Danielle R. Graham’s debut historical novel All We Left Behind

Human beings throughout history have always turned to art, music, philosophy and literature to understand and record our world. Art is how we process and document the human experience. And the arts are a source of hope during times of transition and uncertainty, like what we are experiencing now with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately, many artists and authors have had projects and appearances cancelled due to venue closures and restrictions on travelling and social gatherings, right at a time when people may need the arts the most.

Of course, creative people do quickly find other ways to share their content with live-streamed, one-person concerts from their home, drive-by window art galleries, and online story times, but the shift away from in-person events has been a challenge for artists who rely on audiences, visitors or readers.

If you have a favourite author, musician or artist you would like to champion, or if you are a patron of the arts, there are still many ways to support the arts during physical distancing.

  • Tell two people about a movie or song or book you liked, and hopefully they will tell two people so word can spread from there. Or “like” and share the artist’s social media posts to increase visibility.
  • Write reviews on book retailer sites and Goodreads.
  • Leave comments on a musician’s performance page.
  • Buy a work of art directly from an artist or commission a painting or sculpture to be delivered to you.
  • Order music and merchandise like t-shirts or posters from your favourite band or musician.
  • Start a virtual book club. Book clubs are moving to video conferencing social apps and most books are available to purchase from retailers or to borrow from the library as a digital eBook. You don’t even need an e-reader. Any computer or tablet can read eBooks with apps from iBooks, KOBO, Nook, and Amazon Kindle. Many book retailers and indie shops are also offering delivery or curbside pickup for paperback orders too.
  • Sign up for a virtual guitar lesson or art class.
  • Request that your public library purchase your favourite books for their digital catalogue — many people are surprised to learn that the Canada Council for the Arts pays public lending rights to Canadian authors for every copy of their books found in libraries across Canada — so ordering and borrowing an e-Book from your public library is another way to support authors.
  • If you are a teacher, introduce students to the work of artists and musicians online and ask them to write comments, invite them as a paid speaker to your virtual classroom, or assign a book you think is important to the reading list.

I’m sure there are more ideas to add to the list, but it’s a start.

The release date of my debut historical novel, All We Left Behind, is May 5th.
The timing of the release landing during a pandemic is both unfortunate and serendipitous at the same time.

For me, art, literature, philosophy and history have always been so important and intertwining. My two personal creative inspirations for my novel are my grandfather William Aldcorn, who was a Canadian spitfire pilot shot down during the war, and my nephews’ ninety-eight year old great-grandfather Ted Tadayuki Kadohama, who was born in Ladner BC and interned during the war.

More than 22,000 Japanese Canadians from British Columbia were treated as enemy aliens — forced by government orders to evacuate the coast and to surrender their properties and belongings. Most were sent to internment camps, highway work camps or to work as farm hands out of province. After the war ended, these Canadians — who had committed no crime — were still prevented by the government from returning home for another four years. Many never returned.

For many young people today, WWII probably seems like something that happened such a long time ago, in places they have never been to, and to people they didn’t know. The truth is, the tragic events surrounding WWII happened to people I knew, and they happened right outside our own front doors.

More than one million Canadians served in WWII, more than 40,000 were killed, and 9,000 were captured and taken prisoner of war. Food was rationed, factories were shut down or repurposed to make supplies for the war effort, nighttime quarantines and blackouts were in effect, lives at home were put on hold and lives sent overseas were lost.

Maybe another war like WWII would never happen again, but tragedies that strike and impact the entire world can and do happen — we are living through an example of that right now with the pandemic.

Not unlike the pandemic that has swept the world, World War II brought fear and disruption. But when the world is full of uncertainty, we can choose to react to that with fear or hope — just as the main characters in the book had to do. One of the quotes in the book is by the philosopher Albert Camus, which is particularly poignant today.

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.”

— Albert Camus

With the world slowing down and taking a breather for this pandemic, the hectic component of our lives is removed and many of us find that we are inevitably drawn back to art, music, philosophy and literature. Maybe the experience of self-isolating is a reminder to return to a greater appreciation of what is truly important, to reconnect with our compassion, to re-harmonize through the rhythm of quiet creativity, to heal ourselves and the planet, and to ultimately make the world a better place.

To everyone who opens up the vulnerable part of their soul to create the art, to everyone who hears, sees, feels and becomes transformed by the art, and to everyone who deeply understands the human value of supporting the art, I thank you.

Please take care and be kind to one another. And maybe create some art to brighten someone’s day.

Danielle R. Graham is a family therapist and author from Steveston B.C.


Readers adore All We Left Behind

“As heartwarming as it is heartbreaking.”
Mark Sakamoto, author of Forgiveness, winner of CBC Canada Reads

“Heart-wrenching. Emotional. A powerful story of wartime love and devotion.”
Glynis Peters, author of The Secret Orphan

“A story crying out to be told”
Mary Martel, Netgalley

“From the very first chapter, I was hooked”
Whitney Wenthold, Netgalley

“This is another WWII novel with a bit of a twist… a story of friendship, love, heartbreak and so much more”
Pam, Netgalley

“Fabulous, gripping historical fiction…I am glad that I was able to come away from this novel learning something new about this time in history”
Rachel Fox, Netgalley

Gripping from start to finish…A must read for WWII fiction fans!”
Sydney Long, Goodreads

“An amazing story that will stick with me…historic fiction done right”
Stephanie Showmaker, Netgalley

“Historical fiction at its best”
Abby Siverman, Netgalley

This entry was posted in books/writing, CWILL BC news & events, latest news, new publications, novels and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Danielle R. Graham’s debut historical novel All We Left Behind

  1. Shelley Hrdlitschka says:

    Such a striking cover! Thanks for this helpful article and I look forward to reading the book.

  2. SANDRA J Latreille says:

    an amazing story so well written and factually correct. as someone who was born in Greenwood the location of the first internment evacuation and one who grew up with an entire Japanese community I can really appreciate the story and it brings back so many memories of how war changes everything.

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