"It has been well-received in the community. All I really wanted was to give a book to my five grandchildren, but I didn't expect anything like this," said Jill Crosby at the book signing and launch of her first children's book, at the Arbor Gallery Cultural Center in Vankleek Hill, on December 15.
And the audience ranges not only from her age group or that of her two daughters with kids; but it was a rather general curiosity vis-à-vis her prowess as a writer, from people who already knew her work as a local artist.
What is remarkable about her story is that each one of her five grandchildren is a character in the book. The story is one she used to narrate to her two daughters when they were small, and back then as the main protagonists.
Now that she is the proud grandmother of Hudson, Vaughn, Malone, Nickoy, and Theodore, Crosby spun the story so as to include them as the new protagonists in a tale full of adventure, "in a land long lost, when dragons ruled the earth," as she described it. She did not forget to include her two daughters as princesses, her two sons-in-law, as well as her long-time friend, Peter Wass, as Dr. Crabtree.
The Golden Circlet has been made available to a number of local schools, the local library in Vankleek Hill, and it can be supplied for free to any local school that asks for it, according to Crosby.
Before launching her first book, Crosby has gained notoriety as an illustrator and watercolourist, with some of her murals exhibited at fairgrounds, such as the annual Vankleek Hill Fair.
The artist, who made Vankleek Hill her home 45 years ago when she came here from Montreal, said she was grateful for all the support necessary to start her career, that was provided by lots of people here. "When you live in a small pond and you're a big fish, you get noticed much easier," joked Crosby.
As for her future projects, Crosby intends to devote more time to developing a more complex plot for the sequel to "The Golden Circlet", with the same characters, only a little older, facing greater challenges, such as confronting dragons. The illustrations are also going to be more abundant.