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In Focus | Elma Schemenauer of Interior Authors Group

In Focus is our gift to the community. A way for us to help show our recognition for the people, businesses and organizations that help make our city great. The team at is passionate about this community and the people that make it amazing. We want to show our friends, neighbours, family and colleagues that we notice them and the fabulous things that they do.

What is your name?
Elma Schemenauer

What do you always find yourself saying?
"You know." I'd like to get through a whole day without, you know, saying those words.

If you could spend one whole day with anyone in the world who is currently alive, who would you select and why?
A mystery friend I met through an online writers group. I know her name but not her address, and I've never seen a picture of her. I respect her desire for privacy. On the other hand, I'd love to meet her after all the years we've spent critiquing each other's writing by e-mail.

If you were to receive any existing public award, what award would you like to win?
The Scotiabank Giller Prize.

If you could spend a day with any historical figure, who would you choose and why?
Jesus Christ. I'm a big fan of his.

Who inspires you?
Dennis Robertson, a member of our Interior Authors Group. He's unfailingly cheerful and kind despite health challenges including hearing loss and ongoing painful treatments for cancer. Dennis often reads his witty ditties aloud at our meetings and they always make us laugh.

What are three things on your bucket list?
-Finish writing my second novel for adults. The first one, Consider the Sunflowers, was recently published by Borealis Press of Ottawa and I loved that experience.
-Spend a few days mooching around Mennonite museums with my two sisters. Like me, they're fascinated with our Mennonite heritage, faith, and history.
-Spend a month in Toronto, where I enjoyed working in publishing for many years before moving to Kamloops.

If you had an enormous yacht, what would you name it?
Nil Desperandum (Latin for Never Despair).

If you could foresee a single day of your future in its entirety, what date would you select?

June 17, 2019, which would be five years from the day I finished chemotherapy for cancer. Lots of people in Kamloops know about my cancer journey. I'm grateful for their concern and prayers.

What are you passionate about?
Christian faith. Writing. Interacting with other authors and helping them wherever I can.

What has been your favourite day of your life, up to this point?
The day I married my wonderful husband.

What has been your proudest accomplishment?
Having my 1940s-era novel Consider the Sunflowers published by Borealis Press of Ottawa last October. I've had many other books published, but this one is special. It's my first novel for adults. I poured a lot of my Mennonite heritage, love of history, and Saskatchewan background into it. The story also draws on some romantic adventures and misadventures, fictionalized of course.

Where is your favourite place to dine in Kamloops? What do you like about it?
The Brownstone for fine dining. I like the historic setting, personable staff, and good food, especially the fish, vegetables, and cheesecake. For more casual dining, I like Duffy's Pub, particularly the outdoor patio.

What is your favourite activity or event in Kamloops? Why?
I love walking in this city's many natural areas, enjoying the grassland, forest, and ravines. It's good exercise, especially in South Kamloops, where you can hardly step outdoors without going uphill or downhill. It's interesting to see the views change with the seasons and to meet nice dogs with their owners.

Some of the books written and edited by Interior Authors Group.

What is the name of your business/organization?

Interior Authors Group.

What does your business/organization do?
We’re people who love to write in all styles, forms, and genres. We’re those folks you see in the corners of coffee shops diving for their bags to find pens and scratch out a few sentences on a napkin, because to lose that oh so great wording that’s running through the brain would be a tragedy.

We meet monthly to support each other, and to learn and grow in the craft of writing. Many monthly meetings feature a workshop presented by one of our own members. Sometimes guest speakers come and knock our socks off. Meetings also provide opportunities to read and discuss our work for feedback. It’s such a boost talking about our current projects with fellow writers.

We’re poets, we’re songwriters, we’re bloggers, we’re screenplay creators, we’re literary authors, romance authors, mystery authors, non-fiction authors, journalists, and every other genre and sub-genre you can come up with. We’re veteran authors, debut authors, and a whole bunch of people who aspire to get that first book into print.

So if you want to learn more about the craft of writing, or about publishing and self-publishing, or if you want to rub shoulders with veteran authors who’ve made careers out of their skills, or even if you just want to improve your storytelling, come check us out.

Meetings are the second Thursday of every month except July and August, 6:30 pm at Chartwell Ridgepointe (Pineview), 1789 Primrose Court, Kamloops, BC, V1S 0B7.

The IAG has published three print anthologies – Collected Works, Blue River Dark Waters, and Away From Home. All are for sale at bookstores around Kamloops and through members of our group. We also have a table at the Sahali Farmers Market. We hope to release these works in e-book format soon.

Where can people find you or your business online?
Consider the Sunflowers

Elma's Almanac

Where can people find your business on Facebook?
Interior Authors Group

Consider the Sunflowers

What is your Twitter account?

Members Sandra Hyslop and Dennis Robertson at Farmers Market.

What is your mission?
To bring together those persons interested in the art of writing and all its ancillary functions, including editing, design, illustrating, publishing, and promoting.

If you could achieve one thing within your field, what would it be?
Put Kamloops on the map as a centre for literary activity and excellence.

