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Author celebrates local Kootenay veterans in new book

Local veterans are featured in a new book by Elinor Florence. - Photo submitted
Local veterans are featured in a new book by Elinor Florence.
— image credit: Photo submitted

Ten stories about East Kootenay World War Two survivors are included in a new collection of twenty-eight compelling interviews by bestselling author Elinor Florence of Invermere, B.C.

My Favourite Veterans: True Stories From World War Two’s Hometown Heroes was released on August 22, 2016 to great response from the veterans and their families.

Career journalist Elinor Florence, former publisher of the Columbia Valley Pioneer weekly newspaper, began interviewing veterans about ten years ago during the research for her wartime novel, Bird’s Eye View.

Her work of historical fiction features a farm girl from Saskatchewan who joins the Royal Canadian Air Force and becomes an interpreter of aerial photographs. The novel, published by Dundurn Press in 2014, was listed as a national bestseller in June by both The Globe & Mail, and The Toronto Star.

“Because I had so much wonderful material from veterans, many of whom had never told their stories before, I decided to create an anthology,” Elinor said. “After pondering many possible titles, I finally decided to call it My Favourite Veterans because that’s what it is: a collection of my favourite stories about my favourite people.”

Included in the collection are interviews with:

• Bud Abbott of Cranbrook, former navy pilot

• Joy Bond and Audrey Osterloh of Invermere, members of the local women’s militia

• Leo Richer of Windermere, former Lancaster pilot

• Ed Kluczny of Invermere, former Lancaster pilot

• Nancy Tegart of Invermere, member of the RCAF Women’s Division

• Lou Marr of Windermere, member of the RCAF women’s Division

• Arthur Bradford of Invermere, who flew a Spitfire in England

• James Ashworth of Invermere, who flew a Hurricane over Burma

• Casey Scheffer of Invermere, formerly Kimberley, whose family hid a Jewish couple from the Nazis in his hometown in Holland.

Sadly, all but two of these local veterans – Jim Ashworth and Joy Bond of Invermere -- have since passed away.

Other interview subjects include Fred Sutherland of Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, the last Canadian dambuster; and Jessie Middleton of Abbotsford, B.C., who nursed the wounded in Italy.

All twenty-eight stories are available to read, free of charge, on the author’s blog called Wartime Wednesdays, which can be found here: www.elinorflorence.com/blog.

However, Elinor said she decided to create a print version for people who still prefer to read physical books, and because some of her older readers don’t own a computer.

The author self-published her book, meaning that she paid to have it designed and printed herself, because she didn’t want to incur the long delay involved in finding a traditional publisher. “Thirteen of my veterans are still living and I wanted them to have the book in their hands as soon as possible,” she said.

The book is larger than an average paperback, measuring seven by ten inches. It has 256 pages, with more than 100 photographs. It has large, easy-to-read text.

 

Elinor’s bestselling wartime novel Bird’s Eye View is available at both Lotus Books and Coles in Cranbrook, or through any bookstore. You may also order it online from Amazon as a paperback or an ebook.

For more information, visit Elinor’s website at www.elinorflorence.com.

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