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Local author a late bloomer

“It’s an outlet for me to work with my own sense of humour,” said 81-year-old Canmore based author Richard R. Wyly Sr. “Then put it out there and hope someone will get a giggle out of it. That’s what it’s really all about.”

CANMORE – For Canmore author Richard R. Wyly Sr., the road to this literary moment has been an improbable journey, but the 81-year-old is taking it all in stride.

“I’ve been here for 20 years, so I guess that means I’m part Canadian, eh?” said Wyly, with his characteristic dry sense of humour, as he described how a man from the American Southwest ended up in a Canadian mountain town that was not yet on anyone’s radar.

“It was in February, 2001,” the Roswell, New Mexico, native said. “We pulled into Canmore one night, and there had been a big snowstorm and an avalanche over in Rogers Pass, so we couldn’t get through.

“We were here for seven days, and we stayed at the Drake the whole time. I got to look around, and I said, ‘I don’t think we need to go any further.’ ”

The original plan was to travel out to the West Coast in search of a new place to live, but Wyly and his wife put their children in school and settled down in the Bow Valley.

Wyly spent most of his career in the clothing industry, before moving on to his own auto glass business. His late shift to writing relied on a turn of fate on par with his relocation to Canmore.

“A friend of mine from New York was in the clothing business with me at the same time, and we were writing notes and jokes back and forth,” Wyly said. “He wrote me back one day and he said, ‘You know, your stuff is kind of funny. Have you ever considered putting something out there?’ ”

The thought hadn’t occurred to Wyly until that moment, but it simmered, and from those modest beginnings the Tales of Wonder series was born. The Saga of Stickitville came out in 2019 and was followed by Gracie and the Wacky Bunch in 2020.

The quirky, comedic dramas are self-published and the positive feedback he has received from IndieReader and the general public has encouraged Wyly to push forward to see where the journey takes him – and his wacky collection of characters – from here. The Saga of Stickitville is on its second print run of 450 copies, and two more volumes of the series are in the works.

“It’s not about making money just yet; it’s about getting some exposure,” Wyly said. “I want to get noticed.”

Admittedly for Wyly, becoming a writer was not a lifelong dream. The process is all about delivering a funny story, and he’s only now learning a thing or two about the technical aspects of the language.

“I’ve never done anything like this in my life. If I’d written anything more than a postcard, it would have been a lot – I wouldn’t have had a clue. I still don’t know where to put the periods and the commas.”

However, Wyly does have the perfect ally in his corner in patient literary associate Anne Ryall.

“Anne’s a professional copy editor and proofreader, so she straightens all of that out for me. I take credit for the ideas and the humour, and I’ll let her take credit for making it readable,” Wyly said with a laugh.

Also providing key contributions to his books were talented locals Larry Shwedyk, who did the artwork for the covers, and Tiffany Meyer, who created their final design.

Drawing off an interesting life as a businessman, amateur race car driver and marathon runner, Wyly feels that there are plenty more stories left to tell.

“It’s an outlet for me to work with my own sense of humour,” he said. “Then put it out there and hope someone will get a giggle out of it. That’s what it’s really all about.”

Go to richardwyly.com for more information on the author and the Tales of Wonder series of books, including the next-to-be-released Purple Sunsets from the Front Porch of Jigger McFliggins and Pecan Pie and the Paradox of Love.