Gail Kreutzer holds a copy of her book at the Lakeview Inn in Gimli Feb. 8. (Juliet Kadzviti/The Interlake Spectator/Postmedia Network)
What started off as a chance correspondents with one of her favourite authors, turned into a captivating non-fiction novel for one Gimli woman.
Evergreen School Division teacher Gail Kreutzer, and Elspeth Cameron, well-known Canadian historical biographer recently published the book, A Tale of Two Divas: The Curious Adventures of Jean Forsyth and Edith J. Miller in Canada’s Edwardian West. The book chronicles the life of two Canadian singers, their philanthropic activity and for one, her famous performance for the King of England.
“In my lifetime, I never thought I would be part of a published book, never mind doing a book with Elspeth. I’ve been a great admirer of her writing for many years,” Kreutzer said to the Interlake Spectator, Feb. 8.
Her journey started when she read Cameron’s book Aunt Winnie. In the book, she read a section that featured Forsyth, stating she could have been the founder of the Winnipeg Human Society in 1893. Kreutzer, who had spend many years working with the organization, even serving on its board, was impressed by Forsyth and wanted to learn more about her.
“So I started doing some digging, and the more I dug, the more I found on Forsyth,” she said.
She wrote an email to Cameron, asking her to write a book about Forsyth, to which Cameron was initially hesitant.
Kreutzer researched about Forsyth anyway, amassing heaps of information on the little-known singer, then sending it to Kruetzer.
Cameron slowly made her way to reading the material and was hooked.
“She had said she was not planning to do anymore book writing, but she was prepared to do this project,” Kruetzer explained.
The pair spent months corresponding via email, with Kreutzer doing the research and Cameron piecing together a cohesive narrative.
“It was one of these things, that once I got into it, I was so fascinated by it. I was just so obsessed with it and I couldn’t quit researching,” she said.
The two later added the story of Miller into the book, after finding just as much on her, as they did on Forsyth.
Cameron and Kreutzer met for the first time in 2015, after years of sharing their correspondents.
“It’s been three solid years of work for me doing research on this, but I have to say, I loved every minute of it,” Kruetzer said.
She said the story was special, because it was an accidental discovery.
“Nobody would have ever thought about doing this story, because you would never think to dig up all of these connections, but their story really deserves to be told and it would have never been told otherwise. They lived quite a fascinating life,” she said.
In the book’s acknowledgements, Cameron thanks Kreutzer for bringing the book to fruition.
“This book owes its existence to Gail Kreutzer,” it read, adding they remained friends after the book’s publication.
For Kreutzer, the entire experience was rewarding.
“To finally get the hard copy and to see it, it’s indescribable, I am just thrilled that I can see all my hardwork come to fruition,” she said.
The novel is available for purchase online at Amazon, Chapters and other retailers.