We're here to pay our respects to Cynthia. The best way I can
do this is by telling you about when she and I met.
Several years ago, more years than I care to remember, I had
a crate full of data including interviews, notes and photos about
a small resource town called Cassiar. So, I thought, "I might
get a book out of this." Hmmm
A few years later I had a manuscript. I assumed it would be published.
So with enthusiasm that only a neophyte book writer can have
I set out to find a publisher.
I searched the web and found the BC publishers website. I found
a lost list of potential publishers. This will be easy I thought
I soon realized that most publishers have focused areas and many
of the publishers down south had a restrictive definition of what
the north was. We were hicksville man!
But eventually I saw Caitlin Press on the list.
I had certainly heard about Caitlin Press and had read and enjoyed
many books it had put out. There was the stable of Caitlin authors
including Vivien Lougheed, Jacquie Baldwin and Richard Thompson
who had published a book with Caitlin.
It seems like a perfect match! I had a book that needed to be
published and Caitlin Press was a Prince George publisher with
a central-northern BC mandate.
I sent off my manuscript to Cynthia. I waited. I checked the
e-mail. I checked the snail mail. I drank coffee. You can imagine
how my chest swelled when at last I heard from her and she said
that she liked my book and wanted to publish it! It was scheduled
to be printed in 2003.
Wow! I thought. This is easy! Margaret Atwood, watch out!
.now , those of you who are writers must have seen
Cynthia e-mailed me to say that she was no longer publishing
books because of the bad state of the book industry.
She was very sorry about the whole situation and had never had
to do this before. "Look for another publisher," she
To say I was disappointed was an understatement.
So I reluctantly sent my book to several lower mainland publishers
knowing that my topic really wasn't for them and I wasn't famous
so I couldn't catch their attention that way. I wasn't even sure
I was a good writer at this point.
I even sent the manuscript to a northern publisher hoping that
they would stretch their definition of "the north" to
go a bit farther south than the BC/Yukon border.
No Luck. I got some rejection letters telling me the book was
interesting or well written but generally, "It didn't meet
their editorial needs."
In fact, one publisher, who didn't know that Caitlin had stopped
publishing, wrote that I should send it to Caitlin because it
was THE publisher who focused on these northern topics.
I didn't have the strength of character to get yet another rejection
letter but I really wanted to have the book produced by a publisher
rather than going the self-publication route. So the book sat.
In the spring of 2003 I received an e-mail from Cynthia. I let
it sit for a while, unopened. I didn't know what she wanted but
I was afraid to look and see. When I finally did open it, coffee
cup clutched tightly in my hand, I found that she was back in
operation and if I still wanted to have Caitlin publish my book,
she had a contract for me to sign.
Well. In what felt like a flurry of activities after such a long
dormant period, Cynthia read the book and we did some editing.
Then, she sent the book to a lawyer to make sure we wouldn't
get sued. Apparently, quoting people being overheard in a bar,
even though several people said the same thing, wasn't proof that
I figured the journalistic standard of two corroborating witnesses
was proof, but apparently in this case, it wasn't.
So we took some stuff out and changed a few words and a few months
later, after the book design and proofs were done and approved,
the book was out. Just like that!
Okay, it really wasn't just like that. I'm talking to writers
here. I took time and Cynthia took time and together we both took
After the book was out and on the shelf, I stated getting feed
back - the attention we all clamor for - I was on radio. I got
e-mails from readers. But most important, I got feedback from
former Cassiar residents expressing appreciation of the book as
a history of their town.
To add the cherry on the sundae, not only did the book come out
but it made it onto the BC bestseller's list for six weeks.