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Third book in compelling series now available

They have been coming at readers in a fast and furious fashion and they have been gobbled up by those who love to devour words which brings a smile to author Marie Calder.

They have been coming at readers in a fast and furious fashion and they have been gobbled up by those who love to devour words which brings a smile to author Marie Calder.

The third book in what is being described as "The Other Side" series has been released by Borealis Press of Ottawa and it is gaining quick approval according to early sales.

The Other Side of Pain hit the book reading world this past week. It is the most recent installment, following on the heels of The Other Side of War, which was released in late summer and The Other Side of Fear, which followed in mid-September.

"But the fourth book won't be out until next spring," said Calder, noting that the publishers are already busy with a second printing of the first book in the series since most of the original 2,000 copies have been sold.

The series takes readers through a series of events, recounting the trials and travails of Calder's father Ed Donais who befriended a German family just a short time after the conclusion of the Second World War.

The books are listed as fiction, but are based on fact. Since some dialogue has to be crafted by Calder in the retelling, the novels are required to carry the fiction title. But make no mistake, it's her story her father's story.

The first book introduces the main characters who include Donais and his army buddies stationed as reconstructive engineers near a small German community in the war-torn country. They are housed in battered railway boxcars that are located near the home of a German family that makes do with what little they have in the form of food and materials.

Donais, who is homesick for his family back in southeast Saskatchewan, befriends a 10-year-old German boy and his parents and sisters and the story takes off from there.

By helping a starving German family, Donais not only helped himself, but set the stage for a lasting impression that carried over to include the next generation of the two families who got together again in the late 1990s.

The Other Side of Fear and The Other Side of Pain, take the readers forward and closer to these encounters.

For Calder, the rigorous marketing schedule has been a roller-coaster ride, but one that she has found most interesting since she has engaged in author readings and book signings along the way including Remembrance Day appearances in both Redvers and Bienfait.

On Nov. 17 she'll be in Kennedy before slipping over to Manor in the evening for a second reading, then back to the small community of Tilston, Manitoba, where the Donais family has roots, and where the first book in the series was launched. That happens on Nov. 21.

She's also booked for the Dickens' Festival in Carlyle on Dec. 4. But before that, she'll be jaunting out to British Columbia where she has a series of appearances booked with Black Bond Books, a small chain of booksellers who have outlets in Vancouver, Mission and Langley. She then attends Robert Bateman High School in Vancouver on Nov. 29.

"I also went to McNally Robinson in Saskatoon. They have a great management and events co-ordinator there. Their billboard and marketing plan that features emerging authors is pretty impressive," said Calder, whose previous experience with writing was restricted to a children's book which fit well into her groove as a retired elementary school teacher.

But her father's story kept haunting her, abetted by the fact that she was just a young girl when he died in a tragic vehicle accident.

The Other Side books have also found a home on Chapters bookshelves in Regina, but for the most part, Calder said, it has been the independent sellers and her own marketing plan that has carried the day for the distribution of the books.

An interview with the CBC carried a lot of weight, and other media attention has helped the book sales gain steam.

"I'm getting some attention, which is pretty good for a no-name author tucked away in the southeast corner of the province," she said with a laugh.

In many cases, the readers who got involved in the story in the first book didn't have long to wait before they could latch onto the second and third. But now there will be a bit of a time lapse.

"I have to be careful not to wear myself down," said the author. "They've put me on this roller-coaster since the end of September "

It's an easy read. It didn't take me long to get into the story," said reader and Other Side fan, Jacki Lalonde of Estevan. "I love to read, but I get interrupted a lot and she writes with a style that allows me to pick it up and get back into the story easily."

Lalonde said she wasn't able to get to Calder's first book release reading in the Estevan Public Library in September, but managed to contact her through a fax and she picked up a copy from Calder herself. She has finished the second book too, and picked up a copy of the most recent release on Nov. 12.

"My marketing style so far has been pretty tiny, but very enjoyable. Now with McNally Robinson having copies of the first book on their shelves something they've just had since Nov. 6, we'll see how well it goes from there," she said.

So the story of the Donais and Schmidt families and their unique friendship through a war-time experience and over thousands of miles and six decades continues.

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