Three western authors shared aviation stories from different perspectives from the Second World War at Red Deer College on Friday.
The afternoon reading, War Birds featured authors Anne Gafiuk, Elinor Florence and Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail who all write about the Second World War era.
It was the first time in recent memory that RDC featured three authors at one reading. Because of the similar themes in the novels and timing of Remembrance Day, RDC thought it would make for an interesting afternoon for history and aviation buffs.
The authors, who know one other through mutual friends, will make separate appearances around western Canada in the coming months.
Gafiuk’s novel Wings Over High River chronicles the life of veteran pilot and instructor Gordon Jones, who recently died at the age of 90. Jones from High River flew a Tiger Moth 1214 during the war. The story came to life after Gafiuks attended an air show for research on her planned novel about a school teacher and a pilot. But after meeting the then 88-year-old, the Calgary-based author’s book turned into a biography of Jones.
In Birds Eye View: A Wartime Novel Florence, a former journalist and Red Deer Advocate editor, writes a fictional wartime drama about a prairie woman whose town in Saskatchewan becomes an air training base during the war. The woman joins the air force and becomes an interpreter of aerial photographs.
Florence said she has been working on her novel on and off for years but it was only until 2010 when she pulled it out that she realized it was time to publish it.
“I looked at it and at one point it made me cry so I thought it must be something if it can touch me after all these years,” said Florence.
After the war, Florence’s father who served in the RCAF bought one of the abandoned airfields near North Battleford, Sask.
One of the barracks buildings was cut in half and eventually became their family home. Florence said she came from a family that loves to tell stories and she has always had an interest in wartime history.
Edmonton author Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail devotes a chapter in her novel Polar Winds: A Century of Flying the North to the Second World War. She delves into the role of aviation in north of the 60th parallel during the war. Metcalfe-Chenail is Edmonton’s official historian laureate.
For more information about the novels and appearances, contact Florence at www.elinorflorence.com, Gafiuk at www.whatsinastory.ca and Metcalfe-Chenail at www.daniellemc.com