A panel of local writers and artists are gathering at the Vancouver Public Library Central Branch this evening to celebrate BC Book Day.
The panelists will share stories of how living in B.C. has shaped their lives and influenced their writing, which covers wildfire lookout observers, coastal survivalism, and human rights advocacy.
Vancouver Is Awesome spoke with one of the panelists, Mary Theresa Kelly, who is the author of On Mockingbird Hill: Memories of Dharma Bums, Madcaps and Fire Lookouts.
The memoir chronicles her experience with a group of people that worked on fire lookouts, including her partner Daniel. “We were one of these tight groups of friends for quite a few years in Calgary and then I don’t want to spoil the plot line but some betrayals and conflicts happened. People all went in their separate directions after being very close friends,” she says.
Years passed, she moved to B.C. and “realized I had all these letters people had written to me from fire lookouts. I had more than two dozen letters and it was in looking over those letters when I was older that I sort of saw the story in them.”
The Association of Book Publishers of British Columbia says the province is the second largest English-language book publishing region in Canada. Over 30 book publishers are based in B.C. and produce titles in a variety of genres including literary fiction, poetry, regional interest, Indigenous perspectives, children’s literature, cooking, and scholarly topics.
“In terms of BC Book Day, there are just so many stories and aspects to the province that I think a lot of readers don’t know about. A presentation like this gives an opportunity for people to learn more about their own local stories,” Kelly says.
BC Book Day was recognized in the provincial legislature today and marks the start of Creative Industries week, celebrating B.C.’s film, music, digital media and book publishing industries.
“Creative industries enrich our cultural landscape and are a vital part of B.C’s economy. That means more opportunities to learn, more good clean jobs, and a better life for all British Columbians,” says Lana Popham, Acting Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture.