Maybe some of you may have seen the colourful children’s book Hot Rod Greta on display in places such as Askew’s, True Value Hardware and many other places in Sicamous and Salmon Arm. It is written by Sicamous resident Lynn Minion and illustrated by Carla Gosgnach, from Salmon Arm. I talked to Minion about this wonderful book.
Q: How did this book come about?
A: I drive the beautiful orange hot rod truck, and kids always look and point at my truck and I wonder how kids know that this is an old car? I figured there should be a book for children about old cars and hot rods – they are in movies but hardly in any books. So I decided to write a book and call it Hot Rod Greta after my granddaughter.
Q: I hear there is a sad story attached to that? Do you feel comfortable talking about that?
A: Yes I am. Greta was my granddaughter and she died of a brain tumour when she was a year-and-a-half old. She was diagnosed at four months old. Doctors removed a big tumour but it grew back and had to be removed again. Then the first chemo treatment, Greta’s fragile little body just could not take it.
Q: And now the reason is clear that you are donating part of the proceeds to the Children’s Hospital.
A: Part of it is donated after I take off my costs of publishing and the rest will be donated in the name of Greta in perpetuity. I did not do this for the money. The picture on the back of the book is the picture that is at the Children’s Hospital. They put a funny hat on her because she was going to lose her hair.
We want to make sure that Greta will not be forgotten. August 19 was the day she died. It was very hard to have to remove the life support for the young parents.
Q: So in a round about way that is how this book came about. Was your truck named Greta before this all happened?
A: No the name was added to the truck later. It was the name of her other Grandma. Greta’s names were Greta Lynn after both the grandmothers.
Q: The book is great and I know because, as a grandmother, I read many children’s books to my grandsons and this book has all the things that children love. Finding the bee, little animal buddies, learning colours, a girl who wants to fix up an old car which is unusual for girls to do, etc. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Did you ever write something before?
A: No I never ever dreamed about writing a children’s book but I did think about writing a book. But seeing faces of children laughing and looking at my truck is what gave me the idea. In the book there is a bee. I always called Greta my Greta bee. That’s where the bee comes from in the book.
Q: The illustrations are beautiful and they are all hand done.
A: Carla Gosnach worked so hard and wanted it to be the way I saw it. The book is beautiful but the originals are even more stunning. She is phenomenal.
Q: How did you find Carla Gosgnach?
A: That is quite the story. I never had a tattoo and don’t usually agree with them. But the other grandma and I thought that it would be nice to have a small tattoo in Chinese that said Greta.
On Greta’s birthday I booked for a tattoo with Carla. I heard she was good so I went in by myself on Greta’s birthday and got the tattoo.
As I was waiting for my tattoo, I saw certificates that Carla had won awards for her tattoo work. And I asked her if she did cartoons because I want to write about my truck for a children’s book. Her answer was that she would love to do a children’s book and we just started. It took a year. We had to talk all the time about how we wanted Greta to look and because Carla is a tattoo artist she is used to listening to people to get their ideas and she got mine just perfectly.
Greta is Irish and that’s why she has a four leaf clover on her shirt. And a little bit of our family is in the story.
Q: How has the response been to this little gem so far?
A: The school board just bought it for the lower grades. Askew’s, True Value, Channel House, Pharmasave in Salmon Arm, Bookingham Palace, The Book Nook in Salmon Arm, Save On Foods, Coles in Vernon, Coles in Langley all are carrying it.
The first weekend in September I will be doing a book signing at the Askew’s parking lot and I will have my orange truck with me as well. I will have to confirm the date later.
Q: So what is your next step?
A: My next book is going to have more hot rods in it. It will be a Christmas story. Christmas is so overrated. It is all about money. This book will have a little bit more meaning. But it won’t be out until next year.
What a pleasure it was to talk with Lynn and to find out that we have such wonderful talent here in Sicamous.
Greta should not, and will not, be forgotten, thanks to her grandmother Lynn Minion and Carla Gosgnach.