The five members of The Quintessential Writers Group of the Sunshine Coast began meeting weekly in 1983 to critique each other's work. The group's five members - Maureen Foss, Betty Keller, Rosella Leslie, Gwen Southin and Eileen Williston - published a steady parade of books, articles and short stories, each one turned out with the generous input and support of the others in the group. All of the Quintessential members were involved in the founding and organizig of the Festival of the Written Arts and the production of the Festival's famous Great Canadian Literary Cookbook, with Betty Keller and Gwen Southin acting as its editors.
Sadly, Eileen Williston died in 1996, a victim of cancer, and the group has since carried on as a foursome. Her sense of humour, her generosity of spirit and her formidable critiquing skills are truly missed. Her books, Rainbows at Noon (Quintessential Press, 1993) and Forests, Power and Policy: The Legacy of Ray Williston (Caitlin Press, 1997), which she co-authored with Betty Keller, are no longer in print.
By the end of the year 1999 the Quintessential Writers had published a total of thirteen books; they began the 21st century with a flourish:
New in 2000: The Rat Trap Murders (Nightwood Editions) by Maureen Foss, Pender Harbour Cowboy: The Many Lives of Bertrand Sinclair (Caitlin Press ) by Betty Keller, and Death in a Family Way (Robert Davies Publishing) by Gwen Southin.
New in 2001: The Sunshine Coast: A Place to Be (Touchwood Editions) by Rosella M. Leslie and Better the Devil You Know (Caitlin Press) by Betty Keller.
New in 2002: In the Shadow of Death: A Margaret Spencer Mystery (Robert Davies Publishing) by Gwendolyn Southin, and Skookum Tugs: British Columbia's Working Tugboats (Harbour Publishing) co-authored by Betty Keller.
New in 2004: A Stain Upon the Sea: West Coast Salmon Farming (Harbour Publishing) with contributions by Rosella Leslie and Betty Keller.
New in 2006: The Goat Lady's Daughter (NeWest Press) by Rosella Leslie
Gwen Southin's fifth Margaret Spencer Mystery, Death as a Fine Art (Touchwood Editions), leads Maggie into the world of painters and their models.
Rosella Leslie's Dispersed, the first novel in a trilogy, follows the lives of two Canadian and two Ukrainian siblings through the chaos of Eastern Europe during and immediately after World War I.
New in 2008: Death on a Short Leash (Touchwood Edtions) by Gwen Southin and the re-issue of Death in a Family Way and In the Shadow of Death (Touchwood Editions) by Gwen Southin.
New in 2009: the Revised Edition of Bright Seas, Pioneer Spirits: A History of the Sunshine Coast (Touchwood Editions) by Rosella Leslie and Betty Keller
New in 2010: Death as a Last Resort (Touchwood Editions) by Gwen Southin, The Drift Child (NeWest Press) by Rosella Leslie, and A Thoroughly Wicked Woman (Caitlin Press) by Betty Keller.
New in 2011: Scribes (Caitlin Press) by Maureen Foss, and the re-issue of Better the Devil You Know (Caitlin Press) by Betty Keller.
Total: 29 books!