Where do you want your business/organization to be in five years?
-Hopefully we'll have more members.
-Maybe we could develop more peer-to-peer critiquing groups within the IAG. I think we currently have only one.
-I'd like the IAG to build a stronger connection with Thompson Rivers University.
-It would be great to see short quotations from our members' works displayed in public, perhaps in city buses and on fast-food containers.
-Maybe we could produce a Kamloops-grown winner of the Man Booker International Prize. Just kidding, sort of.

Who do you consider to be a forerunner within your field?
As a local writers association, we have had several forerunners. In 2004, Corey Sigvaldson and associates established The Authors Club in Kamloops. When this group ceased to exist in 2006, Ted Joslin, Tricia Saxby, Emily Robertson, and Brenda Oig established a new writers organization. With Oig as president, its name became Interior Authors Group. Oig resigned in 2008 and Ted Joslin was elected president. He remained in that role until 2010. Joslin was succeeded as president by Dana Ramstedt and then Donna Ebl. Our current president, Fern Hinse, was elected in 2014.

What three qualities do you feel that your business/organization exemplifies?
-Instruction. Our meetings feature informative and inspiring workshops, many of them presented by our own members.
-Feedback. We provide opportunities for members to share their writing and receive constructive comments from others.
-Encouragement. We cheer each other on and rejoice in each other's successes. The anthologies we publish provide opportunities for members to gain a readership for their writing.

What would you like to say to your employees/volunteers?
Work hard. Keep smiling. Polish your computer skills. Develop an online presence. Review other members' books for newspapers and magazines. Pursue any reasonable writing opportunity that presents itself; you never know where it might lead.

How does your business/organization impact the community?
-Our members participate in community events such as public markets and Canada Day celebrations.
-Our writing often reflects Kamloops and area, celebrating it, augmenting people's understanding of it, and increasing its reputation.
-We do readings in libraries.
-We're a valuable source of information for local people interested in writing and related activities.
-We also interact meaningfully with writers and would-be writers in other communities. For example, a couple of our members will play key roles in the FBCW (Federation of BC Writers) Annual General Meeting to be held in Penticton in May.

If you were trapped in an elevator with several wealthy investors from any field, which field would you want them to be experts in? What would say to them/talk about?
I'd want them to be publishers. I'd tell them about my next novel and suggest they offer me a contract including a generous advance.

If I could change one thing about Kamloops, it would be:
I'd like to see city and provincial governments focus more on preserving and promoting the features that make Kamloops great (see next question).

IAG treasurer Janet Miller with Erin McMullan at meeting.

What do you think makes Kamloops great?
-Lots of sunshine.
-Unique topography and bracing beauty of our semi-desert environment.
-Recreational opportunities galore.
-Varied economic opportunities.
-University that attracts students from more than 85 countries.
-Vibrant funky downtown.
-Lively arts scene.
-Friendly, caring people.
-Convenient size. Kamloops offers most services, and they're more accessible than in a bigger or less well planned city.

My choice for the Kamloops In Focus spotlight is:

Dr. Jill Calder. She has been the Director of Rehabilitation Services at Royal Inland Hospital (Kamloops) since 1991 and practices full-time in Physical Medicine and related fields. Her interest in Environmental Medicine evolved with her practice as a physician and patient advocate. Dr. Calder and her physician husband have raised three children in Kamloops, and they have been very involved in multiple community activities in the education system, sports, the arts, and music.

Some general comments I would like to share are:
I grew up in a Dutch-German Mennonite family in "the land of the big blue sky," near the prairie village of Elbow, Saskatchewan. My parents, Peter and Agatha Martens, had come from Russia in the 1920s with their parents and siblings. They loved telling stories about the Old Country, and about immigration and their new life in Canada. My father was an especially good storyteller, acting out the roles of all the characters including animals, complete with sound effects.

My family's rich storytelling tradition helped inspire my ambition to become a full-time writer and/or work in publishing. However, I didn't know how to do this. My background didn't provide me with many role models, so I became a teacher instead. After teaching for several years, I did a daring thing. I moved to Toronto, hoping to land a job in one of the city's many publishing companies.

After a scary time during which I had no job and no income, I found a low-level position with a magazine. That job gave me a connection that led to being hired as a rookie editor in an educational publishing house. I enjoyed learning to edit and was delighted to discover that the position also involved quite a bit of writing. One of the first things I wrote on the job was an article about koala bears.

During my years with the publishing house, I also wrote stories on my own time and tried to get them published. The first one to see the light of day was a picture book, Newton McTootin and the Bang Bang Tree. It was published by Magook, a division of McClelland & Stewart.

Later I wrote many other books, mostly as a freelancer after leaving the educational publishing house. Among titles are Yesterstories, Hello Vancouver, Salmon, Uganda, and Native Canadians Today and Long Ago.

I loved writing every one of those books. In the meantime, I started planning a novel based on my Saskatchewan Mennonite roots. It took years to get underway and more years to finish, but Consider the Sunflowers finally became a reality last October.

We encourage you to leave your comments and words of support below, and submit your own nomination by clicking HERE. You are also welcome to submit a form of your own by clicking HERE. Thank you, Kamloops!