Camas author pens event’s new chapter

First Friday will have 'Arts and Letters' theme, with signings by writers

Published:

 

o What: "Arts and Letters," as part of the monthly First Friday celebration in Camas.

o When: 5 to 8 p.m. March 5, with readings offered from 6 to 8 p.m. in Journey Community Church, at the intersection of Northeast Fourth Avenue and Birch Street.

o Where: Throughout downtown Camas, around Northeast Fourth Avenue.

o Admission: Free.

o Information: Carrie Schulstad at 360-834-5445 or http://downtowncamas.com/.

o What: “Arts and Letters,” as part of the monthly First Friday celebration in Camas.

o When: 5 to 8 p.m. March 5, with readings offered from 6 to 8 p.m. in Journey Community Church, at the intersection of Northeast Fourth Avenue and Birch Street.

o Where: Throughout downtown Camas, around Northeast Fourth Avenue.

o Admission: Free.

o Information: Carrie Schulstad at 360-834-5445 or http://downtowncamas.com/.

Hiking the trails in the hills above Barcelona, Ron Gompertz became inspired to write his first novel. He and friend Jeff Forsythe were grousing “about the decline and fall of just about everything” when Gompertz began pondering the probability that people for thousands of years probably had been doing that same sort of contemplation and carping on those same dirt paths.

He started to find humor in that hopelessness, as well as modern parallels between America and the decimated Roman empire and its ruins, which he became fascinated in exploring. For the next five years, Gompertz devoted his vacations from his career as a mechanical engineer at Hewlett-Packard Co. to researching the Romans and examining ruins around the Mediterranean.

He eventually relocated from Spain to Camas, self-published his book and then trod down another well-worn path: the one of an author struggling to get people to actually read the work.

That experience compelled Gompertz, who also is president of the Camas Educational Foundation, to lobby organizers of the First Friday celebration in downtown Camas. His efforts helped to give local authors a chance this month to engage with that arts-oriented audience through an “Arts and Letters” theme developed for the event, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. March 5, which includes a dozen author signings, as well as numerous readings.

“It just occurred to me that there might be a larger author community here in Clark County,” Gompertz said. “If we can find them, maybe we can bring some new people into Camas for the evening, establish a tradition and make this into a bigger event.”

The initial group will be a diverse collection that includes such writers as:

• Pat Jollota, a former Vancouver City Council member, who has written books about the history of both Vancouver and Camas.

• The mystery-writing team of Carolyn J. Rose and Mike Nettleton, whose titles include “The Big Grabowski,” about the death of an unscrupulous land developer.

• Blythe Ayne, creator of several self-help and meditation books, including “The Power of pH Balance.”

• Sherian Wright, a retired mechanical engineer, who wrote the book “Mason Bees for the Backyard Gardener.”

• And Jenna Lumbard, an autistic woman who never developed speech but has been able to learn to express herself through a computer, allowing her to write poetry, short stories and the children’s book “Worried Wendy Goes to School.”

Gompertz said his book, “No Roads Lead to Rome,” should be classified as humorous historical fiction, like, he said, “Dilbert in the Roman Empire. … This is not a serious read for classical scholars.” It chronicles the intersection of “clumsy schemes of an inept governor, an old centurion’s struggle to keep his faith in the fading ideals of the Roman Republic and a young rebel’s reluctant vow to change the course of history.”

Getting authors connected to larger audiences is one of the goals of this event, Gompertz said, but he and other organizers also simply want people from throughout Clark County to have another reason to visit downtown Camas and see what’s new.

Gompertz said that his trail-walking friend in Barcelona, Forsythe, also later transferred to Camas, and his wife, Beth, has been helping to transform the city’s main street, Northeast Fourth Avenue, into a destination shopping district. Her store is “Lizzabeth A.”

Gompertz added, “There are a lot of nice restaurants, happy hours and delightful shops in this area. Most people outside of Camas don’t seem to know that.”