Author Spotlight: Kathleen W. Forbes
By Kathleen W. Forbes
I was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and as far back as I can remember I have written poetry and stories. I took my first stab at writing poetry for a competition when I was eight years old. My stories came from what my mother called a great imagination. I don’t know if that was a compliment or not, but anyway, my mind was always busy. I won a three-year scholarship to Lurgan Technical Institute when I was eleven after having written an essay about a crippled little girl.
In Belfast, we were peppered with bombs during the Second World War, and one night the street behind us was wiped out. My parents then decided to evacuate to the country. We were close enough (twenty miles from Belfast) that we could watch the searchlights and bomb flashes in the sky, but far enough away to be safe from the devastation. I was fourteen when the war ended.
My father came home from Cairo in 1945, and in 1948 he decided that we should move to Canada. We had heard that there was a calling for ministers in Canada, so we found ourselves on a ship bound for a land across the sea.
I married a young farmer when I was nineteen and we had three children, all girls. I wrote their lullabies as well as poetry which they recited in church socials. I’ve always been available for elocution, and would recite or sing at the drop of a hat.
We moved to Winnipeg to find a better way to make a living, and later on to London, Ontario. I worked as manager for Health Studios and performed a daily exercise segment on C.F.C.N. Television for the At Home show. I then went to work for the Arthur Murray Dance Studio, teaching English, American, and Latin ballroom dancing. I also had a class in Irish dancing at the Y.M.Y.W.C.A.
In 1966, a drunk driver hit my car, and I sailed through the windshield to a completely different life. I have lived with pain ever since. My life changed completely, but at least I had time to write. I went to work as a legal secretary, and later joined a community theatre group. I loved being on stage, and I worked with production and fundraising to help put the plays on. I have also worked in many films as an extra, and in one movie in a cameo role.
Now that I’m eighty-five, I’ve got the writing bug again and have turned out seven books for Word Alive Press.
Every story comes with a tiny glimpse into my life. For instance, the Penelope Henry story about the country jamboree is probably a reminder of my family reunions on the farm in Saskatchewan. The events written about are all fiction, but prompted by these reunions, Camping on Blueberry Mountain is peppered with real-life incidents, such as the time when I went prospecting along the riverbank for gold dust; I actually did find beautiful gem stones. To weave a colourful tapestry, every incident comes either from moments in my life or from my imagination.
Scuba Hijinks was created when I interviewed my daughter about her scuba-diving days. I used her name, Holly, for the heroine. All these stories are fiction, but somewhere along the way, a little bit of truth seeps in. I also had to write about the Garibaldi Mountain, as I had lived in that area for twenty years. The scenery is beyond incredible. Every turn of the head is a new picture, an artist’s paradise. I call it God’s Country.
My Irish heritage helps to weave the magic of fairies and elves, and it causes me to look for the rainbow in most of my children’s poems and books. I may be eighty-five, but there is still a child lurking in my subconscious musings.
I was born to be a poet. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t recite. My father was a poet and a pastor, and he loved to write silly poems. Perhaps it’s in my genes. A lot of my poems are spiritual, or about real events and people I know, even places I’ve been. I’ve been asked where I get ideas for my stories and poetry. I don’t know! They just come to me when I least expect them.
I have had poetry and articles published in local newspapers, in an anthology entitled The 7000 Best Poems in the World, and in the Mount Royal College Journal. The best advice I can give to new writers is this: “You’re never too old to begin.”
About this Contributor:
Kathleen W. Forbes was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, so her writing sometimes reflects her Irish heritage. She immigrated to Canada when she was eighteen years old and has lived in five provinces from Ontario to the west coast of British Columbia. During her lifetime she’s traveled through the other provinces from the east coast to the west. Her published books include the Holly Brannigan Mysteries, Scuba Hijinks, Donnymead Castle, and a book of poetry, All Roads Lead to Home