BANF – Rosslyn Clark has always had a love for historical fiction.
But it wasn’t until she retired to Canmore about 15 years ago she began researching on the history of Banff between 1914 and 1920.
The research led to her first novel, If the World is Yours, which focuses on fictitious characters and key events in the time period for Banff.
While the majority of the characters are fictitious, she said they’re based on real people and events such as the Cave and Basin internment camp, the miner’s strike, the life of domestic servants, the First World War and the life of privileged people at the Banff Springs Hotel.
“I’ve always cherished the aspiration to write a novel with a connection to my beloved province, and my inspiration came on a snowy evening when I took shelter in the grande dame of the Canadian Rockies, the Banff Springs Hotel,” she said.
“The Gothic Revival architecture; the astounding view over the valley; the history of the two worlds meeting: servants and guests; British and backcountry. I wandered the great halls of that magnificent building and, in a fortunate stroke of serendipity, came upon my characters frozen in time.”
Clark said the book took about 18 months to write, followed by seven years of tweaking prior to publication.
During the year-and-a-half writing period, she would write about an hour to two a day and spent a significant time researching.
She also received permission from the Banff Springs Hotel to use a vintage photograph from the time period for the cover.
Clark grew up surrounded by the glens of Scotland and emigrated in Alberta in 1980. She worked for an oil company in Fort McMurray as an office administrator and volunteered at a quarterly newspaper.
She moved to Canmore in the mid-2000s after one of her three daughters highlighted her love of Banff and the mountains.
The book saw her visit numerous local museums and libraries to get a full understanding and appreciation of what the popular mountain town was like more than a century ago.
For readers of the book, Clark said she hopes they get a sense of connection to the era, Banff and the characters in the town.
“It goes up another level when you get a connection to a place you visit even if it’s a short time,” she said.
"When you have a book, and then you read about a fictitious person or a real person, and then you're going to the museum or certain locations, it’s 10 times better because now you're connecting with those places right away.”
Clark said the book – which was published earlier this summer – is available online for purchase in Canada, the United States, New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom.