Rossland’s secret society meets every Wednesday night in the back room of the Seniors’ Hall, seated around a table set with cups and saucers for coffee or tea.
One week before Christmas there is also a tray of holiday goodies to go with the usual cookies.
There are five writers at the table: Les Anderson, who runs the group and who has written articles for magazines and newspapers; Philip Matyszak, a PhD graduate from St. John’s College, Oxford who specializes in ancient history, teaches for Cambridge University through their eLearning program, and goes by Maty; Skip Rowland, who is working on getting his first book published; Alice Cristofoli, a Trail resident who’s new to the group; and your friendly neighbourhood reporter, also new to the group.
The evening takes the form of a discussion, spurred by readings from those present.
Anderson has brought an article he wrote for Canada’s History about Fruitvale resident Katy (Ireland) Olsen’s 500-mile trek from southern to northern Saskatchewan when she was ten years old.
Anderson read out a few experts from the piece, detailing Olsen’s family’s struggles to make it across the province with four horses, a freight wagon and everything they owned.
Cristofoli was attending the discussion because she wants to write her own family’s history, and her interest and Anderson’s reading sparked a discussion about tracing family lines.
Cristofoli also brought an excerpt of her writing to read aloud about the time she met Norwegian hero Thor Heyerdahl.
She is of Norwegian decent and in fact made a trip back to Norway the year that Heyerdahl made his famous trip across the Pacific Ocean to prove Polynesia could have been settled by people from the Americas. She didn’t meet him until much later, during the 1990s, when he was the guest of honour at the Scandinavian American Hall of Fame in Minot, North Dakota.
This topic connected well with the subject of Rowland’s book, No Return Ticket, which is about his voyage around the world on a 43-foot ketch with his wife. He read an excerpt from the book about the time an Australian warship transferred them a jar of apple sauce for their pork chops, mid-sea.
Rowland is in the process of trying to get his book published and said he is extremely grateful for the support he gets from the writers’ group, who give him both encouragement and advice.
Matyszak has published 20 books so far and is hard at work on the 21st, so he’s able to provide some practical advice to other writers in the group. As mentioned, Anderson has worked for a number of magazines and newspapers and can also offer insight on getting published.
Rossland’s secret society is really not a secret — it’s listed as an ongoing event in the Rossland News community calendar — but Anderson said it feels like a secret since so few people seem to know about it. The group is always open to other writers’ seeking advice or feedback, or to other experienced writers with advice and feedback to give.
At the end of the evening every one wished each other happy holidays and agreed to meet again on Wednesday, Jan. 6 at 7 p.m.