Sitting in a chair along a faux fire place, was a scruffy man in a denim jacket to match his jeans. A blue Chicago Cubs baseball cap rested on his head, covering his slightly shaggy dark brown hair. He had cool, icy blue eyes, which were warm and inviting. The thin plaid snap shirt suggested a country boy who knows these parts and how to get to any area through side roads and secret dirt pathways.
This man is from a small area within these parts that is close to town, yet a world away. The Big Eddy is where John Stoller Hangs up his Cubs hat at the end of the day and Revelstoke is a place where he and his family have always called home.
Stoller sat down with the Revelstoke Current to discuss his first book entitled The Clan, which is about four close friends that go off for an annual backwoods excursion, only to find themselves in a spooky and life changing experience.
The idea of this 240 page novel began in 1996 when Stoller was working the 3:00pm to 11:00pm shift at the original Petro-Canada gas station near Woodenhead Loop. During the slow shifts he would jot down notes, ideas and radical concepts into a notepad. He had character ideas and certain genres that would make for an interesting infusion of science fiction meets spiritual with a touch of the ominous local legends of the back-country.
“When I was 13-years old, my Dad took me mushroom picking in the bush. I looked up, and all of a sudden, I didn’t know where he was. I could not see him. Turns out, he was maybe 20 feet away, but even with a florescent orange vest, I had no idea. That’s where the idea came from, that you can lose everything out there.”
With the core concept of the story being that four friends go out to find themselves in the forest, they end up losing themselves and each other, this overall concept of fear, wonderment and spirituality plays a role in Stollers novel. Each character in the book is loosely based on a real person living in Revelstoke. The characters first names are the middle names of the real Revelstokians and their last names are the surrounding mountain passes to give this book a real inside local flavor.
When asked about how long it took from concept to print, Stoller informed the Revelstoke Current that it was a 21-year process. With his notes intact in ’96, he did not begin writing his first draft until 2000, and after a computer malfunction, he lost his chapters and did not restart his work until 2003.
“I got myself a 1990 Tandy typewriter and I wrote out seven chapters. After realizing that it would take me a lifetime, I finally gave in and got a computer.”
Stoller completed his first draft in 2011 where it sat in a drawer for three years. After finding the courage to show his friends and family, his story was well received. He passed his work along to the originator of the Revelstoke Current, Editor David F. Rooney to help him along with his journey. Rooney edited for Stoller in November in 2016 and was the one who suggested he publish his book with Friesen Press. Stoller put up the six-thousand dollars to have his passion become a reality and on September 14th, 2017, he had a copy of his imagination in his hand.
“I have had a lot of support from everybody. So far, not a bad word. There are two individuals I wish could have read this book before they passed away, one is David Rooney and the other was my Dad who died in 2015.” Stoller somberly shared. “I know a few parts my Dad might not have liked, but I think they both would have appreciated it.”
Stoller’s novel The Clan can be found at Grizzly Book & Serendipity Shop, Rona, Stay Cool and Revelstoke Museum & Archives.