Billed as Wild By Nature, it’s no surprise that Sooke conjures up scenic images of snow-capped mountains, flowing streams, glistening oceans, and boot-travelled hiking trails.
But there’s another side to this picturesque town on the shores of the Strait of Juan de Fuca that might comes as a surprise.
With a half-dozen well-known authors among its residents and a social scene revolving around local coffee shops and the Sooke Writers’ Collective, Sooke could be Greater Victoria’s best kept literary secret.
“The area attracts a lot of artists and creative people from all genres,” said Doni Eve of the Sooke Writers’ Collective.
“We just have such beautiful and inspiring geography, whether its mountains or oceans. It’s just a great place to be a really good source of creativity.”
Local writer Sheila Thomas agrees.
“Sooke is just full of creative people,” she said. “The Sooke Fine Arts Show is a fine example of the bursting talents that live here.”
Among the well-known writers who call Sooke home:
Darrel J. McLeod is a Cree from treaty eight territory in northern Alberta. Before deciding to pursue writing in his retirement, he was a chief negotiator of land claims for the federal government and executive director of education and international affairs with the Assembly of First Nations. McLeod won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction last year for his first book Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age. He’s working on a second memoir following the events in Mamaskatch.
Wendy Morton has lived in Otter Point for more than 45 years. Morton is a nationally-recognized poet who has made an outstanding impact on Indigenous communities. She also started the Random Acts of Poetry movement which encourages poets across Canada to read poems to strangers and give them books. In 2017, she was appointed to the Order of B.C., and has also received the Meritorious Service Medal from the Governor General of Canada for her projects which have brought honour to Canada.
Angela Dorsey has lived in a number of small towns throughout B.C. She’s written professionally for more than 20 years. Dorsey has written 34 juvenile novels, many of them printed in numerous languages by different publishers around the world. In addition to authoring novels, she also writes screenplays, short stories and poetry. She’s working on a collection of new and previously published works, Upon Our Shores.
Jim Bottomley was a runner-up for the nationally-prized Arthur Ellis Award for mystery writing this year for his unpublished manuscript Hypnotizing Lions. Bottomley’s life is as varied as his writing. He runs his own consulting business as a futurist, but he also considers himself a lyricist and enjoys collaborating with other musicians to co-write songs. Hypnotizing Lions is expected to be published within the next year.
Joké Mayers was born and raised in Nigeria, and while her career has spanned many fields, her love of writing has remained constant. Mayers has authored and produced many literary and artistic creations including poetry, biographies, cookbooks and paintings. She is working on a collection of short stories and other books. Mayer is the editor and publisher of the J. Mayers Group, a writing, editing, and book publishing service.
Sheila Thomas describes herself as an emerging short-story writer, and was recently a finalist in the Federation of B.C. Writers Short Fiction Contest. Thomas is also an accomplished poet and playwright. She studied acting in Los Angeles and attended Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke, Que. to learn play writing. She’s working on a play about artist Emily Carr, and plans to travel next year in a refurbished school bus living the life of Carr.