Local authors join forces for library event

Local authors, from left, Judy Millar and Pat Smekal will be doing book launches in two local libraries next week. - Lissa Alexander Photo
Local authors, from left, Judy Millar and Pat Smekal will be doing book launches in two local libraries next week.
— image credit: Lissa Alexander Photo

Head to local libraries for some short, quirky, humorous stories as well as some inspiring poetry as two local authors share their newest accomplishments.

Humour writer Judy Millar is launching her short story collection for adults Beaver Bluff: The Librarian Stories and Pat Smekal will join her to read from her new book of poetry, Small Corners at the Parksville Library Jan. 8 and in Qualicum Beach on Jan. 10.

Millar has been writing throughout her life, although it was of a more serious nature when she worked in the communications field in Ontario. She then decided to get into “the fun kind of writing” creating a number of children’s albums and joining her brother entertaining youngsters, including playing the role of a puppeteer.

After moving to Vancouver Island she started writing humour and when she got a very positive response from her writing group, she decided to keep at the endeavour.

“I started to write goofy stories about librarians,” said Millar, whose very first job was shelving books in a library. “I got a collection of these stories together and thought, I should group them in some location.”

Millar won the John Kenneth Galbraith Literary Award in 2009 and the Kerry Schooley Memorial Award in 2011. She is a two-time finalist in the Writers’ Union of Canada Short Prose Competitions and a frequent spoken-word performer.

Smekal was trained as a teacher before she headed off on a long, worldwide adventure.  She traveled and worked around Europe and then returned home to Vancouver and got married 52 years ago. She and her husband then headed for Australia where they lived for 29 years, raising kids and running a business.

When they moved to the area, Smekal worked at the local hospice society and wrote a couple short books related to managing grief. Combined, the two books sold about 25,000 copies.

Other writing Smekal has done has been published in Canadian journals, magazines and anthologies and she has received a number of awards for her poetry.But how she began writing poetry came as a surprise to her, she said.

“I was thinking I would write a memoir, and somehow I started writing poetry,” she said.

While looking through some of her memorabilia collected over the years, Smekal began to think of the people connected to them.

Many people have made an impression on her over the years including her parents and grandmother, she said, but some who have touched her life were in it for a very short time.

Smekal and Millar teamed up to do a dual book launch not only because they have become friends through a writing group but because together their work is a good balance of humour and light writing as well as thought-provoking prose, said Millar.

Join the authors at the Parksville Library, Tuesday, Jan. 8, from 2 to 3 p.m. and at Qualicum Beach Library, Thursday, Jan. 10, from 2 to 3 p.m.


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