Gardiner News is about “Ordinary People in Ordinary Situations”

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In my previous column, I suggested that I would like to immerse myself a little in the literary arts.


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I was trying to compile a list of authors I know who live here in the Wallaceburg area or who are former residents.

While my list is far from over, I immediately think of Emily Schultz who now lives in Brooklyn NY and has reached new heights in the publishing world.

I am also thinking of the late Al Mann and his many books on local history, Marcy Kennedy, Mark Childs and Mark Aarssen which will soon be published.

Although I have never seen the book, the late Yon Shimizu wrote “The Exiles: An Archival History of WWII Japanese Road Camps in British Columbia and Ontario”, which I understand is a monumental work of research and writing.

I also know a few potential writers who wouldn’t want their names mentioned.

I believe we all have stories to tell, but few are able to turn those stories, fiction or non-fiction, into publishable work.

As with all artistic endeavors, great skills are required to be successful as an author.

This week I chatted with my longtime friend, fellow musician and published author John Gardiner.

Hailing from Hanover, a rather roundabout route in newspaper and magazine businesses, John finally landed here in Wallaceburg in August 1985.

When he started writing in his twenties in the 1980s, of course, there was no personal computer.

While $ 20 appears to be chicken feed today, the newspaper business was paying so poorly back then that it had to pay in two installments of $ 10.


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Known primarily as a short story writer, the period between 1987 and around 2005 was John’s most prolific years, when he produced over 150 works.

John describes his short stories as “emotional thoughts” meant to “create vivid emotional images in the minds of readers and listeners.”

He says he writes “ordinary stories about ordinary people in ordinary situations” or in other words, things that we can all relate to.

Although John’s stories are all fictional, they are based on real life experiences and many of his stories revolve around the underdog in society.

He has a special place in his heart for those in need, knowing that their lot in life is not always a simple matter of bad choices or their own fault.

After accumulating many stories, he started giving out random copies for people to read. Based on the feedback he received, in 1991 he decided to print a small collection of stories which were printed and bound locally by Copy Express.

In November 1991, he distributed the 100 copies of his collection, and they sold out within a week.

Based on this success, over the following years he printed three other different collections of his work which also sold well locally.

In the early 2000s, John decided to try to “disseminate” his material by doing what I will call a “literary tour” to several communities in our region.

He organized a room in each of the communities, invited his good childhood friend and superb musician / performer Richard Knechtel for musical entertainment, and read some of his news to anyone who wanted to listen.


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I attended one of his readings in Ridgetown and provided the sound equipment for the “concert”.

It was truly a wonderful, relaxing evening of lyrics and song in the most quaint little store on Main Street in Ridgetown. I made a recording of this event and listened to it several times over the years that followed.

Four years ago John published his first book titled “Souvenirs for Sale – Tales from a Small Town”. The book is a collection of 12 short stories, 12 poems and a short novel.

He embarked on a book tour that took him to over 50 stops across Ontario.

The tour was very similar to the tour in previous years, but this time it used local musicians for entertainment in each community.

Without the influence and marketing power of a great publisher, John says it’s very difficult for freelance writers to sell books.

If you want people to read your work, it takes a concerted personal effort.

While overall the book tour was a success, John says he sometimes read to two people and other times to 200, but he’s not particularly comfortable being a “man.” leading “.

His musical background is that of a bassist who is generally in the back row, a role and a place in which he is much more comfortable.

But he needed to sell his books.

As John told me, “I don’t want my stories to die with me”.

Following John on his book tour, while talented videographer Mitch Graszat – his wife Carol McPhail’s grandson – captured many of the moments and thoughts of John’s tour of Ontario. The result was an excellent, award-winning documentary which can be viewed on John’s web page,


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Fast forward to today, and John is about to launch his latest effort titled “My Life as a Left Handed, Upside Down, Upside Down, and Matching Short Stories”.

The book will be available in early October, and although it will eventually be available through Amazon and Chapters, local citizens can order a signed copy by simply calling John at 519-627-5978.

The book is another collection of short stories but begins with a great story about growing up in Hanover. John says this is a departure from his usual topic and that it is “mostly humorous anecdotes”.

John says writing is “extremely lonely work” to him, but there is no better feeling than finishing a story and knowing that you have just written something special.

Our conversation ended with an uplifting story.

After reading one of her stories, a lady called John to tell him that she had not spoken or had nothing to do with her mother for over 30 years. After reading the story, she ran home to talk to her mother.

There is nothing better than being able to affect someone’s life through your words.

Known primarily as a writer of short stories, John was prolific in his writing between the years 1987 and 2005 or so, producing over 150 short stories!



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