What a joy it was to see almost fifty excited people come through the doors of the tiny bright yellow building that is The Voglers Cove Community Hall (VCCH) on Wednesday 15th October.
After three weeks of planning, promoting and sharing of passions, two members (yours truly and Kat) of the society and one energetic volunteer (Elke) from the VCCH pulled off an evening to be well proud of. I should add that Kat and Elke are founders of the impressive little library: The Read and Share Corner - which occupies the left wing of the VCCH building shown here. The Read and Share Corner co-sponsored this event.
As the sign says, on Wednesday, Author, and Fortress Louisbourg historian, AJB Johnston kicked off his Maritime tour for The Maze, the second novel in his quartet that follows the exploits of Thomas Pichon.
Kat Wright manned the door with her welcome hat on and provided information with a panache that any celebrity host would envy.
Elke Love, with her generous smile, kicked off the formalities with a welcome to all with one hand while preparing coffee pots and groaning boards of goodies with the other. The hall buzzed with anticipation for both the presentation and the food.
Seemingly invisible wonderful volunteers ensured all guests were happy.
Sue attempted to give a squeezed overview of what the Liverpool Literary Society is, its hopes for future growth, stressing the openness of it all, welcoming anyone to come along and join in the monthly gatherings. She then went on to introduce the guest, AJB Johnston, the gist of which went something like this:
“A few weeks I got this phone call: are you the Liverpool Literary Society?
me: gulp, I suppose I must be.
caller: my name is John Johnston and I am planning my Maritime book tour and wondered if I could come along to one of your meetings.
me (scratching head and wondering if I should know who John Johnston is!): fabulous, that would be wonderful, but I’ll have to ask the members.
That conversation sparked off the activity that has resulted in tonight’s event.
My 90 year old mother says “if you want something doing, ask a busy woman”
Three busy women have made this evening happen for you. Kat Wright, Elke Love, and I come from totally different backgrounds with skills and talents that were soon put to work. Under Kat’s magnificent orchestration, thank you Kat - and with Elke’s unbelievable go-getting approach - thank you Elke, and with a minimum of short meetings we have, together with the techno wizardry of David (more applause) - put tonight together for you...
(big chunk cut from here so as not to bore you further!)
...At the heart of the book business is the writer, the author, the poet. Without these unique people, the publishers, book sellers etc etc etc - yes, that lot, yes even the book case maker would be out of work.
The world has always needed - and always will need - writers to bravely let us into their minds, to share their imaginings, their insights, and their secrets through their words.
AJB (John) Johnston is such an author. But an author with a difference. As historian at Fortress Louisbourg, John has the benefit of many years of academic research in his chosen field. They say ‘write about what you know’ and so to apply the results of that research to fiction must be a joy indeed.
I sent John an email a few days ago asking how he would like to be introduced. He very modestly and humbly referred me to his website. Being a bit of a rebel - instead I went digging:
According to Wikipedia Andrew John Bayly Johnston is a Canadian historian and writer. He is the author, or co-author, of fourteen books and over 100 articles on different aspects of the history of Atlantic Canada.
His work has won numerous awards - but the award that caught my eye and imagination was this one:
AJB Johnston is a Chevalier of the Order of Academic Palms - an award originally founded by Napoleon and now awarded by France to major contributions to the expansion of French culture outside of France.
Blimey O’Riley - we don’t know what gems we have in this fabulous province, do we!
John is kicking off his Maritime book tour right here in Voglers Cove. He has brought with him The Maze, the second book in his quartet of historical novels, on which one reviewer says - and I quote "Taking on historical fiction and imaginatively recreating the inner life of one of Canada's most controversial early historical figures would be beyond the reach of most scholars. A. J. B. Johnston ... is more than equal to that challenge."
Phew - are we lucky or what!
John is also, I hope, going to tell us more about his transition from historian to novelist.
It therefore gives me great pleasure to hand over now to our guest John (AJB) Johnston.
SBB October 17 2014