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Spirit of Animals soar in Kootenay writer’s new book

Barry Gray’s book ‘The Great Spirit of Animals’ is now available in West Kootenay book stores
Barry Gray brought his vast experience in the B.C. wilderness to life in a new book titled The Great Spirit of All Animals .

Barry Gray brought his vast experience in the B.C. wilderness to life in a new book titled The Great Spirit of All Animals.

Born in 1953, Gray was raised in Rossland, attended Cook Avenue school, and graduated from Rossland Secondary School in 1971.

His six older brothers introduced Gray to the West Kootenay wilderness at a young age.

Barry Gray

From that time on he has embraced the wonder of forests, mountains, lakes and streams, which he dubbed the “Great Backlands,” and the wild animals that live there.

His interest in the outdoors continues to this day as he now, at age 70, still lives on the edge of the Great Backlands on the West Arm of Kootenay Lake and ventures out regularly into that wilderness year-round.

The animals depicted in the stories include a wide range of creatures from cougar, grizzly and wolverine to ant, worm and bee, as well a host of birds, rodents, fish and ungulates familiar to many Kootenay residents.

According to reader E.C.: “Your language is rich, musical, and vivid. The tales carry an enchantment about them imbued with the Spirit of the Animals as I imagine you intended them to be.”

Gray consulted with children’s librarian and illustrator Jan Peterson, and both consider the stories suitable for age eight and up.

He doesn’t classify them as children’s literature, but rather of interest to almost any age.

“The stories share a level of maturity to them in that I don’t pull any punches about the fact that animals kill and eat each other,” said Gray. “Yes, there is a certain sense of the fantastical in that the stories include inter-species conversations, but there is no glorification of life in the wilderness and definitely nothing disney-esque about that life.”

Barry Gray describes himself as, “a former teacher, caregiver, and gadabout who is now a full-time storyteller, writer, and grandparent.”

He is working on a new collection of Kootenay tales, not just animals this time, scheduled to come out later in 2024.

The Great Spirit of All Animals can be purchased at Gold Rush Books in Rossland, Crockett Books in Trail, and Otter Books in Nelson where it was declared the best-selling book for the Christmas season.

You can reach Gray who now lives in Harrop via email:

Jim Bailey

About the Author: Jim Bailey

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