Local author Kathy Fowkes will be launching her third children’s book at the Bouchie Lake Country Store this weekend on Saturday, March 9.
Fowkes, a former teacher, has been writing children’s book since she retired four years ago.
“I’ve always wanted to write kid’s books,” says Fowkes, but life always seemed to get in the way. She was busy, between four kids and a full-time job as teacher (and then principal).
But once she retired, and her kids had their own families, she finally found the time to get back into writing. She says her stories are based on special memories with her young grandkids, or with her own grandparents.
Her newest book, Mosquitoes, Moose Tracks and Hot Dogs, follows her on a walk through the woods with her son and two grandchildren.
She says the kids expected the walk to be boring, but instead they learned about bugs and windfalls, pretended to be loggers, found moose tracks, sang songs and even climbed rocks. And when they returned home, the group had hot dogs.
“They couldn’t believe it was over,” says Fowkes.
Her first book, A Muddy Adventure, was inspired by an afternoon spent with her then three-year-old grandson, while her second book, The Best Day Ever, was inspired by her own childhood.
She says it takes her about two years to go from an initial idea to a completed book, fresh off the press at Big Country Printers.
First, she needs to get the words down on paper. Then, she walks away for a while, so she can return to the manuscript with fresh eyes to edit. When the manuscript is close to completion, she sends it to Tiffany Jorgensen, an artist, illustrator and close family friend from Williams Lake.
Jorgensen then works her own magic on the manuscript, using it as inspiration for her illustrations. If she feels like an extra picture, for example, is needed to tell the story, they discuss the addition together and figure out the next steps. When the art and story is complete, Fowkes brings the manuscript and illustrations to Big Country Printers, where they are transferred to page and printed.
Fowkes decided to go the self-publishing route because she worried that editors would try to change her story, tell her to take things out or add them in.
“But it’s not mine then,” says Fowkes. “It’s not the story that happened.”
She says she loves books and reading and hopes kids always have access to good books.
“I think it’s so important to be able to read and to enjoy stories and have that fun.”
Fowkes has also been visiting schools to read her books to the students.
“For me that’s a real kind of switch, because I worked in the education system for so long. So you go in there and you’re not going in as a teacher or an administrator: you’re going in as a writer. And it’s just a whole different way to present something to kids … It’s just fun. It’s just lots of fun, and I love it.”
When she initially started writing, it was so she could give her stories to her own grandchildren, who range in age from seven years old to less than a month old. But she says it was an unrealistic goal to have just a few copies of the book printed. So instead, she figured, why not self-publish?
She joined the crafter’s guild at Cariboo Keepsakes, and now her books are available for purchase at both Big Country Printers and Cariboo Keepsakes.
She printed 200 copies of her most recent story (with the option to print more as necessary).
Fowkes will be launching her book at the Bouchie Lake Country Store March 9 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be hot chocolate, hot dogs and coffee at the event — and door prizes too. There will also be crafts for kids to make.