Sooke is once again on the literary radar.
Three local authors – Sheila Thomas, Jim Bottomley and David Reichheld – were long-listed in this summer’s Federation of B.C. Writers 2018 Short Story contest, which attracted writers from B.C. and around the world and earned Reichheld an honorable mention for his story Let Morning Bring Me.
“I’m proud three authors from Sooke Writers’ Collective made the list,” Reichheld said. “It highlights our model of encouraging developing writers.”
A graduate of the University of Victoria’s creative writing program, Reichheld only lately returned to fiction writing and credits the local writers’ group for his success, including a third-place finish in the 2017 Islands Short Fiction Contest for his story, Sombrio Beach.
“Contest prizes make useful targets, but realistically, writing has to be a reward for your soul because contest judges will rarely see eye-to-eye with you,” said Reichheld. “The Sooke Writers’ Collective helps you develop skills to write well, period.”
The Collective publishes a yearly literary anthology and Reichheld’s stories have appeared in four.
Why did Let Morning Bring Me resonate with judges this summer?
“The story explores a universal human time when our past finally defines us – whether everything we cherished vanishes with us, or lives on to enrich our children,” said Reichheld.
He rewrote the story a dozen times, crediting his writing buddy, author Nancy Davies, with transforming early drafts into readable material. Then he asked a larger panel of the Collective’s members to do a “feedback session” offering further comment.
“The process is amazingly helpful. We often hold feedback sessions in A&W over burgers and fries; your story gets a high-calorie polish,” Reichheld explained.
The group’s author-building activities also include hosting Outdoor Writers’ Retreats and Writers’ Walks in regional parks.
A Sooke resident for more than 25 years, Reichheld and his wife Nancy often trek the beaches and high Sooke Hills featured in his stories. He plans a historical novel set in ghostly Leechtown after its rip-roaring glory days as a goldrush hub.
“Coming from Calgary I still marvel at the Island’s giant forests and tumultuous beaches. This place is chock-full of magical themes demanding great storytelling. Sooke Writers’ Collective has the talented people to do it,” Reichheld said.
The Collective’s latest Anthology Sooke All Sorts is sold at the Sooke Region Museum, Artisan’s Garden, Barking Dog Studio and Well Read Books. Or go online to www.sookewriters.com.