Our guest speaker this month was author Cheryl Cooper who talked about her writing background and some of the fascinating information she has uncovered while researching her books in a presentation titled: “1812: The Age of Sail”. Cheryl, who was born in Toronto and now lives in Bracebridge, said that she was drawn to writing as early as Grade 4 and at age 11 was encouraged by a teacher who printed a novella Cheryl had written and made it available in the school library. She maintained her interest in writing through high school and at Queen’s University. Her budding career suffered a setback when, at age 27, she wrote a novel titled “Blueberry Hill” and submitted it to a library writer in residence. But rather than the anticipated praise, the critic told her that her story was truly terrible. After recovering from that putdown, she was determined to improve her writing skills. While reading other authors, she became fascinated with stories of the English navy as described in the historical novel Master and Commander by author Patrick O’Brian. Although Cheryl had never sailed and had no previous interest in the sea, she was captivated and narrowed in on the War of 1812 because it involved Canada and the United States. She read even more and travelled to sites such as Charleston and San Diego in her bid to become familiar with the times. She pointed out that research is on-going and she puts in four years of research for each book. Her first effort in this series, “Come Looking for Me” was followed in 2014 by “Second Summer of War” and the third novel, in the Seasons of War series, is called “Run Red with Blood” and was just released in October. Cheryl shared some insights about the War of 1812 calling it United States’ final break with its colonial rulers which, at the same time set Canada on the road to confederation. She also tested her audience on the source of a number of modern day sayings that got their beginnings in the early days of sail. Jim Stangier thanked Cheryl for her presentation.
Our November meeting will include a brief ceremony marking Remembrance Day and our guest speaker will be Kathleen Powell from the St. Catharines Museum speaking about Vimy Ridge and the Boer War