We have three literary celebrations this week and they all have children in mind. The first is International Children’s Book Day. As we are all acutely aware, reading is the foundation of all learning and is, therefore, the most important skill for every child.
4/2 – International Children’s Book Day (Founded 1967)
4/2 – Hans Christian Anderson’s Birthday (1805-1875)
Andersen was a prolific writer and wrote two hundred and ten fairy tales in all, which were published over the course of his life. The tales were translated across Europe, then made their way around the world, making him the best-known Scandinavian writer of his age.
His most famous stories are: The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Little Mermaid, The Nightingale” “The Steadfast Tin Soldier, The Red Shoes, The Princess and the Pea, The Snow Queen, The Ugly Duckling, The Little Match Girl, and Thumbelina. I think most children know these stories, I certainly remember having them read to me initially and then reading them for myself later on. There is an inherent magic to these stories that makes them timeless.
4/4 – National School Librarian Day.
To honor all school librarians, who serve young students in the local school libraries. These heroes of the school system ensure children find the joy of a story and encourage them to read.
My friend and I went on a super day road trip yesterday (avoiding any human contact of course!) It was a day of nature, history and some surprises. Our main destination was Hard Luck Canyon, which has a time line to show the human events that occurred as the canyon gradually continued to form. I loved this sign noting the beginning of writing. Something unique to humans and without which we would not have stories.
I will share a little writing history with you, if I may. It is generally agreed that the earliest form of writing appeared almost 5,500 years ago in Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq). Early pictorial signs began to be substituted by a complex system of characters representing the sounds of Sumerian (the language of Sumer in Southern Mesopotamia). It is not clear which civilization invented writing first, but Egyptian writing has some Sumerian influence. The earliest proof of language existed in the Kish Tablet found in Iraq. The first written story was the The Epic of Gilgamesh. It is a mythologized account of an historical figure, Gilgamesh, a ruler of the Sumerian city-state of Uruk, believed to have ruled sometime between 2700-2500 BC.
This has given us a written, rather than verbal history, along with tales of Gods and Goddess’, fables, fairy tales, history and knowledge of the world around us. Just for fun I am also sharing the longest words, currently in circulation.
The current champ!
Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis – refers to a lung disease contracted from the inhalation of very fine silica particles, specifically from a volcano; medically, it is the same as silicosis
Welsh place name.
Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (llan-vire-pooll-guin-gill-go-ger-u-queern-drob-ooll-llandus-ilio-gogo-goch), a Welsh word (place name) that translates roughly as “St Mary’s Church in the Hollow of the White Hazel near a Rapid Whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio near the Red Cave”.
This one is fun and ironic!
Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia – the fear of long words.
And one we all know and practiced until we could say it as children.
The longest word in Shakespeare’s works is Honorificabilitudinitatibus
Some of the delightful surprises on our trip were – Minions, a Tinman, a castle and a lighthouse.
What inspired your latest novel? A few years ago, I worked with a personal growth mentor on a workbook for telling life story as a myth. I gathered the stories I wrote and from them created The Storyteller: Tales of Enchantment which was recently published by Dream Write Publishing. My weary Gypsy traveller is an elder who shares tales of magic and wonder while passing on wisdom in these short, fanciful pieces. I am currently at work on an autobiographical novel.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? Maturity and aging are ripe with gifts. Elder tales are to be respected as much as traditional fairy tales, which focus on the courage to venture out into the world and seek their fortunes. Instead, my Gypsy Storyteller elder tales touch on the archetypes common to all of us as we age. I hope readers will grasp the deeper message of the stories, seeing in them the courage to confront the challenges of growing old. Our culture is youth-oriented and so I want the reader to appreciate that elders are heroes too.
How much of the book is realistic? These tales are symbolic of the lessons I’ve learned in life. In that respect, they are realistic. The themes are my own observations of loss, self-confrontation, masks, transcendence and seeing wonder in the world, all timeless insights learned by growing old.
Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life? Each story is a fanciful description of values and strengths I’ve come to accept in myself, and a way to reflect using active imagination and reflection.
Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog? I have an author page and a story page on Facebook, and a website with a blog at www.kathiesutherland.com. My blogs are few and far between lately as other writing projects have taken up space in my mind.
Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone? Most of my writing is “life writing” in one form or another. My work is Self-centered, soulful and focused on wholeness although some think it is self-centered and ego driven.
Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why? I believe each of us has a story in which we are the protagonist. My Gypsy Storyteller has created these tales to affirm my favorite voices. The Blind Gardener, The Good Wife, Grandmother Spider are all wise characters from my inner world.
Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one? I’ve tried many writing genres, all of them focused on life story. Even as a child, my favourite books were fables, songs, fairy tales and classic stories, such as Heidi and Little Women. As an adult, I’ve embraced journaling for personal growth, become a certified journaling facilitator, written poetry and published it in chapbooks and bound books, gathered personal essays into a memoir collection, submitted articles to magazines, had my short stories published in anthologies; all of these works based on life events and family history. I’m currently working on an autobiographic narrative and two novels. I have recently been assisting elders and others at the end of life to identify the values of a lifetime and leave these insightful stories as a “Letter of the Heart” legacy for family and friends.
Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer? Definitely seat of the pants but the stories are usually based on true events. Having a structure into which the story falls helps me plan.
What is your best marketing tip? This is not a question I feel comfortable with because I quickly lose interest after completing books and hurry off into new projects without marketing the published ones. Its the writing I love. I could use the help of a marketing assistant!
Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance? I like social media as a way to reach out to others but I have to limit my time with it. My favourite self-expression methods are stories and poems in book form. I love using the computer to write and edit.
What do you enjoy most about writing? Writing is “the way to me.” Every time I write, I learn something about my values, beliefs and strengths. This lifelong learning is very important to me.
What age did you start writing stories/poems? My mother brought our faraway relatives to life with family stories. As a child, I took on the role of correspondent and wrote letters to friends and family. I surprised myself when I wrote a good short story in 10th grade and later, found poetry could express my feelings as an adult in my early 30s. I became serious about life story writing in 2000 after attending a seminar focused on the lives of girls and women. Once I realized I had a story to tell, I embraced life writing.
What genre are you currently reading? Memoir and autobiography mostly. I love a good novel and love to encourage other writers in their efforts to create with words and enjoy acting as first reader for them.
Do you read for pleasure or research or both? Both. I love to learn more about my current interests, and this strength serves me well in my research. For example, I am reading books about building on my innate strengths, accepting my dark side, aging with wisdom and dying with dignity.
Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager? Other writers and writing groups. My mother is my biggest fan and has read all my books. I have worked with personal coaches and other “balcony” people, including my psychologist.
Where is your favorite writing space? In my office/sanctuary. One of my favourite activities is taking a writers’ retreat whether with others or alone. Solitary time is essential to my writing.
Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one? Two, one in Sherwood Park and one in Fort Saskatchewan. I like to feel I belong, and writers groups are definitely the place I find community.
If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why? I am in awe of all writing efforts, because as I said earlier, we all have a story of some sort within us and I’m interested in how we express them.
Do you see writing as a career? I believe my life purpose is to grow into myself. Writing is a way to give my life meaning. Success in a career is simply loving what I do.
Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food? When I write, my tea gets cold, and the ice in my drink melts. I’m not a snacker at any time!
What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline? I am working on giving myself credit for completing projects and enjoying the fruits of my labour because I don’t do that often enough. I’m usually off on the next bit of writing. My greatest reward is hearing someone say, “I can relate to this character and your writing.”
Other books by Kathie:
Kathie Sutherland has recently published a collection of Elder Tales “The Storyteller: True Tales of Enchantment.” She is also the author of Things We Keep: A Memoir, and poetry books balancing Act; Shadow Girls in the Spotlight;Wind in the Trees; and Seeking Asylum. She has several large writing projects in the works including three novels.
Kathie is a well-travelled and observant student of life with 30 years of writing experience. In the past, she has facilitated journal writing workshops and is active in her local writing group. Currently, she encourages others as a story listener and writing companion to elders and those at the end of life as they articulate their values stories to share as a legacy in “Letters of the Heart.”