Suzanne and Bernard Brooks have owned and managed Gulliver's Books and Toys here in North Bay for over 20 years. Their shop was the model for "Lilliput's" in FBorFW: the shop Elly Patterson worked in and eventually owned (you can read the Lilliput's strips here - more than 100 in all!). It was thanks to Suzanne that I was able to depict bookstore ownership with a modicum of truth and believability. I recently had lunch with her. She was really depressed. Suzanne and Bernard want to retire but it's difficult to find someone who will take on an independent book store these days. You have to love literature; love to read- and be willing to work long, hard hours to support your addiction! If they can't find a new owner soon, they will have to close the store.
Over the years, Suzanne and Bernard have supported and encouraged local authors by helping them with their work, selling their books, hosting signings (with refreshments) and making sure that everyone knew that a new novel, art book or photo journal was available. They have organized events to bring folks back into the downtown. "Books By the Bay" has been an exciting, well-attended annual summer weekend gathering of authors, readers and others who enjoy learning from speakers and performers- all instigated by these two incredible people. Suzanne has brought recognition to book stores everywhere with "Independents Day"- a celebration of all the independent book stores in Canada and beyond. The list goes on and on.
I felt something had to be done to give my dear friends a shot in the arm- so I suggested we throw a party! Since Suzanne had the mailing list for all the local authors, I couldn't make it a surprise party- (but surprises always happen anyway.) She brightened and agreed. Katie and I got together with Martha Attema and Donna Sinclair- two other local authors who were willing to dig in and make it happen. After a couple of meetings we had it arranged. Kate took a sketch of mine and turned it into invitations, tickets and a banner 6 feet long.
Replies to invitations are coming in and our soiree will happen on the 22nd of this month at Cecil's- a great pub and party place. Already, we know the evening will be a success. We know because this community cares. We know how fortunate we are to have had Gulliver's as a resource a destination and a landmark. If Gulliver's closes, we will all lose something rare and wonderful. A party is definitely in order.
So, to all the authors out there, lucky enough to have an independent book store close by, appreciate what you have. Tell the owners how much they mean to you....and raise a glass in their honour. Oh, and one other thing....don't forget to invite them along!