The Advance’s weekly (or almost weekly—there is none in this issue) police report has a fan in Deryn Collier, a former Creston resident now living in Nelson.
With two published novels (Confined Space and Open Secret) to her credit, both set in communities much like Creston, and two more in the making, Collier has turned to podcasting to fuel her lively creative mind. Her first effort, in a podcast she calls The Squirrel, is now widely available on ITunes and other podcast sites, and it focuses on her fascination with our police report.
“I’m Deryn Collier, a distracted novelist. In this podcast I’m exploring curiosities and questions that get stuck in my head,” she says on the podcast web site. The first episode is titled Crime and Place.
“Today, we’re travelling to Creston BC to have a look at the police beat in the local paper,” she says in her introduction. “This weekly column in the Creston Valley Advance chronicles all the mundane, strange, and sometimes disturbing calls received by the local RCMP detachment.”
“The detail of whether a car door or house door is locked is almost always included,” she says, after spending several hours at the Creston Museum, where past issues of the Advance and other local papers are archived.
“I like that Deryn picked up on that detail,” Advance publisher Lorne Eckersley, who has been writing the police report for nearly 15 years, said on Monday. “I picked up on that early in writing this column of police activity. Locking cars and houses became kind of a pet peeve, because it’s that “ounce of prevention, pound of cure” thing—five seconds of your time can save you a lot of grief. When I learn about a theft of a vehicle or it’s contents, or a house robbery, my first question is, “Was the door locked?” The answer is almost inevitably a negative.”
Collier makes it clear that she is drawn to “the quiet humour, so subtle sometimes it’s barely even there,” siting as an example a piece from 2004. “Two young female shoplifters don’t look quite so attractive after being caught shoplifting $47 worth of cosmetics at Extra Foods on June 1. Charges are pending.”
“For example, the jab that not even $47 of cosmetics will make a teenager faced with shoplifting charges look good,” she says. “There’s a definite point of view at play.”
“I didn’t want to force it,” Eckersley continues. “I didn’t want it to become a jokey column, but I knew that if I could inject humour into it then more people would read it more consistently, and I would enjoy it. So it just kind of evolved, with no real plan.”
In the 23-minute podcast, Collier includes local residents reading some samples from the police report, and also discusses with some about what makes the Creston Valley such a great place to live.
Eckersley says, “Part of my motivation for the police news has always been to give people a fuller picture of what police deal with on a day to day basis, and to try to not say it, but let them understand that there’s a lot of things that get called in that are pointless to call in, because there’s nothing that can be done.”
“So what is the police beat?” Collier asks. “Is a gossip column? A joke? A way to fill space? A little thrill for folks in a town where there’s not a lot going on? Is it just too much information? After spending an hour talking with Lorne Eckersley, I see it as more than any of these things. The police beat, under Lorne’s guidance, has become a way for residents and the police to understand each other better. Lorne calls it a long, slow education. And after reading dozens of columns, I can see his quiet point of view in the background, guiding readers towards good behavior.”