Change - The Face Of Time is the third historical fiction book written by Chemainus’ Robyn Gerland. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Author’s latest book utilizes Bowen Island as the catalyst for time changes

Historical fiction work receives strong endorsement for powerful storytelling

Chemainus author Robyn Gerland conducted readings from her book Change – The Face Of Time to enthusiastic response Thursday at the Chemainus library to kick off its spring author series.

“I read one chapter from each section, read the introduction for the whole book and I picked out three sections I particularly liked,” she explained of the session.

Gerland was encouraged to see the turnout for the reading and not just the same faces. “There were a lot and they were all new,” she enthused.

Change – The Face Of Time is the third book written by Gerland that she describes as historical fiction. Previous releases All These Long Years Later and Hand-Me-Downs are both now out of print.

Writers often have a certain affinity for their own work and Gerland is no exception.

“This is my favourite,” she said. “It’s a really nice balance of the fiction and the history – at least I think so.

“The second one was definitely the most serious, but the first one was the lightest and this one is a nice mix.”

Gerland picked a setting that was well-known to her. “I started the book on our way to Bowen Island for a couple of days,” she explained.

“The book is about Bowen Island, but Bowen Island is simply the catalyst to show time changes.”

Gerland especially enjoys the historical context of her writings and made contact with the Chamber of Commerce and historical society there as part of the preparatory work.

“The research is as much fun as the writing,” she conceded.

“This is a story of time and it is the story of a small island, Bowen, and how the two met and how time played with it – shaped it and re-shaped it,” reads the preface to the book. “But it is mostly the story of Change because Change is truly the only way that we are able to see The Face of Time.”

In her author’s note, Gerland added, “The Void of Time is written in recognition of those who came before us and is in no way an attempt to usurp the culture or the history of indigenous people – it is a tribute to and an acknowledgement of those who came first.”

Gerland consulted with Joey Caro. a longtime chairman of the Penelakut Tribe Elders Committee and communications manager for the Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group, for feedback.

“I sent Joey the first section and he really liked it,” Gerland indicated. “He thought people should be aware of this stuff.”

Part of Caro’s assessment printed in the book reads as follows: “This is a delightful read. In the first section, the story of a young man’s journey to becoming a Salish canoe maker is both sensitive and insightful.

“I was afraid after reading so many dry local community histories that I was in for a long haul. Much to my surprise things turned out just the opposite. I was sad when I was done reading it – I wanted to read some more.”

Caro added the book should be shared with local schools and libraries and believed the good people of Bowen Island are going to be proud to have this account of their island history in circulation.

Caro’s commentary has become rather bittersweet for Gerland after he passed away in recent months.

A unique part of Gerland’s book is the incorporation of a mystery that she doesn’t want to say too much about without giving it away.

“It’s there,” she noted. “You have to really read carefully. You really have to think when you read.”

Gerland already has another book completed, Caught In The Current, but she expects it’ll be a year before release. She likes to write a book, leave it and then return to it in the fine-tuning and editing process before considering it ready for print.

Change – The Face of Time is available locally at Rainforest Arts in downtown Chemainus, the Gallery at Chemainus Theatre Festival and through Chapters books.

With all of her other writings, Gerland is also still a frequent contributor to Chicken Soup For the Soul.

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