To present my parents’ life story and my growing-up story I hit upon two ways. First, I could combine the stories of two generations — but only if I could find a beginning, middle and end for a unified structure.
- It couldn’t just be that they were born and died and did something fantastic as a climax near the end. I had important things to say about their effect on me as I grew up. I saw flaws in their relationship.
- The central theme I wanted get at was one of ego. Altruism is without a doubt the greatest virtue. But babies need to suck in, see and exercise a healthy dose of ego joy in order to become competent, confident, caring adults.
- My solution was to frame the book as a psychological detective story/family biography. I began by saying I was on a search for my parents’ lost egos. One question I wanted to figure out was why my mother denied him one of her chocolates the week before he died, even though he begged for it.
- That way I could keep the reader in suspense and also make the book an honest critique. That’s my way as a nonfiction writer.
- The title was easy because our family name was Kell. The Book of Kells is the famous ninth century manuscript that illuminates the gospels. I point out my parents and ancestors aimed to do that too, by the way they lived.Second, I could write the book just as an inspiring love story — the quintessential Canadian romance. This approach might appeal more to a different group of readers.
- Like the first book, it contains excerpts from their love letters but the theme is a tribute to my mother’s courage and my parents’ idealism.
- I tossed out the subtitle and included a dozen authentic pictures of my mother’s adventures instead.
- The title comes from a hazardous five-day trek on a cariole toboggan made by my mother, my father and an aboriginal guide. The temperature dipped to 30-below-zero. If there was no one to take them in, they slept outside. She had to get to the hospital for her baby to be born.
- Digital technology made it easy for me to do this. Both books are published under our V&V logo but printed-on-demand and distributed by CreateSpace (originally called BookSurge.)
- Revisions are quick and simple to make. Then I order just the number of books I think I can sell at bookstores, fairs, shopping malls, reunions, book clubs, seniors’ residences, libraries, book clubs, etc.
- Most customers have a definite preference for which printed edition they want for themselves or as a gift.
- I take my i-pad with me and can download an e-version of either book if that is what they prefer.