me Some Truth, is a wonderful anthology of Canadian creative non-fiction. Armstrong co-edited the book with Zoe Landale. She also contributed a piece called The Sudden Falling of the Light, a realistic and beautifully written slice of life by a woman who has spent most of her years on the family farm near Boswell.
The list of contributors to the book reads like a who’s who of Canadian literature. It includes Sharon Butala, Silver Donald Cameron, Lorna Crozier, Myrna Kostash, Evelyn Lau and Wayne Grady. Owners of this book will delight in keeping it at their bedside and dipping into a story or two before sleep overcomes them. They might even want to declare a snow day to stay in bed and read the book from cover to cover.
Now, hot of the presses, is a new collection of Armstrong’s poetry, Water and Light.
“It is a collection of poems about my life on Kootenay Lake, about walking, farming, seasons, loneliness and beauty, poems I have been writing slowly over the past two years,” Armstrong said on Monday, only days after taking delivery from the book’s printer.
Water and Light is a limited edition book that sells for $15 and is available from the author or at Black Bear Books or Kingfisher Used Books, the latter of which will host a book launch on Dec. 9 at 7 p.m.
Somehow, between raising her two daughters, running the successful Imagine Ink graphic arts business, teaching kids’ art classes, helping fiancé Grady Hunt with the Beyond Wild youth program and turning out gorgeous pieces of art by the dozen, Brandy Dyer has found time to create a book to help bring out the inner artists in young folks.
Oodles of Doodles (and Other Fun Stuff that Encourages Creativity) is designed by the kids who attended Dyer’s Art Classes for Kids (with a little help from their teacher).
“We, at Art Classes for Kids, believe that every child can benefit from art,” she writes. “We believe that art is a valuable life skill, as creativity can solve almost anything.”
All profits from Oodles of Doodles go directly to a scholarship fund to sponsor art classes for children without other means to attend. Dyer also has created a calendar featuring kids’ art, and proceeds go to fund elementary school art programs.
“By purchasing this book,” Dyer says, “you have given a child the gift of creativity? How sweet is that?”
This is her second foray into the book business. Her first publication, Pat’s House, is a loving tribute to longtime daycare provider Pat Smith. The children’s book is available, along with Oodles of Doodles and her original art and reproductions, at Imagine Ink on 10th Avenue North, across from the fire hall.
If the name Michael Haynes rings a bell, it could be that his late wife, Katherine, was a very successful watercolour artist and teacher who made regular visits to Creston from the couple’s home in Bonners Ferry. Or maybe it’s because Haynes is one of Kootenay Lake’s old-timers; he spent many of his younger years tramping around the shores and mountains with his pals.
In Haynes’ memoir, People of the Border, he recalls his early years in the area. His family bought a homestead on Kootenay Lake in 1935 and he grew up there, “hunting, fishing, farming and roaming the mountains.” In 1951, his parents sold the farm and moved to Bonners Ferry, from where he was able to maintain his close ties to Kootenay Lake.
Finally, Creston’s Arnold McKay has published a novel about what happens when a young man inherits his father’s 8,000-acre ranch. Dying Bequest is a story about rural life and its challenges, and will appeal to high school-age students and adults alike.
Think books when you are shopping at this or any other time of year. And remember to say thanks the next time you bump into a local author. Like other artists, they add immeasurably to the texture of our community’s life.