When it comes to the complexity of a family dynamic, local author Diana Stevan’s writing is empathetic toward the frantic chaos that encompasses each and every one of our loved ones.
“There’s this undeniable fact that when a family member falls down, we need to rally around or take care of them, despite how difficult that is,” says the former psychotherapist turned award winning writer. “In the end, things are difficult but this is what a normal family is, it’s what people go through. It is my hope that it would resonate with people.”
Stevan, who grew up in Winnipeg, launches her latest book, entitled ‘Paper Roses on Stony Mountain, this Saturday Oct. 15.
The novel is the third and final chapter in the ‘Lukia Family Saga’ trilogy, which started with 2019’s ‘Sunflowers Under Fire.’ It concludes the story of Ukraninan immigrant Lukia Mazurets, who was based on Stevan’s grandmother and like her, emmigrated to Canada in 1915.
“My first language was Ukranian, even though I was born in an English speaking city and country,” Stevan says “My Baba (grandmother) was living with us at the time. We shared a bedroom, we shared a bed.”
She says that her parents’ insistence about learning her family’s culture encompassed a great deal of passion to her work.
“My Mom and Dad wanted to make sure I understood the culture they came from. I went to Ukranian school, took dance lessons. I went to Ukranian Church.”
Which makes the current Russian war with the Ukraine, which commenced in February, all that more personal.
“The Ukranian spirtual hymn that was sung on Saturday Night Live,” said Stevan, “They sung that when I was a child at the end of every church service. Most of the congregation where I grew up, they were immigrants. You could feel the passion in their voices when singing. Here they were, having come to a place where another country was dominating them. When Russia invaded in Feburary, I burst out in tears. I feel helpless.”
Paper Roses on Stony Mountain is a book that covers the last years of the Great Depression of the 1930’s, right into the outbreak of the World War II. It is a book which encompasses Lukia’s efforts to keep her frail family ties, with sons Mike and Egnat and daughter Dunya (referred to in this book as Dolly) together, despite Dunya’s falling in love with ‘lazy bugger’ Peter and Mike’s further descent into alcholism. The central theme in the book is family, and the undying desire to keep together the ties that bind.
“The human spirit is more resilient than we think, there is that courage to keep going, even when things are bleak,” Stevan says.
Stevan will be signing books at Coho Books in Campbell River on Oct. 20 from 10 to noon, and at the Laughing Oyster bookshop in Courtneay later from 1-3 pm. She will be one of a number of province based authors who will be at the Big Island Bookfest on Oct 22 from 10 am-5 pm.
Her books are also available at Save-On-Foods in Campbell River.