Sid Bell sits at his dining room table, surrounded by stacks of books in hardcover and paperback, bookmarks and a glossy poster, all evidence of the work he began in 1982.
Home on the Big Salmon is Bell’s first book, and while it’s been a long journey since he began writing the story almost 30 years ago, he said nothing beats the thrill of seeing his book in published form.
“(My wife) Darlene’s dad lived in the Yukon and every summer he took a job on a lake camp and we used to go and visit often and spent time on Big Salmon River and so it just appealed to me.”
But the story is all fiction, said Bell, who began writing the book before the advent of the Internet, so he couldn’t rely on the Web for online research.
“I was going to publish it after I wrote it, but things were very different then. I approached a publisher in Edmonton, but at 90 pages, she said it was too short.
“So I went back to the drawing board and the original book is now part two, and part one is the newest section.”
Home on the Big Salmon follows a young man’s life as he starts over after the end of the Second World War. It was October 1945. The war was over and the boys were coming home. Bob Walker was one of those boys. He had signed up a few days after the bombing of Pearl Harbour and from then on, he changed from the carefree individual that he once was. His youth was gone, lost somewhere along the way as he struggled to stay alive during the war.
“When I was first turned down for publication, I put it on the shelf for awhile until I retired.”
Sid worked as a diesel electric locomotive engineer for B.C. Rail for 30 years, spending long periods of time on the road, with little free time for writing.
He retired in 2004, and last year, he and Darlene moved to Vernon from Williams Lake. It was time to pick up the pen again.
“I write longhand — my computer skills aren’t that good,” he said, laughing. “Writing is something I’ve always wanted to do and in high school, essays were what got me through.”
Darlene Bell acts as her husband’s publicist, secretary and computer technician.
“He’s always had the gift of gab,” she said. “He wrote, and I typed it up on the computer.”
When it was time to look for a publisher, Sid and Darlene went online, and decided on Xlibris, a publishing company based in Bloomington, Indiana that gives authors control over their work.
“They have been really good to deal with,” said Darlene. “It was a little daunting to begin with, but they walked us through it. The great thing is that they do most of the marketing.”
Sid and Darlene looked at the packages available and selected one to suit their needs.
“Nothing is done without your approval — even the press releases they send out, they write up and send back to you and make sure it’s OK,” said Sid. “I told them what I wanted on the cover — a cabin on the shore, a dock out front, a few fishing boats, and I was very happy to see the cover when it came out and very impressed with what they did,” said Sid.
Meanwhile, the author is about 3/4 of the way through his next book, which he said will be of a more spiritual nature.
“I read a lot — a variety of things, mostly commentary and history and how it’s tied in with the Bible’s teachings.”
Home on the Big Salmon is available online at Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com or Xlibris.com or by asking local bookstores to order it. The book can also be ordered by calling 1-888-795-4274, extension 7879.