On May 1, 2019, Lyons Press will publish 22 Minutes, my book on the life of Ernie Coleman. A local sailing legend on Lake Ontario, Ernie’s long life was shadowed by a terrible tragedy. He’d survived the sinking of the cruiser Vincennes during World War II’s Battle of Savo Island, the worst open-sea defeat ever suffered by the United States Navy: a 22-minute battle, as referenced in the book’s title.
Here’s how it came about: I was hired by Ernie’s family to write the story of his life. A carpenter who built a family through four marriages, adoption, stepchildren. Episodes of tragedy, comedy, curiosity and a relentless desire to live life to its fullest. We self-published the book in 2012 as Chasing the Wind.
But agents were suggesting that I should re-write the book, and include my relationship with Ernie. And so I did, weaving into the story of how Chasing the Wind came together, and how to tell the story of what happened to Ernie on the night Vincennes was sunk, when he wouldn’t tell it himself because of his recurring nightmares. And how I took Ernie to book clubs and public readings, until a few months before his death at age 95.
A sample of what’s to come: