Priest is diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) and is not able to speak, but her eyes said it all: she was blown away by the Yukoners who appeared for the book launch. As her husband, Ben Parfitt, started reading a chapter of the book, listeners were transported to life in the mining town of Elsa, where Priest grow up in the 1950s.
The book starts with the personal history of the Priest family — the story of her parents, who had different personalities, like day and night. Priest describes her idyllic childhood in Elsa with loving parents, an older sister, and a friendly environment.
The harmonious picture was suddenly destroyed when the family moved to East Vancouver and Priest realized there was something wrong. When her father, Gerry Priest’s, name appeared in a Vancouver paper, Alicia knew enough to keep her mouth shut.
In 1962, her father bought the remote Moon claims, which had sparked interest in miners for years.
In 1963, over $160,000 worth of ore was stolen from the second richest silver mine in Canada. The ore heist is one of the biggest crimes Yukon history.
In her press kit, Priest says her father’s high-profile trials over the stolen ore and his time in prison turned their family life upside-down, and inside-out.
“It took me decades to get over it,” Priest says. “It broke my heart.”
Her father never admitted his guilt to the public, or to his own daughter. Priest had to learn that her father had two sides: the loving father and the man convicted of the great ore heist.
But, after ignoring aspects of her past for years, Priest became curious about what happened, and she realized that she had, “a darn good yarn to tell.”
In 2009, Priest and her sister returned to the Yukon for their first visit since leaving in 1963.
“It was very sad,” Priest writes in an email. “My hometown didn’t exist anymore. We broke into the Elsa schoolhouse and scrawled our names on the blackboard, like so many former Elsa students.”
In 2011, Priest visited the remains of Elsa again, and the distant Moon silver claims.
In 2012, she started writing the book, facing “the ultimate deadline”, as her husband said at the book launch, because of her disease.
Priest wrote for 14 months, while she was still able to do so.
A Rock Fell on the Moon is a haunting memoir, which proves sometimes life writes the most heartbreaking stories.
A Rock Fell on the Moon is available at local bookstores.