Known locally as a musician, recording engineer and concert organizer, Pat Buckna has just completed a book. Titled Only Children, it’s a memoir and the project evolved slowly.
“I started the book about 17 years ago; it’s had a long gestation,” said Buckna.
He began the process in 2002 by enrolling in a 10-month creative writing intensive at Simon Fraser University. The book he first envisaged writing was based on the stories behind songs on an album he had released, however, that is not what emerged.
“It was a very different book I thought I was going to write than the one it ended up being,” he said. “Once I started going back into the stories of the songs, I started going back into my life and ended up somewhere in my childhood.”
Buckna had grown up believing he was an only child. One of the big revelations of his life was discovering he was not. At age four he recalls an older boy coming to stay with his family for a short time. It turned out to be his older half-brother Gerry.
“He stayed with us for a week or two, then he left and I didn’t see him again for 40 years,” said Buckna.
Not long before their mother died, Buckna and Gerry reconnected.
“I found out I had other brothers and sisters; my parents both had other children,” he added. “I really had no awareness and neither did any of them. None of us grew up together.”
Writing about these experiences helped answer questions, said Buckna.
“There were many things that really perplexed me and in writing the book and through the things I discovered, it all made sense,” he added.
The experience also helped him to understand his own feelings about families and choices he had made.
“Families have secrets,” he said. “Sometimes they don’t want to share those secrets, and sometimes they come out.”
Buckna said he found the process of writing his life story as nonfiction was a major challenge at times, but he is proud of the finished product and excited to share it with others.
“At one point I was struggling with the book because some of the things that happen in it are pretty unbelievable and bizarre,” he said. “I thought ‘maybe I should try writing it as a novel,’ but I couldn’t change the facts and what had happened. I couldn't do that with my own life experiences. What’s important is to be truthful and accurate about what I remember.”
A book launch for Only Children takes place at 7 pm on Friday, September 6, at Powell River Public Library.