Guest post by Toni Duval
Our book club met on a Friday evening in a lovely country home in Caledon. We planned to connect with Jesse Thistle, author of From the Ashes via Skype, a process that was simple in concept but proved to be a challenge! But we overcame it together. Seated around a large television screen, our author appeared in a hoodie surrounded by darkness. We learned he was on his way home from a spa day and was Skyping from his car while his wife, Lucie, drove them home.
We jumped right in with questions for Jesse, almost as if he was sitting in the living room with us. He answered personal questions about the editing process, his mentors, family members, current work and future projects. We were able to share some of our own personal connections to the book. He was gracious with our praise and admiration of his perseverance.
Jesse explained how the book began as a part of his steps towards sobriety and how the editors made choices about the material that became the final manuscript, choices he didn’t always agree with and shared a pivotal moment of his life with us. While he was living in Ottawa he begged on the streets for money to buy food. There was a man he saw often who finally introduced himself. He was a podiatrist and offered to get Jesse shoes that would help with his gait. Jesse would not accept the shoes, knowing he would sell them for drugs and wouldn’t allow himself to take advantage of the man’s kindness.
Overall, the experience of speaking directly to the author of a book that resonated with all of us was powerful. It is due to Jesse’s generosity with his time. We probably spoke to him twice as long as originally planned. His willingness to share his time and insights with us allowed us to experience a special evening beyond compare.
Toni Duval is a member of the Caledon Women’s Book Club.
Jesse Thistle’s memoir, From the Ashes, was published by Simon & Schuster Canada. He lives in Hamilton, ON, and is available to meet with book clubs via Skype and FaceTime. Learn more about Jesse.