A fire warmed the room. Author Arley McNeney sat at the front of the Princeton library snuggled in her chair reading excerpts from her latest creation to an intimate crowd of listeners. “The Time We All Went Marching” is McNeney’s newly released book and her stop in Princeton was no accident.
McNeney’s publicist had arranged her latest tour. She started in Cranbrook following along the route of the railway line calling the tour her Kettle Valley Tour. Her book winds along the railway across much of Canada with the main characters watching and reflecting as they travel to their new home on the west coast.
Head librarian Janis Winter was thrilled to host their first author reading in the new library and hopes it will be the first of many. Librarian Johanna Nott introduced McNeney listing off previous accomplishments by the talented author.
The Time We All Went Marching is McNeney’s second book. Post was McNeney’s first kick at the can. McNeney herself suffers from avascular necrosis a degenerative bone disease and has spent time wheelchair bound. Post explores the world of wheelchair basketball from the driver’s seat literally. McNeney is a member of the Canadian women’s wheelchair basketball team and won bronze at the Paralympics and in 2002 and 2006 was part of the winning gold medal world championship team. For her first book, McNeney was nominated for several awards.
This time around McNeney used her grandmother’s memoirs as a base for her story. She did not use direct quotes from her grandmother’s journals and made a conscious effort not to refer to them as she wrote, but rather let fiction lead the way. “My book is history and fiction together,” stated the author. “I purposely used a character very different from my grandmother, so I could avoid the restrictions of writing from her viewpoint.” References are made in McNeney’s most recent work to the Coalmont Hotel. McNeney’s story line follows the KVR along two story lines. The first takes place in 1935 and the second in 1946. The first time line follows character Edie through depression era work camps with her young son and alcoholic husband. The second time line follows Edie’s escape by train to a new life. McNeney read directly from her book about her character’s Coalmont Hotel visit. The locals enjoyed the read.
“This is the first, but not the last author visit for us,” said head community librarian Janis Winter. “Everyone there seemed to really enjoy the excerpts Arley read from her book and speaking with her afterwards in our informal setting. We had rather short notice about her pending visit and a small crowd, but as people get used to the idea that we will be bringing in authors whenever the opportunity arises, I think our crowds will grow.”
Winter, Notts and Sharon Dennis were all there to support the author and serve up some goodies for the reading. “We are really looking forward to more writer visits,” Winter concluded, “and more new books coming our way. This was fun. Arley was a great first writer to have and a great introduction to our author readings. I can’t wait to hear whose next.”
McNeney sold signed copies of her book before heading home to Vancouver. Princeton was her last stop on her tour, but she knows it will not be her last time in Princeton. “My dad loves the Coalmont Hotel and he owned it for a while. We have a connection here.”