One of the best things about writing is the new things we authors learn. Whether those are about our history, our world or our neighbours or new writing techniques, they all open our minds and make our lives richer.
My latest book, The Man Behind the Marathons,took over two years to write and those two years saw their share of struggles. I spent many joyful hours interviewing the book’s subject, Ron Calhoun. He told me the inside story of his life, actually, and I learned a lot. Almost all of it was prime detail to go into the book but some of it I chose to leave out.
That was a learning experience, too. As an author who definitely wants to sell books, I had to balance the shock value of one or two things against who I am as a person and how far I was willing to go in revealing Ron Calhoun’s life. Not that Ron has dark skeletons in his closet but some things are private and just for the family.
I decided to take the high road and write a book I could be proud of and that Ron Calhoun, too, could enjoy fully. It was almost as if my mother’s spirit sat by my side and guided me to choosing this path for her great friend’s life story. After all, this exceptional volunteer who has definitely made his mark has spent his life helping others. He deserves to be known and Canada, his country of birth and his home for life, should celebrate him.
Over that lifetime Ron has received dozens of awards, so many that I chose to break with tradition in the creative non-fiction book and list many of his accolades. He has an honorary degree from Western University, an honorary life membership in the Canadian Cancer Society, and was the first to receive the Ronald G. Calhoun Science Ambassador Award. He is also a proud recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and many other awards listed in the Appendix of The Man Behind the Marathons.
I also delighted in the many interviews I did for this book and in meeting some of the amazing followers Ron has accumulated over his life as a volunteer. Ron’s daughters, Lynn and Lori, and two of his grandchildren, Joe and Jennifer, all came to sit in my dining room and tell me revealing stories of their father/grandfather. They painted him in bright colours with many facets to his life and these I used in the book. One of the funniest stories was their telling of Ron’s love for stopping along the roadside at garage sales–anywhere that he could get a bargain. They had to limit his ‘sale’ time on these trips!
John Davidson of Jesse’s Journey and Jesse’s Journey: A Father’s Tribute was an absolute delight to meet. He sat in my dining room and told his story of love and despair and of his family rising up to meet the challenges presented by Jesse’s disease. I was enthralled. And I also laughed to find out that John and I attended the same high school in grade nine although we never met. Small world.
My journey to the end of writing this book never ends as I keep finding new people to tell about Ron Calhoun and new ways to spread the word about this amazing volunteer. I chose to put a number of the lovely comments people have shared after reading this book on the left side of every page of this site. Yes, I’m trying to encourage Canadians especially but also good people all over the world to learn about this tireless and extremely effective volunteer. And when you do read The Man Behind the Marathons, please do your part to spread Ron’s story and help make ours a better world.
Consider writing your own review on Amazon and Goodreads. Ron’s book deserves it!