Dorothy Jepp (at left, with her daughter Ramona Holota and some of her books) says she writes the kind of books she would like to have seen and had when she was growing up. Photo: Raven Nyman

Dorothy Jepp (at left, with her daughter Ramona Holota and some of her books) says she writes the kind of books she would like to have seen and had when she was growing up. Photo: Raven Nyman

Clinton-area author draws on own experiences for her books

Dorothy Jepp grew up on High Bar First Nation and writes the books she wanted to see as a child

Beginner writers are often encouraged to write about what they know. It was advice that Clinton-area author Dorothy Jepp — who had an invitation to go to Hollywood from none other than actor Gary Cooper — took to heart, using her experiences growing up on the isolated High Bar First Nation as inspiration for her books. On Nov. 30 she and several other local authors will be in Ashcroft for a book signing.

Jepp came to writing late in life, and says that when she was a child she remembers other kids getting children’s books, and wishing that she could have some too.

“Dad would go to Vancouver twice a year for supplies, but not books. I used to think ‘I wish I could get books too,’ and finally decided to write them myself.”

Her first book, the autobiographical Once Upon a Lifetime in the Cariboo, was written about 15 years ago, and drew on the people, places, wildlife, and stories she had encountered. It did not, however, start off as a book.

“I had piles of paper about things I remembered from growing up, people I knew. Once they pass away they’re forgotten, and I thought that if I wrote it down people might find ‘I knew him or her.’

“Someone said ‘That should be a book,’ and I thought about it for three months [before writing it]. I’d like to do a revised version. Almost everyone I wrote about is dead now.”

Jepp then decided to write a children’s book; the type of book she would have wanted to read when she was younger. “When I was in school we had the Dick, Jane, and Spot books. My stories are about Shuswap village life, and the lessons learned by kids, or interaction with wildlife, or the Village life around High Bar, what I learned from Elders.

“And I write about ranch workers and farmers I knew so they won’t be forgotten.”

Jepp — who won awards for drawing when she was in school — illustrates her books with pencil crayon and marker illustrations. “I’ve painted with oil and watercolours, but I like to use something finer for the book illustrations. Kids really like them.”

However, her illustrations came close to being lost after Jepp decided to burn her early handwritten manuscripts; a decision she now regrets.

“I had stacks of paper that I would have had to put in order, and that seemed too hard. I was going to burn all the original illustrations as well, but a friend said that they were too precious.”

The kids also provide Jepp with story ideas. One of her books featured a character called the Little Multi-Coloured Rooster, who struck a chord with children.

“I’ve done readings in Kamloops, Chase, Williams Lake, Clinton, Cache Creek, and Ashcroft, and he’s the most popular character. The kids never quit asking questions, and one kid asked ‘Will the Little Multi-Coloured Rooster get a mate?’ When I told him ‘Yes,’ his eyes bugged out and he clapped.”

The result was The Little Multi-Coloured Rooster Finds a Mate, which also features their chicks. Jepp says she drew on experience when writing about the chicks’ reaction when First Nations drumming starts up and frightens them. “I’d be out there helping to find the chicks, who were hiding because they were scared.”

Jepp has an amazing story about an experience she had when she was 13. “I was out riding, trying to rope a coyote. Dimples was a good roping mare, so when the coyote turned, Dimples turned, but I didn’t, and fell off.”

She had noticed a man in a parked car watching her, and when she fell she heard him honk the horn. “He was gesturing, and thought I was hurt, but I was embarrassed that someone had seen me fall off.”

The man turned out to be Hollywood star Gary Cooper, who used to go to the Gang Ranch in the summer. “He said that he could use me in the movies, but I was too scared.”

Jepp says that children are asking for a third Multi-Coloured Rooster book, so that series might go for a long time. She now uses a computer to write her books, but says she can’t just sit down at a set time and write.

“In the evening my brain kicks in, so I’ll sit and write. It’s hard to stop. I might not write for several days, but then it comes easily.

“Sometimes I can’t fall asleep at night because something has been bothering me and then it clicks, so I have to get out of bed and run to the computer. It can be hard, but then you get rolling along when your mind gets into it.”

Jepp’s daughter Ramona Holota says that if they had more time and money they would put the books together with a stuffie of one of the characters. “Mom has also been asked about audiobook versions, or an animated version.

“We sell almost as many books to seniors as to kids, and they have so much fun laughing.”

Jepp agrees. “There were there people in the doctor’s office in Clinton reading one of my books and laughing about one of the characters, a big-breasted Cornish hen. I don’t think they realized that was the actual name of the bird. I said ‘I’m glad you ladies like my book.’”

She says that she sells most of her books at Christmas, and area residents will have an opportunity to get autographed copies of Jepp’s books at a signing being held in the old Sam’s Diner location on Railway Avenue in Ashcroft. Until Nov. 30, Jepp’s books — along with those of local authors Annie Bourret, J.M. Landels, Anne-Michele Levesque, Sara L. Sen, and Barbara Roden — are on display (along with local artwork) at the Sidewalk Gallery in Ashcroft, and owner Angela Bandelli has arranged a book signing on Saturday, Nov. 30 starting at 2 p.m. Most of the authors — including Jepp — will be there to sell and sign copies of their books, just in time for Christmas gift-giving, so feel free to drop by and meet the authors.



editorial@accjournal.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

A display of Dorothy Jepp’s books at the Sidewalk Gallery in Ashcroft. Jepp will be one of several local authors selling and signing her books there on Nov. 30. Photo: Barbara Roden

A display of Dorothy Jepp’s books at the Sidewalk Gallery in Ashcroft. Jepp will be one of several local authors selling and signing her books there on Nov. 30. Photo: Barbara Roden

Just Posted

Interior Health update. File photo.
86 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

The new deaths are from Heritage Square, a long-term care facility in Vernon

A power outage Thursday night left nearly 3,000 homes in Clinton and the 70 Mile areas in the dark. (Katie McCullough photo).
Updated: Clinton, 70 Mile left in the dark after vehicle crashes into transmission pole

BC Hydro still working to restore power to 330 homes in 70 Mile House

A woman wearing a protective face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
115 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths in Interior Health

There are now a total of 4,970 cases in the region

Community consultation is now open regarding disposal of the former Ashcroft Elementary property, which since 2015 has operated as the Ashcroft HUB. (Photo credit: Vicci Weller)
Feedback now sought regarding disposal of Ashcroft Elementary

Residents of the region can have their say about the future of the former AES property

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the press theatre at the B.C. legislature for an update on COVID-19, Jan. 7, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 spread steady with 509 new cases Friday

Hospitalized and critical care cases decline, nine deaths

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

A COVID-19 outbreak at Vernon's Heritage Square long-term care home has claimed seven people. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Two more COVID-19 deaths at Vernon care home

Heritage Square has now lost seven people due to the outbreak

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government reinforces importance of anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Black Press media file
Port McNeill driver tells police he thought the pandemic meant no breathalyzers

Suspect facing criminal charges after breathalyzer readings in excess of 3.5 times the legal limit

Most Read