Happy New Year, dear readers and writers. Jayme Moye, Nelson Lit founder here. I first envisioned bringing mountain literature writers to Nelson for book talks when I began attending the Banff Mountain Film and Book Fest in 2017. Each year at the festival, I’d meet notable adventure writers who were keen to talk books and visit mountain towns. I quickly realized that the mountains are not only the most challenging, awe-inspiring landscapes on earth, but also the most creative. Add the interplay of mountains and water, like we have in Nelson, and what writer wouldn’t want to spend time here? I found myself repeatedly wistful: If only we had someone to coordinate book-talk events here in town.
In 2018, when I began reviewing new books in the adventure and exploration genre for Outside magazine as a freelance-writing gig, my wistfulness intensified. I fantasized about writers like Kate Harris—who wrote the award-winning, soul-quenching Lands of Lost Borders (Penguin Random House, 2018)—including Nelson on their book tours. Why not? Nelson is an ideal stop-over between Vancouver and Calgary. We have one of the greatest ski resorts in North America; a vibrant arts community; a local, independent book store; and a world-class mountain sports and culture magazine. We even have our own writing festival.
Later that year, I felt encouraged when I volunteered to help organize a book talk in Nelson for Squamish resident and climber Jan Redford to present her debut memoir End of the Rope: Mountains, Marriage, and Motherhood. The talk was part of a larger event put on by TAWKROC, the Association of West Kootenay Rock Climbers, but still, Nelson residents came out in droves, packing the Civic Theatre for Jan’s talk. I realized I wasn’t the only one hungry for mountain literature. I began to think, maybe I could be the person to bring these types of talks to the community.
Nelson Lit was officially born on October 31, 2019 at the Banff Mountain Film and Book Fest, when I shared the idea with Sharon Wood, who, in 1986, became the first woman from North American to summit Everest. She was the keynote speaker that evening, discussing her debut memoir Rising: Becoming the First Canadian Woman to Summit Everest (Douglas and McIntyre, 2019). In addition to her career as a mountain guide, Sharon is also a professional motivational speaker. She agreed that writers in our genre would be delighted to visit Nelson to give book talks. In fact, she promised that if I started Nelson Lit, she’d be my first. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse. We set a date of February 20, 2020, to coincide with a winter hut trip she’d planned in the area.
Which brings us to today, and the launch of the Nelson Lit website—which I guess makes it official. I have big plans for my little idea to bring mountain sports and culture writers to speak in Nelson. I hope you’ll join me at the Prestige Lakeside Hotel on Thursday, February 20, 2020 at 7:00 pm, to welcome Sharon Wood.